Christmas Vacation, Day Nine, Part II, and Day Ten - Departure

1) Mother and I did make our afternoon appointment with each other to research the charities on her charities list. Hard at it for almost two hours - there were 77 organizations on the list! - and there's still work to do. But priorities have been established, legitimate charities validated, and scams exposed, all with the goal of reducing the tsunami of junk mail Mother gets.

2) In the evening Younger Nephew Who Must Not Be Tagged and his wife stopped by, and I took them and Mother to dinner at my beloved Seafood Palace on Enterprise Boulevard. Best gumbo in Lake Charles! Taylor and I ended up discussing Feud, among other things.

2a) They no longer serve pistolettes - their vendor went out of business - so we started out with crawfish balls or boudin balls. That led me to tell the joke about Marilyn Monroe and the matzoh balls, which fell flat.

3) Early, quiet, absolutely brainless evening - all that charity research gave me a headache - but an Advil unlocked the Gates of Sleep somewhere for me between 11:30 and midnight.

4) Awake from 4:15 AM, up at 6:00 AM, washing clothes and my carcass - the latter after a dispiriting look at the bathroom scale. Then packing, breakfast, and those end-of-stay chores like washing the sheets and remaking the bed, etc.

4a) Because the weather forecast up No'th was bitterly cold, and because this was one of the very very rare trips home I didn't wear a winter coat or proper gloves, Mother and I searched the house for something to add to my travel wardrobe. Along the way we found a lot of birthday cards for Daddy from many birthdays and a whole passel of audiocassettes from his Unity days (Mother: "The people from Unity might like those." Me: "Mamma, no one uses audiocassettes any more." I tossed 'em out.) Finally, in the cedar chest in my room, out came a large pair of brown wool felt mittens and the gray wool cap and scarf Grampa Al had been given when he was in the Navy or something during WWI. (He was stationed on the Great Lakes and never saw active duty. Apparently he joked that he "fought the battle of the Great Lakes.") So I wasn't gonna freeze.

5) Mother and I had a bit of a discussion about what to do for lunch: make sandwiches in, or go to the Great H****** nearby. My argument to support local business won out, and the bonus was that almost as soon as we walked in, Miss B***** ran out from behind the counter to give Mother a big hug, and then me. Miss B***** had been one of the aides when Daddy had been at the Guardian House, but she'd left to do something new - like baking! Wonderful to catch up with her. I said to Mother, "Isn't this nice! We wouldn't have seen Miss B***** if we'd made sandwiches at home."

6) Then, sitting at our table waiting for our order, Mother suddenly said "There's your friend." I was mystified, since I don't really have friends in Lake Charles still. Looking toward the door, I certainly didn't recognize the elderly woman who had just come in. I said, "I have no idea who you're talking about, Mother." Turns out Mother didn't mean my friend, but the mother of a girl who was also in the Methodist Youth Fellowship when I was 40 years ago. This woman then made a bee line for our table, exclaiming "And who is this handsome man?" I looked her dead in the eye and asked "Who are you? I don't recognize you." And it really was that girl's mother, and she had that girl's college-age daughter with her. And because on flight days I tend to be very focused on the flight and not being late to the airport, I was very polite but also very absent.

7) At the table next to ours sat a young mother with a fractious toddler who had a book. Mother asked me the title (I could see it from my place) and she was a bit disappointed when she found out it wasn't Pat the Bunny. Before we left she stopped for five minutes to tell this nice young mother all about Pat the Bunny. Mother loves little children; I know that meant a lot to her.

8) Waiting upstairs at the airport outside security, I noticed that the food concession had closed (it had at one time been a Subway, I know). Mother and I sat together for awhile, and she shared with me some diary writings from the last year and some other things - a really nice pre-flight conversation.

8a) Exactly one year ago that day I was also waiting for a flight to Boston, only then I'd spent the morning arranging for a new hospice company to look after my father. I didn't think I'd be returning two days later . . .

9) The most eventful parts of my travel were a) a nun (!) cutting ahead of me in the security line while I hugged Mother goodbye, b) discovering I had enough time to get to Pappadeaux at DFW for a bite of early dinner, and c) both Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Funny Girl on the in-flight entertainment.

10) Taxi instantly available at Logan, and I was home sorting ~21 Christmas cards by 10:00 PM. Thus ends Christmas vacation 2017!