So today I got out the suitcases for another trip. The cats, Fat Boy and Boots, hate to see that happen. Usually Fat Boy crawls inside, curls up and refuses to get out. I guess he thinks he can go with us if he hides. Boots just pouts and give us the old stink eye.
It reminded me of another trip many years ago. We'd planned a cross country, from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania, trip for months but things worked out so that we could go three days earlier than planned. No problem. We had three kids, aged 5, 7 and 10 who could help us pack in a hurry so we could be on our way.
I sent Lemar, the oldest, to fetch a red T-shirt from the dryer. I could wear it with three different outfits while we were there. And Ginny, the youngest, to find red socks for her cute little overall jumper. And so went the next hour. Amy was to go get underwear for the whole family. Seven pair of each.
I packed the small suitcase that we'd use at the hotel along the way and kept working on the bigger cases that would stay in the trunk until we arrived. We loaded it all up and away we went.
Like always the kids were fairly good the first couple of hours and since it was getting on up toward evening, we figured they'd sleep through the night. So rather than being out money for a hotel, Mr. B and I decided we'd take turns and drive straight through. I knew I should sleep because at midnight it would be my turn but at ten o'clock the kids got a second wind and decided to sing.
Mr. B pulled off at a roadside rest a few minutes until the Cinderella hour and everyone took off to the rest rooms. When we got back into the car, Mr. B propped a pillow on the window and was snoring before I drove out of the parking lot. Lemar claimed his half of the back seat and Amy got the other half. Ginny was so tiny that she fit on the floorboard. Two miles down the highway I was the only one awake.
Sleep, like yawning, is contagious. My eyes got so heavy that I wished I'd left that roll of tape in the glove compartment. I could drive as long as they were open, right? At two o'clock I figured out that I could sleep with my right eye closed and the left one open to drive. It worked real well until I tried to wake up the right eye. It was downright cantankerous but I finally convinced it to open up and let the left one sleep a few minutes. That worked about three times and then the shifting got me into a world of trouble. There is a time in between being wide awake like the left eye and being asleep like the right one, when neither one is doing a very good job of driving.
And that's when my tires went off the road and into the gravel. I managed to get straightened up and gave both my eyes a hard lecture. Neither one of them got to sleep anymore! No, sir!
When my heart settled down and the adrenaline rush bottomed out, I looked up and saw a beautiful sign flashing ahead. It said VACANCY!!! That was an omen telling me not to trust my eyes. I put on the blinker and pulled into a motel that most normally I wouldn't even give a second look. Mr. B awoke when the car stopped and asked me if it was his turn to drive.
"Nope, we're staying right here and when we wake up we'll make the rest of the trip," I told him.
No one argued with me. The kids were so glad to have real beds that they went right back to sleep and I fell into the bed and told both my eyes they could close. And they did!
But like Paul Harvey says, "And here's the rest of the story." We got to PA and I started to unpack. We had socks but no matching pairs in the lot. Ginny had twelve pairs of under britches. Amy had two and I had fourteen. There were three pair of Hanes for men in Mr. B's size and eleven in Lemar's. I had a red shirt but it was Ginny's size, not mine. When I asked Lemar about it, he said, "But Mama, I held it up and it looked like it would fit you."
I hugged him five times and kissed his forehead even though he hated it. If he saw his mother as someone that small, be danged if I'd fuss at him.
I did the packing from then on and it was the last time we tried that "drive straight though" idea. But I still remember how funny unpacking those suitcases were that morning. And how much I loved my son for thinking I was model thin and not the chubby housewife that I was!