Driving long distances has become an increasing challenge as I have attained senior status.
Even with amenities, like free beverages from fast-food establishments and discounts at restaurants, now that my wife and I are in our mid-sixties, going on a trip to see our children/grandchildren (who all live in different states) has become quite an undertaking. We pack personal belongings, gifts and food. These are “stay-awake” snacks to ward off my pesky sleepiness, along with my ever vigilant wife’s elbow nudges and nagging cautions that arriving dead at our destination rather defeats the purpose of our trip.
Our most recent getaway was to assist our son and very pregnant wife create a baby nursery out of their condo’s spare bedroom. (Add to the mix a trunk full of tools and painting materials.) We were two hours behind schedule when my spouse decided we needed to stop at the Post Office to mail packages to our other grandchildren. No problem. It was on the way to the interstate and would only take an extra ten minutes. Nevertheless, I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel at the traffic light stop on the way. The teenagers in the next lane with their blaring bass gave me a ’thumbs-up’, obviously relishing the that an old guy like me would keep beat with their music. My wife saw my actions as a sign of nervous energy. After 48 years of marriage, she reads me pretty well.
The only handicapped parking space available was covered with broken glass. Great, another delay. I maneuvered into the first open space out in the ‘back forty’ of the parking lot. Which happened to be next to a family van that must have had a dozen kids, parents, and babies scrambling to exit their vehicle; thereby, keeping me hostage in mine.
I unclenched my jaw long enough to be grateful that we weren’t them and tried not to wince when the most rambunctious child rammed into our side-view mirror. A long five minutes later and I was on my way into the building with our packages, leaving my wife to program the GPS. I rushed ahead, ever conscious of the expiring minutes like a victim with a ticking time bomb strapped to his body.
All would have proceeded smoothly, had I not turned my head to watch a couple of attractive young women walking to my left. Forgetting for a split second that boxes obscured my frontal vision, I crashed into a bench. I was in such a hurry, my shins connected with said bench and sailed my entire body OVER it, sprawling me on the cement floor like a diver’s belly-smacker. Stunned and somewhat befuddled, I accepted assistance from a couple passersby.
“Sir, are you okay?” . . . “Can I get you a bottle of water, or something?” . . . “I’d sue if I were you—what a stupid place to put a bench!”
(I have walked around the same bench in the same place countless times and never felt it out of place, but I wasn’t quite up to admitting it.)
I painfully arose, thankful I hadn’t broken anything (unless you count one or two of the parcels) and, assured the spectators I was fine.
“Probably more embarrassed than hurt, right?”
I nodded. Then I took a couple of steps and begged to differ.
The gracious postal clerk taped up the mangled boxes and I limped back to the car, groaning as I sat down.
“Arthritis acting up again, lovey?”
“Uh, actually, I kind of fell . . .”
My practical “better half” retrieved the single ice pack from the cooler and bandaged my bloody shin with her handkerchief, the only wrap we could find, while I explained the mishap.
Upon our arrival, we decided to let the younger couple sleep in their king-size bed while we took the floor air mattresses, which was fine—until I tried to turn over or get up in the night for a senior’s bathroom moment.
I persevered through the next three days, managing to paint, put together the baby crib and dresser (without reading the instructions—a guy thing) as the women put together the “pack ‘n play”, (reading and following the step-by-step directions—a girl thing). THEY didn’t have any leftover parts.
As a thank-you present, the kids gave me a pair of old horse blinders they had found--to hang on our rearview mirror as a reminder that the prettiest girl around is my wife.
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