Posts Tagged ‘relatives’

Our kids are lucky enough to have two great-grandparents.  They have a great grandmother who lives in Houston and a great grandfather who lives in Melbourne, Florida.  I care very much about getting the boys to each of them as often as we can swing it financially and logistically, which sadly doesn’t make it happen often enough.   Both Grandma Schieffer (86, I think) and Papapa (90) are amazingly healthy and “with it”. They both live relatively independent lives in their own apartments within a larger care-taking complex.  I wish they didn’t live as far from each other as they do because I know they would really hit it off.

My grandfather is a lifetime military man.  He was a four-star Major General in WWII and continued to serve the Army at the Pentagon for many years after he returned.   He will, one sad day, join his wife in Arlington National Cemetery where he will receive full honors.  He was badass then and he’s badass now.  Just a very cool, no bullsh*t kind of guy.  He’s pretty near to being deaf and nearer to being blind although he doesn’t let either fate stop him from accomplishing just about anything.  In fact, he has a driver who brings him to a local community center to teach the blind how to more easily achieve their day to day tasks. (Toothpaste on your finger before the brush, spooning your food towards the center of your plate instead of to the outside, etc).  He teaches an exercise class in his complex and there’s a live bird in his act.  No kidding.   He listens to satellite radio, has a machine that scans and reads his newspapers and he is a religious baseball fan.   Ross and I were taking him to dinner one night a few years back and, in search of somewhere near to his home, we suggested The Outback.   His reply?  “Hmmm.  Isn’t that the place with ‘no rules’?  I don’t much like places with no rules.”   Like I said, a military man through and through.

So, anyway, we were all set to make the 90-minute drive to Melbourne from Kissimmee with the kids the day after our arrival to Florida.  We had planned it (with my wonderful Aunt Betsy who lives nearby) to the minute (military folks like schedules, you know).   We would depart by 9:30, arrive by 11, go to a nearby diner by 11:30 and beat feet, so as not to make the day too long for him,  by 1.   But kids, of course, can really screw up the best laid plans.

John developed a little cough a few days before we left.  By the time we got to Florida, he had a low grade fever (sorry JetBlue Flight 431 passengers!).   I texted my Aunt Betsy about it and said that unless  he took a turn for the worse we were still up for the trip but maybe bringing a sick kid around a 90-year old wasn’t a good idea?  She got in touch with him and got back me.  Silly me.  Did I actually think that a man who led troops and took incoming fire from thousands of enemy soldiers for somewhere between four and six years would be afraid of a two year old with a cough?  Heck no.  He told her he’d had his flu shot.  Bring it on.

Well, then John spent the entire first night in our bed not sleeping.  Just a hot sticky mass of kicking feet, whines, cries and coughs.   Fever was higher.   Definitely not a happy camper.  But, I really, really, really didn’t want to cancel.   So, on we pressed.  Got everyone (exhausted) into the car on time.  Stopped at a local Walgreens for some medicine.  Miraculously got miserable little John to take the medicine delivered by Mom from front seat to back.   Drove about 1/4 mile more and…yup…throw up.

On John.  On car seat.  On “Baa” (his precious bunny that goes everywhere with him when he’s not feeling right).

Change of clothes?  Um, no.

Handi-Wipes?  Check.   Much-too-hot John-sized sweatshirt in my bag?  Check.

Poor kid.  It was like we were torturing him.  He should have been home in bed or curled up on my lap or at the very least watching Yo Gabba Gabba on the couch.   But, it was Papapa.  Who had been waiting for and looking forward to this visit for months.  And so were we.  So, we clean up as best we can.  A stinky John is better than no John at all, right?


(Hoping it isn’t true that when you lose one sense the others get stronger.  No sight, no sound…just SMELL!  Lucky you, Papapa.)

Amazingly, John rallied enough at our arrival to Southland Suites to come into my grandfathers room with an audible (even to Papapa) “Hi Papapa!” before crawling up onto my lap.  And, Will, as usual, did us proud with his high-pitched chatter and interest in all things new and touchable.  My brilliant Aunt Betsy made them “treasure boxes” — shells, sheriff badges, silver dollars in wooden cigar boxes — which held their attention for a while before we went out to lunch.

Lunch was a bit of a mess.  My kids ordered toast, which only Will ate.   John lost it (his mood, not his lunch) about halfway through so Ross and I took turns with him outside while everyone finished up.   We all put our best faces on but it was certainly not the trip we all hoped for.

I know that the most important part is that Papapa got to touch my kids, hear them talk, show them around a little to the people in his complex, and know that we love him and miss him and think of him often.  We wouldn’t miss a chance to be with him.  He’s an amazing man and I love him so much.

So it did my heart good when I heard that he recapped the trip to my Mom and told her that he was proud when Will shook his friend Henrietta Wakefield’s (Tim’s grandmother) hand when he met her.  And that John rushed in and said “Hi Papapa!” despite how how badly the little guy was feeling.  And he was glad we came.

Next time, Papapa.  Next time, it will be better.  Or…maybe not.

But, at least we’ll be together.

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