Or How We Manage To Send Mother South
Since there are no direct flights from Portland to Orlando, Cousin Beth got a flight for mother that left from Boston. Our task was simply to deliver her to the airport. We agreed to do this before she bought the tickets so there was no big surprise. Confirmation in hand, we knew what had to be done. Our only concern was the weather and the day dawned with no snow storms although snow the previous night had left the roads wet and our driveway a treacherous course of snow covered ice. Mother had instructions to be ready at 9am when I would collect her and take her back to our house. We calculated that with a 4:00pm flight we would get her there in plenty of time if we left here at 11am. And we actually did pull out of the driveway at 11am. This was a near miss. Mother sits in the back seat. I used to put her in the front but Brett made a special request to put her in the back because her humming and toe tapping and hand waving distracted him too much. I agreed (why do you think I liked to sit in the back?). Apparently the seat belt in the back seat was designed for smarter people than my mother. 15 minutes were spent while she first said she’d hook it up while we were driving (no, it needs to be hooked before we start) and then variations of – “you need to hook it into the one that’s right next to you, the one you are sitting on, the one you are still sitting on, okay I’ll come around and help(it is now pouring rain and I’ve already taken my jacket off), it is still the one that you are sitting on, holding it with your hand in front of the slot is not going to help, we need to unhook it and try again because you’ve locked the belt…” Lord help me but we haven’t even left the driveway and I’m ready to toss her out of the car. Brett told her that we’re going to get a car seat for her.
Mother marvels at GPS. She wanted to get one for her own car but we told her we didn’t think that was a good idea. She listens to her TV with the sound as loud as it will go and has trouble hearing a normal conversation. She was so taken with the GPS that she found it amusing to repeat what it was saying (or try to repeat it). We’ve made it 1.5 miles when she is heard to blurt “Sanitary Street! I don’t see the sign!” to which I must respond “Mother, it’s Cemetery Street and the sign is on the sign post to the left”. She: “Oh, I never look for signs on the left”. Another 2 miles and we get instructions to turn onto I295. She: “What did he say?”. Yup, it’s going to be a long, long drive.
Mother hadn’t seen the EZPass thingy in use so there were lots of things to talk about. She: “You got one of those toll pay things?” Me: “ Yes, it makes things really easy”. She: “Where do you pay the toll?” Me: “You just drive through and it takes the money from your account. See, we are going into the EZPass lane now”. She: “ The light just turned blue and it says thank you.” Me: “ It turned green so we can keep going.” She: “But where do you pay the toll?”
I left my coffee cup on the kitchen counter. Since I haven’t had any coffee yet today this is not a good thing. But I know that there is a Starbucks at the Kennebunk rest stop and we can also get some lunch. Coffee is procured, everybody has been fed, nobody got too wet because the handicap spots are right by the door and then I realize we should have left her buckled in the car because the seat belt is not going to cooperate again (I’ll give her the benefit of doubt and blame the seat belt). This time, Brett had to get out and get things hooked up. Our 1:40pm arrival estimate is now 2:24pm.
I love GPS and would still be hopelessly lost somewhere without it. Things are going merrily along now and we’re nearing the next GPS turn when I see a sign that says “best route to Logan airport” but it isn’t the route that we’ve got calculated so I tell Brett to just keep going. This would have been fine but for one small problem – the Chelsea Street Bridge is closed and there’s no way we are going to be turning left onto it. Not to panic. We’ll just keep driving and it will recalculate a route. Unfortunately, for as long as it can, the GPS will tell you to turn on the next, or next or next street so that you can get back to where he wants you to go. Travel far enough away and it will choose a new route. So GPS is doing the “in 200 ft turn right on gobbledygook street” and I’m telling Brett “just keep going straight”. Mother is in the back contributing “Chelsea Street Bridge! I don’t see a sign” Me: “The bridge is closed, we’ve got to keep going straight” She: “Where’s the turn?” All this while GPS continues to tell us to turn. It’s starting to sound like an airport control tower in here. “Flight Dot (of course I have a Matrix named Dot because I was a computer programmer for years) turn right at next street, where’s the sign for Chelsea Street, in 200 ft turn right, no just keep driving straight”. Finally! I see a sign that says Chelsea Street Bridge Detour and then Logan Airport and the GPS also agrees that this is where we should turn. Mother pats Brett on the back and tells him he’s so smart to figure out where we were supposed to go. He: “Sandy is the one navigating, I just did what she told me” She: “Well you were smart.”
The only choice on GPS was Terminal C arrivals which of course is not the path to Central Parking. It is now 2:30pm and we need to loop around the airport one more time while I carefully watch the signs and get him into the correct lane. Brett doesn’t even like the radio playing while he’s in “navigating” mode. Me: “ okay I see the sign and you should get into the left lane now” Me: “ good, now there’s another sign and we stay left” She: “Do you think the wheelchair will be waiting for me when I get to Orlando?” Me: “ Let’s talk about that once we get parked (said aloud), SHUT UP!! (said in my head I hope)”. TaDa! Central Parking! And the sign says FULL. WTF?
But there’s also a sign that says handicap parking on level 4 so we take our chances, find our way up and get directed to an empty spot. Although it is close to the door, there’s still a moving sidewalk (which must be a mile long) and we need to get her checked in, through security and onto the plane. I stop looking at the time at this point. A snail walks faster than my mother does and there are no wheelchairs in the parking garage. We saunter along and finally make it to the ticket counter (after one stop at restroom for Brett who has had to pee since we got lost looking for Chelsea Street Bridge).
Mother will not go to the gate by herself. It is possible to get a gate pass to accompany her but only one of us can go. Brett happily volunteers to wait in the ticketing area (where I will later find him with the Boston Globe and a bag of M&M’s). We wait for her wheelchair and head for the security line. There’s a perk for getting wheelchair assist. You get to go to the head of the security line and so does your companion. She had to get out of the chair to do the backscatter x-ray thingy and that was a near tip over but we got through it and our young wheelchair pusher delivered her to the proper gate. If she’d had to walk the whole way, we’d still be walking there. Seated by the entry door (me feeling like we’re actually going to get her onto the airplane) she announces that she has to pee and I note that the restroom is at the other end of the terminal. Our assistant is still at the gate and he gallantly gets her to the restroom and back just in time for the flight to board. And I heard her exclaim as she rolled out of sight “my son-in-law did a great job getting me here tonight”.
No further incidents were reported, we made it back to the car ($9 to park for less than an hour?!?) and got home about 7:30. And we get to do it all over again on the 21st.