Rescuing the ‘Rents (A True Story)

When my elderly in-laws put out the call for assistance to get them from their winter home in Ft. Myers, Florida to their summer home in Michigan, we didn’t hesitate to run to their aid.  My father-in-law was eighty-seven and my mother-in-law was almost eighty-four.  They’d been independent until recently when some new health issues had made it unsafe for them to make this long drive themselves.  It would not be a problem for us to help out.

On Friday morning of Memorial Day weekend, we boarded a plane in Cleveland, Ohio for the southern regions of Florida.  Since my husband, Kevin, and I are still ridiculously conjoined, we should have realized things may not go quite as planned when we discovered our seats were at opposite ends of the plane, just shortly before boarding.  (Disclaimer to my male readers:  please continue reading even though I have to talk of some female issues.  You’ll understand the necessity of this and I will try not to offend anyone’s senses.)  Next problem that I encountered, soon after boarding the plane, was that the Goddess of Menopause decided to play another practical joke on me and bless me with an excessively heavy flow that would only last the duration of this trip.  Since Kevin and I had already agreed to switch driving positions on the way home every two hours, I was sure this issue would be dealt with accordingly.

Upon our arrival in the south, we helped my in-laws stow the porch furniture and button up the winter home.  We headed to bed early, where the still ridiculously conjoined Youngs discovered that our sleeping arrangements were two twin beds pushed together; one about four inches lower than the other.  This was not conducive to the snuggling we are used to, but we persevered.

We arose on Saturday morning at o’dark thirty.  With the plan being to leave by six a.m., showers were forgone.  (Once again, I must ask you to bear with me for some personal information that must be disclosed for the sake of the story.  I’ll try not to offend.)  Since I was thrown off of my usual morning routine, a bowel movement was not possible for me.  I knew what was going to happen to me because of this.  I was going to blow up with gas; gas that would have nowhere to go.

We finished closing up the house and loaded their van with everything that they, and their annoying little dog, would need once they reached Michigan.  We headed out, right on schedule.  My mother-in-law is a smoker and we quickly learned that we had to crack our windows when she lit up, as she had no intentions of being a polite smoker.  I’d been smoke free for seven months; Kevin for three.  The van absolutely reeked.  We politely kept our mouths shut.  We were not going to change any behaviors in an eighty-four year old woman.  It wasn’t worth the hassle.

Their van was the next obstacle I encountered.  For the record, I drive a Mini Cooper; small, close to the road and handles like a go-cart.  When I got behind the wheel of the van for the first time, I was a little taken aback.  This van has two steps to get up into it, extra length on the back and one of those roofs that make it tall enough in which to stand.  I felt like I was driving a semi-truck.  The steering was loose and the wind kicked me all over the place.  I couldn’t speed like I’m used to doing.  I could barely maintain the speed limit.  I was sweating profusely at times.  Kevin seemed like he was miles away from me in the seat next to mine.  We often reached over the abyss just to hold hands, but even this small gesture put quite a strain on our tendons.  This was one big, freaking van.

So, to recap:

No shower, so I felt grimy.  Abdominal distention was beginning due to the excessive gas build-up.  Stopping in disgusting, nasty roadside rests every two hours to change drivers.  This was where I got to experience the joys of caring for feminine hygiene necessities in much less than sanitary conditions.  I’m driving a vehicle that made me very uncomfortable.  The Grand Canyon is separating Kevin and I.

And my mother-in-law lit up.

Our goal for the day was to get to Beckley, West Virginia by evening.  This was the only place Kevin could get reservations for us on Memorial Day weekend that met the dual needs of a non-smoking room for Kevin and myself, along with a smoking room that allowed pets and was handicapped accessible for the in-laws.  We had a long haul ahead of us.

And my mother-in-law lit up.

Somewhere in South Carolina in a roadside rest men’s room, Kevin lost his glasses.  We didn’t discover this until about an hour after the deed and were unsure as to exactly which stop we had been in, so we just kept driving.  He had his prescription sunglasses, so he could still drive; at least until dark.  Our driving rotation would necessitate me taking over at dark, no matter whose turn it was or how tired either one of us were.

Around five o’clock, while I was taking my turn at the wheel, I heard the sound of a can being opened in the backseat.  It was cocktail hour for the geriatrics.  Something as inconvenient as a long road trip wasn’t going to stop them from imbibing.  A bottle was opened, ice taken from a cooler and the mix was added.  God love them.

And my mother-in-law lit up.

Our next obstacle proved to be the electric seat on the driver’s side.  Kevin is significantly taller than I am, so we needed to make many adjustments each time we switched drivers.  This control decided to become temperamental, and then completely quit working by the end of the evening.  Of course, it quit in Kevin’s position.  Not good for a short woman.

So, dark began to descend upon us.  We stopped to change drivers one last time.  We have now been on the road for almost fifteen hours.

Let’s recap!

No shower, so I felt grimy.  Abdominal distention was reaching astronomical proportions due to the excessive gas build-up.  I looked like I was six months pregnant and was suffering some severe pains.  Stopping in disgusting, nasty roadside rests every two hours to change drivers.  This was where I got to experience the joys of caring for feminine hygiene necessities in much less than sanitary conditions.  I’m driving a vehicle that made me very uncomfortable.  The Grand Canyon is separating Kevin and I.  Kevin lost his glasses and I was driving the last leg of the journey, out of turn.  The in-laws had cocktail hour.  The seat control broke and I was stretching both arms and legs as far as I could to reach the steering wheel and pedals while sitting on the very edge of the seat.

And my mother-in-law lit up.

I’m now driving on the West Virginia turnpike in the dark.  Up the mountain, down the mountain, around the curve.  The van strained uphill and flew like greased lightning when going downhill.  I had forty minutes until we hit the hotel.  What could happen now?  Hadn’t we dealt with enough already?  No, we hadn’t.  That’s when the pouring rain began.  In the dark.  In the mountains.  With a seat that wouldn’t allow me to properly reach the controls.  With severe gas cramps desperately trying to distract me.

When the rain stopped, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I was physically miserable, but we only had fifteen minutes to go.  I actually started compiling this story in my head at this time.  I thought about all that had transpired so far and how funny it would be.  I knew it would be a bit long for the basic internet reader’s attention span, but I knew it would be worth it.  We had been through a lot and I had nearly gotten us to the hotel.  We were home free.

That’s when the deer ran out in front of me and I peed my pants.

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4 responses to “Rescuing the ‘Rents (A True Story)

  1. Hahaha, couldn’t you send the gas out the cracked-open window?

  2. I could NOT have survived.

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