Welcome back, dear readers! I can’t thank you enough for travelling with mama and me on her birthday adventure and lending me your ears to share our memories. If you missed the first parts of this series, find part one here and part two here! Happy reading!
I would say our mother-daughter trip began early on a Monday morning, September 21st, 2015, to be exact, but…
it actually began before then.
It began at Trip Advisor, scouting out all the best places to eat and stay and shop in Nantucket. It began at Dillard’s and J. Crew and Banana Republic, buying new sunglasses and loungewear and cardigans to take on our trip. It began with an online friend who listened to my fears, prayed for me, helped me plan and told me about a special book that would end up playing a big role in our trip (more on that later). It began one dark night, as I rocked my baby boy on the edge of my bed, tears flowing at the thought of spending ONE night away from this beloved extension of my heart, let alone four! It began with heartwrenching goodbyes to each of my children late Sunday night, the unsurety that I always feel about us making it back together again filling up my soul with trembles and doubt. It began with one last tiptoe up the stairs to drink in the sight of their sleeping faces, praying with all my heart that I would hold them again. It began with an amazing husband, deep-down happy and eager to take on a week of housework and homeschool, without blinking an eye, so he could honor his mother-in-law and bless his wife. It began with a daddy, willing to splurge on the trip of a lifetime for this wife who is so different than him, but so worth it…
And then, yes, our trip literally began. Still dark outside, I kissed and hugged my husband one last time, my tears bravely tucked away for the rest of the week – I was determined! This was MOM’S trip, and I would not sully it with my homesickness! – and walked resolutely down the sidewalk, my rolling suitcase making quite the statement on our cobblestone path.
“Something BIG is happening!!” it reverberated through the silent morning, “Mrs. Gore is going places!!!”
My daddy helped me load up my bag – we were traveling very light – and with the thud of the back hatch and three car doors, we were really on our way.
I was keeping a secret, though.
All the way to Tulsa, though I spoke oh so brightly and tried very hard to conceal the fact that I had a massive (MASSIVE!!) sinus headache, by the time we made it to the airport, I was as close as I had been in some time to throwing up.
I wanted to cry!!!
Why was this happening, now, of all days???
I can’t rightly convey the misery, trying to be chipper and focused on Mom’s special day, yet really unsure how I was going to make it another minute without dying.
The headline would read: Local Woman Dies in Tulsa Airport of Sinus Headache and Acute Plane-o-phobia.
And now I was in a real pickle. I had a whole pack of Tylenol Cold and Sinus in my carry-on bag, but I am quite sensitive to medicine.
What if it made me so sleepy I couldn’t function?
What if it made me even more nauseous?
What if it make me so hyper I’d be WIDE AWAKE on the flight?
What to do???
Finally, I could stand it no more. Throwing my paranoid collection of questions to the wind, I took the full dose and just prayed for the best. This headache could ruin the start of our mother-daughter extravaganza, and it simply had to go.
Thank God, about ten minutes into our flight to Dallas, the pain began to abate, and I could think clearly and smile sincerely once more.
Great news, yes?
Not so fast.
By the time another ten minutes had passed, I discovered a new crisis: my limbs, thanks to the full dose I had taken, were beginning to feel like jell-o, jiggling about in a bowl in the refrigerator.
I did my best to snuff out this alarming awareness, but the escalating thickness of head and limb became impossible to ignore when we stood up to disembark for our layover and my main question became this: HOW AM I GOING TO WALK????
How was I, in this heavily drugged-up state, to carry our bags and act normal for Mom? I needed a wheelchair…a fainting couch…a conveyor belt…a man to carry me…anything!
But this was my first test of selflessness and I was dead determined to tough it out: how I managed to walk across that airport with our bags and pillows and normally converse with my mom and the other folks we met on the train, I’ll never know. I was dying inside. Dying.
No longer from a headache, but an overwhelming desire to dig a hole in the airport tiles and hibernate for the winter.
For a girl who is rarely sick and simply wanted to give her mom the week of a lifetime, this was a lot of drama to face, especially before 8:00 in the morning.
Thankfully, though, sometime during our flight to Boston, things began to even out and I was no longer ruled by the headache or the medicine. I’d been traveling on a pendulum since leaving our house, swinging first this way, allllll the way to the left, and then swinging the other way, allllll the way to the right and how WONDERFUL it felt to be back in the middle again!
And this was one of the funniest parts of our trip, our time in the airplane together.
Flying used to be fun for me and I was a well-traveled gal, but once I had kids, a new anxiety was born, and it settled with a vengeance.
Therefore, while we were in the air, this trip became just a teensy bit about me. Obviously, I had to have the window seat so I wouldn’t be by a stranger whilst trying to compose my inner junk, but I also couldn’t have the window shade raised so I could block out the view and pretend that we weren’t in the clouds, but on a happy little bus, on the ground.
I also couldn’t speak. Or look around. Or make or listen to jokes.
So basically, my mom was stuck in the middle of the row, in darkness and absolute silence. But she and I both knew that this was just part of the getting there…I was deeply suffering for her, because I LOVE her…and she was both tickled and touched by the drama.
Neither of us, however, had any idea that our first two flights were just the prologue to a greater drama that lie ahead for us.
After walking in confused circles at the Boston Airport in pursuit of our new gate and meeting many…er, frank?…Bostonian airport workers who obviously thought we were daft Oklahoman looneytunes, we finally were directed to a completely different wing of the airport, one with a separate name, security gate, and staff.
This seemed odd, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I’d never seen a set-up like this in all my acquaintance with airports; we were in too big of a hurry to do much guessing, though and, arriving at our gate, we had been seated for approximately two minutes…
(we even had time to take a selfie!)
…when our names were called over the loudspeaker.
Puzzled, we went to the front desk to speak to the associate, a kind lady who greeted us with one simple question: “We just need to know your weight for your upcoming flight to Nantucket?”
This felt like an important moment, one that demanded honesty, so I proceeded to answer with a weight only five pounds below my actual weight instead of twenty, like I normally put on my driver’s license.
And this is when the question marks started flying through my brain. “This is all so strange…” I thought, but I couldn’t even drum up a scenario that made her question make sense.
That is, until they called our flight number.
My mom and I stood up, along with six other people – that’s right, I said six – and the group of us were instructed to walk, single file, down a long staircase and wait at the glass door for further direction.
I was getting nervous by this point…very, very nervous…but with no experiences like this to draw from, I had no idea what was happening. I couldn’t even guess. I was all question marks now. Really, my brain looked like this:
After waiting for a couple of minutes, the entire group of us nervously laughing and wondering what in the world was going on, a flight attendant approached the door and opened it.
“Single file,” she reminded us, “please follow me.”
A wave of fresh, comfortable air hit my face and before me, on the tarmac, I beheld a collection of tiny planes.
I blinked, disbelieving, as my brain and my reflexes struggled to work together, first to comprehend what I was seeing, and then to find an escape route, godspeed.
“But…my mom!… my MOM…” my conscience reminded me, and my feet continued to march me forward, my expression impassive but my eyes as big as the biggest plane in front of me.
Which was, don’t forget, tiny.
I couldn’t begin to pick which one I’d rather die in…er, fly in…because they were all about as big as a Matchbox car.
But I didn’t get to pick. Our line was led to one plane, in particular, where a smiling pilot greeted us and said, “Welcome to Boston, folks, destination Nantucket. Who wants to be my copilot?”
Dearly beloved internet, I will never be able to explain how I was able to pass my bags over to the attendant (who stowed them IN THE WING…my laptop!…my fancy camera!…my identification!!!!) and board that dying machine…er, flying machine…knowing that, not only would I go up into the air in it, I would go up into the air and OVER THE OCEAN.
The situation before me, one that I’d had no idea to prepare for (if I had, we definitely would have taken the ferry!!) was the culmination of so many of my biggest fears, it made my head spin: Tight spaces. Airplane. Surrounded by strangers. Ocean.
I’ve always broken into near-hyperventilation at the thought of entering into an MRI scanner. This was like FLYING in one, miles and miles above the water, with people you don’t know staring at you and observing your paranoia. Certain death. CERTAIN DEATH.
But, doggone it, y’all…
I DID it.
I got on that plane.
Well, I crawled into it.
But…I did it!!!!!
I did it for my mom and only my mom, so help me God.
Now, remember how I gulped when the pilot asked for a co-pilot?
Thankfully, a courageous young man was eager to fulfill that role. Phew! Close call!
I, LUCKY ME, got to sit directly behind the co-pilot, with my knees touching his seat. You see, this plane was so tiny that EVERYONE WAS THE CO-PILOT!!!!
It’s so funny!!!
The pilot quickly gave us the run-down, telling us where we were going, how the weather looked, and that we would be landing in Nantucket in forty minutes.
Our group nodded, placidly.
“FORTY MINUTES!!!” I inwardly screamed.
Forty minutes. That’s close to an hour. That’s a whole episode of Gilmore Girls. That’s a church sermon, on a day when my husband’s not preaching.
So here’s what I did. It’s what I had to do.
I told my mom I was going under and that I wouldn’t be talking to her, or anybody, only God, for forty minutes.
I slid down in my seat, I closed my eyes, I accepted my mama’s petite, cool hand in my large and clammy one and…
I counted to sixty, very deliberately, very slowly, very calmly…
One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand, five one thousand…
I did not stop.
I did not open my eyes.
I did not think.
I did not move my head to the right or the left.
I just counted and I breathed.
In and out.
In and out.
In and out.
It was, in reality, a forty minute mind game. I was counting and I was trying not to picture the tiny plane that I was in, which would then cause me to picture the tiny plane that I was in, and I was trying not to picture the ocean below me, which would then cause me to picture the ocean below me, and then I’d think about the numbers I was counting and try to focus solely on them, ignoring, to the best of my ability, the sky wind that was coming in through the OPEN WINDOWS of the front seat and…
(see? see the open windows? see how close I am to the pilot?!?!)
…and somewhere in the middle of our march to doom, I took a moment to think it, because God had pushed me into this crazy, hilarious, terrifying situation where the affection had been tested and now proven: “I love her,” my heart declared. “I love this woman and I know now that I would do ANYTHING for her and…I think she knows it, too. Thank you, God…”
It felt good. I knew in that moment that, even if we died, even if our plane crashed, even if I never saw my little family again, I had trusted and obeyed God in this journey and, frantic as the situation felt to my external senses, I was at peace in my heart. The bond between us was complete, in a sense, and so tangible and pure that it cloaked me in a comfort that felt like Eden.
Well, praise be to the Maker…PRAISE BE TO THE MAKER!!!…on my fortieth round of sixty seconds, my mom squeezed my hand and quietly murmured, “You really need to open your eyes now, we’re landing. You HAVE to see this!!!”
I opened them, blinking at the brightness of the world I had shut out for forty minutes.
And do you know what I saw ahead, with just a little bit of ocean between us?
And, how beautiful this land, in particular, was, surrounded by ocean, this little sandy line of earth that was beckoning us down…
But, looking to my left, a relieved smile of victory dawning across my features, I saw a sight more beautiful than land, more beautiful than Nantucket, more beautiful than safety and comfort, and more beautiful than the end of this flight, and it was the face of my mother.
She was beaming.
Her eyes were lit up like a child’s in front of a birthday candle and her smile was as free as I’d ever seen it.
She looked…full…somehow, from the inside out, full of adventure, full of excitement, full of life! This woman whom I had watched for years and years at the kitchen sink, at the kitchen stove, at the washer, at the dryer, in the church nursery, in the flower beds…
she was high in the sky, with water below, the wind in her hair, adventure in her heart, and she was beaming.
The sinus headache, the drug coma and my forty minutes of tiny plane hell had most definitely been worth it.
Me and the co-pilot, after landing. He doesn’t know I almost threw up in his hoodie there.
Introducing…Miss Nantucket!!! It suits her, don’t you think?
I’m happy here. SO HAPPY. And, I have to admit, even though I’d spent the last forty minutes inwardly whimpering like a baby, I felt pretty hardcore after conquering the Cessna. It wasn’t no big thang…
Goodbye, tiny planes. I’ll see you again in four days…
“Poor Mole stood alone in the road, his heart torn asunder and a big sob gathering, gathering, somewhere low down inside him, to leap up to the surface presently, he knew, in passionate escape. But even under such a test as this his loyalty to his friend stood firm.
Never for a moment did he dream of abandoning him. Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him imperiously. He dared not tarry longer within their magic circle. With a wrench that tore his very heartstrings he set his face down the road and followed submissively…”
The Wind in the Willows
Phew! We did it! We survived the journey and now we’re ready to explore the gorgeous island of Nantucket. Stay tuned for our next stop, the Union Street Inn! And until then, keep up with Mrs. Gore and family on Facebook!