Tuesday, November 11, 2008

People will disapprove of you if you're unhappy, or if you're happy in The Wrong Way. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

Why is it that with some people, no matter what you do, they could never acknowledge that you've ever done or will do anything right? No matter what it is, no matter how hard you try, if you say something - it's the wrong thing to say. . . if you don't say something - that's wrong, too. No matter what you do, they always find fault. You can never meet their expectations. . .never. So, stop guessing and go about your life!

With that little rant out of the way. . .

Karen is here and settling in. She is thinking that she will only be here 4 or 5 months. I hope that she is giving herself enough time to really get back on her feet.

I haven't written much about the trip, but it was extremely tiring for me. I've been sleeping a lot and trying to get rested up, going to bed extra early and having difficulty getting up in the morning. Last Sunday, I didn't get up until almost 8:30! That's almost two hours later than my usual time.

The first day driving and the first night's stop-over weren't half bad. I stopped in Tucumcari, New Mexico. It was the usual - nice, comfortable bed, quiet. The second day I drove to Flagstaff and stopped for the night, but when I got out of the car at the hotel I heard a train whistle - pretty loud. The sign attached to the front desk inside said "Railroad crossing nearby". Oh, crap! I asked the clerk if the trains ran all night. "24/7, right through the middle of Flagstaff," she cheerfully replied. Double crap! She called around and was able to find me another room at another hotel a little further away from the train tracks - for 3 times the cost. No thank you, I'll suffer (even though I don't suffer well, according to my sister-in-law, Carol). The clerk wound up providing me with a set of ear plugs. I was tired and rude. She was kind and patient. I went back and apologized later. It was a fitful night. I only slept off and on. I probably should have just driven all the way to Las Vegas instead of stopping, but I hate ~ REALLY, REALLY HATE ~ driving at night.

So, on day three I arrived at Karen's a little before noon. I sat down for a couple of hours, then we packed all of her stuff in my Expedition that afternoon, except the animals. Later, we went out to eat and had Chinese food for dinner and then, for me, it was bedtime and I was sharing a king-size bed with Karen, a cat and three little dogs, one of which kept insisting (through body language) that I was sleeping in his spot! That is not what kept me awake all night. What drove me nuts was the loud, echoing drip, drip, drip in the shower in the bathroom. I woke up every hour and every hour I thought, Oh, gawd, how am I going to be rested enough to drive to Holbrook tonight.

The next morning, day four, I was up at 6:30am, functioning on pure adrenalin. Karen, not being a morning person, was still sound asleep, but I woke her around 7:00am to let her know I was going to Starbucks (just around the corner...sort of) to get some coffee and give her time to get up and get ready to go. We had planned to stop at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery on our way out of Las Vegas to visit Dad and Mom's and Bob's grave sites to say final good-byes.

This was my first visit to the cemetery and to see where my mom and dad ashes are buried.

What I realized when I uploaded the photos I took that day was that Bob was the same age as Tom. I got this fleeting moment of panic and had to pull myself together. Then I thought it was odd that I didn't notice the age thing while we were at the cemetery. I think I was just numb by then.

So, off we were, over Hoover Dam and on our way home...well, my home.

Karen left three animals home with Bob's son. Rocco (the dog I displaced in the king size bed) and Rosie (the dog that would just as soon bark and bite me than look at me), both miniature pinschers, and a cat, whose name escapes me. She brought two critters with her. Bella, also a miniature pinscher, but she looks more like a small blimp with toothpicks. She's on a diet. Dusty is a cat. I'm lucky to catch her on the bed facing forward. Most of the time, I only see her butt as she scurries under the bed.

So, anyway, back to the trip. Bella spent most of her time in Karen's lap, was a good traveler and slept most of the time. Dusty traveled in a pet carrier and was upset for about an hour or so, then calmed down and we rarely heard anything from her either.

Karen also slept quite a bit. She's not used to getting up early and I am an early task master (not such a good thing sometimes), although I am sure she was just exhausted anyway.

As we passed through Flagstaff on our way home, I thought I had really miscalculated the trip back. We would have arrived in Holbrook, Arizona by 2:00pm and I thought, What a waste of good driving time that could get us closer to our destination with fewer days on the road. I was extremely tired and I just wanted to be home in my own house, sleeping in my own bed. I had to make some quick decisions and I decided to call and cancel our prepaid reservations in Holbrook and Amarillo and fight with Travelocity to get my money back after I got home. At that point, I didn't even care if I got my money back.

We drove all the way to Tucumcari and arrived after dark about 7:30 or 8:00pm. Hampton Inn, my favorite place to stay when I travel, does not allow pets, so we had to find a pet friendly motel. I have two words of advice: NO MICRO-TEL! I won't even tell you why, just take my word for it and never stay at one. Okay, yes, I will. Disgusting, smelly, yellow sheets and the kind of carpet you don't want to touch with bare feet! I won't even touch the "lack of ability to communicate"(theirs, not mine) as it would sound extremely racist. But, I was at the end of day four ~ exhausted ~ and this was the only pet-friendly room available.

Long story short, we were home on Saturday instead of Sunday, but they were 5 looooong days of driving. Tom fed us well; I went to bed early; and Tom unloaded the car the next morning. It was my first really good night's sleep in 6 days.

How is Karen doing? It is hard to say. She is sad, of course, but doesn't show it much. She has withdrawn to some degree, but everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Karen isn't any different. Even though she and Bob never "married," they were as married as any couple. Bob's death has turned her life upside down and inside out. His reckless financial choices and rocky family relationships left Karen with nothing to fall back on except her own strong will. Nothing except Bella and Dusty is as familiar or comfortable in the only way her own home and surroundings can be.

We are just taking things one day at a time...

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