Sunday, July 21, 2013

Travels with Mom

The last time I checked Vermont was not located between Massachusetts and South Carolina. However, traveling with Mom this week I have discovered that according to her travel plans, or lack of plans, Vermont fits nicely between the two, with a few extra turns along the way.

And that is the way it is traveling with Mom. We sort of mapped out a route to my home in South Carolina from hers in Eastern Massachusetts, but have gone off course more times than I can count. I think that by the time we arrive in South Carolina I will have driven well over 1500 miles. Yikes! But along all those extra miles there have been stories . . . lots of stories.

I have heard stories of her childhood growing up in Springfield, stories of my great-grandmothers journey across the border into Vermont from Canada, stories of her 60 year love affair with my Dad, stories of their early years scraping by on a teacher’s salary of $2000.00 per year while raising four children and stories of friends along her journey of life. We even got to spend some time with an old friend along the way and ended up at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

In the wise words of Arlo Guthrie, “You can get anything you want . . . “.  My Mom’s response, “I have all I could have ever asked or dreamed for.”  Her life stories reveal her character, for even in her struggles in life, she can say she’s gotten more than she ever hoped for. How many of us can say that? Perhaps more of us could if we measured our life by friends, family and stories rather than material possessions.

This evening I am writing my weekly blog entry from a cabin at Big Meadow on the Skyline Drive. In October of 1954 Mom and Dad came here on their honeymoon.  They did not have money for a cabin and were tent camping in the midst of a cold rainy week in Shenandoah National Park. In an effort to stay somewhat warm and dry they snuck into the lodge and used the dining room restroom facilities to change into warm dry pajamas and wring out their sleeping bags. They stayed in the lodge as long as possible and then headed back to their campsite and dashed into the tent between down pours. They listened to the rain all night on the roof of the tent.

Tonight Mom and I listen to the rain on the roof of the cabin as we sit by the fire. We ate dinner in the lodge and didn’t have to sneak into the facilities. I think my mom would rather be in a soaking wet tent with Dad by her side than warm and dry in a cabin and missing him. But she’s happy to be traveling again and revisiting the stories of her life. I am privileged to be here with her, hearing her stories and sharing her memories. Time is a precious thing, and for me, family and the stories we share are everything.

So driving over 1500 miles from Massachusetts to South Carolina via Vermont, is it worth it? Absolutely!

(c) 7-21-2012 Martha Reed Johnson