Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Airport Run

Crossing Paths: The Airport Run.

I learned an unlikely, valuable lesson while dropping my mother off at the airport.

At three-thirty one morning my alarm went off, and I stumbled blearily through the house, preparing to make an airport run. My mother was headed back to her home in another state, and I was the chosen one of four adult children, selected to get her to the airport safely.

The amusing thing about my mother, and I say this with love, is that she packs, unpacks, and repacks. Now don’t get me wrong; she is not a packrat. She just happens to be a woman who exercises the right to change her mind, over and over, as to what she’s going to take and leave when ending a visit.

This visit was a bit unusual. She came at the request of my only single brother, who decided to marry his fiancé before the end of the year. Usually Mom will stay several weeks and visit with her children and grandchildren. This trip was limited to five days, because she wanted to get back home for Christmas.
Being the elegant lady that she is, she usually brings along several suitcases, dedicated hat boxes, a portable closet and packs a large array dresses with the hats, shoes and purses to match. A fashionista must have unlimited choices, right? But this time, she brought just one outfit for the occasion, a change of casual clothes for a few days and not much else, except for one additional suitcase, and it was empty. Very suspicious, I thought. I watched her closely, to see if she was going to go through my cabinets and retrieve all her dishes and clothes I’d pilfered from her house the last time I was there.

When I started to pack the car, I noticed there were two fully packed suitcases. She’d gone shopping and filled the one suitcase right back up. I don’t even remember when she slipped out, but she did so successfully, and loaded the empty suitcase with ‘supplies’ that she claimed she couldn’t find in her state.
I dragged a suitcase out, and she stopped me. She’d forgotten to pack her house slippers. We opened the suitcase, moved some things around, and I threw my weight onto the canvas as I struggled to zip it back up. “Are you sure they are going to take this?” I asked. “It has to weigh at least 150 pounds.” “Stop being sassy and put it in car,” she warned.

We were about ten miles from my house headed to the airport when she exclaimed, “I forgot my meds!” I immediately changed lanes and exited the freeway. She said, “No Baby, I left some at the house on the counter. But don’t worry. I have the bottles in my suitcase.”

Inwardly I groaned. I took a sip of coffee and jumped back on the freeway. When we arrived, I notified a skycap that I needed a wheelchair. He immediately contacted an escort, and she walked over, and appeared to rush my mother as she dug through her suitcase for her meds. I stood back, irritated at the escort. I thought her as pushy and slightly rude, although she wasn’t saying anything. She continued to stand and wait as Mom dug for her meds. I watched the escort as she watched my mother. I couldn’t read the expression on her face, but it looked as though she was no-nonsense, void of personality. She wheeled her into the terminal, and I followed with the suitcases, dropped them next to the wheelchair, and ran out to park before my car got towed.

Throwing my purse in the trunk, I ran back in so I could escort my mother to the gate. When I found her, I realized I’d left my driver’s license in the car, so I wouldn’t be able to go any farther than the elevator. I knew the seemingly impatient escort would not wait for me to go back, get my license and wait for clearance to go past the screening without a plane ticket, so I said goodbye to my mother at the elevator. I had a slight attitude too, and I blamed the escort. If she hadn’t been so pushy, I thought, I would have remembered to bring my license.
I waited about thirty minutes and called my mom. She was sitting at the gate. I blurted out, “That escort was rude. Did you tip her?” “Yes, I did,” Mother replied. “Why?” I asked. “Didn’t you think she was rude?”

My mother said, with her usual patience, “At first I did. But after you kissed me and said goodbye, she asked were you my daughter. She said, ‘She seems as though she loves you very much.’ I told her that you did. She then apologized for appearing to rush me from the curb, but she explained that it was so cold out there; she just wanted to get me inside where it was nice and warm. She also told me that her mother died last year, and she thought back to her mother when you kissed me. She said she missed her mother so much. We had the most pleasant conversation after she took me through screening.”

Several thoughts flashed through my mind. It was early in the morning and all I could think about was getting back into my warm bed. I also thought about the look the escort had on her face. In retrospect, I believe it was a yearning for the same interaction that my mother and I had that morning as I dragged one suitcase, and then another, opening them on the curb so she could find her meds.

It is amazing what we take for granted: conveniences, life, and the people we love. We believe we are never going to be without food, shelter, money and transportation, and most importantly, the relationships and people we love the most. Though I will most likely never cross paths with ‘the escort’ again, she made me realize how grateful I am for the relationship I have with my mother. And if I’m privileged to take her to the airport again, I promised myself I’ll be both a little more patient and a little less selfish with my thoughts. Pick up the phone and tell someone you love them. Just because.
Merry Christmas!

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