If it’s Tuesday, it must be Pittsburgh. It was Tuesday and it was Pittsburgh, the second stop on a whirlwind, nine-day family car trip during school spring break.
We left New Albany early on a Saturday morning to make the nine-hour journey to the first overnight stop, to see Jenny’s parents in northern Kentucky. We timed it so we would arrive in time to take them out to dinner in honor of her father’s 81st birthday.
At least, that was the plan. After stopping for a quick lunch of White Castle hamburgers (a favorite of my wife’s since childhood) in Nashville, we were rolling along on Interstate 65, headed toward Louisville.
My cell phone rang. It was Jenny’s mother; the manager of White Castle had called saying they had found Jenny’s purse hung on the back of one of the chairs. In her purse, they found her cell phone and looked through the contacts until they found a number labeled “Dad.”
Luckily, “Dad,” who was cutting hair in his barber shop as he has done on Saturdays for 60 years, had remembered to turn on his cell phone. He often doesn’t.
We trekked back 40 miles to Nashville, thanked the White Castle manager profusely, and set out again. By the time we got to Jenny’s parents’ house, it was too late to go out to dinner. We ordered pizza.
After a quiet Sunday, we left Monday morning in the rain for the five-hour trip to Pittsburgh to visit my daughter, Morgan, her husband Ryan, and our 6-year-old grandson Sebastian.
We enjoyed a day-and-a-half with them, although they were a bit unnerved because a gunman had burst into the psychiatric hospital where Ryan works as a psychologist the prior Thursday. He killed one employee and wounded several others before being shot by a police swat team.
Wednesday morning we left for the five-hour trip to Ashburn, Va. (suburbs of Washington, D.C.), to spend a day-and-a-half with my son Jon, his wife Mary, and their four kids—Evan, 12; Nicholas, 9; Sarah, 4, and Josiane, nine months.
It was our first time to see Josiane, who was adopted from Rwanda three months ago. Josiane took an instant liking to me, which surprised me (and Jenny, too) because I usually get low marks in the grandfather department.
Friday morning it was off to Winston-Salem, N.C., to have dinner with Joe’s grandmother and father (Jenny’s former husband), John.
I had dreaded it for days. No, not because of John. He’s OK, but he had announced he was going to make his “famous” turkey burgers on the grill. Having read an article recently about what parts of the turkey end up in ground turkey, I thought I was going to be sick.
Why not suggest we have hamburgers instead? I said to Jenny. She told me to grow up and get over it. I sort of did. The “meat” was mixed with spinach and feta cheese, which added a cheese taste. I got one down, politely declined seconds, and kept my thoughts to myself.
Saturday we drove to Anderson, S.C., where I lived for 15 years, and placed a new bouquet of silk flowers on my late wife’s grave. After dinner with some friends Saturday night, we drove the seven hours home Sunday.
Nine days and 2,254 miles. We were exhausted. I need a vacation.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.