Today is July 20, 2013. It is now 7:40am and I am sitting here in my underwear, writing these words. I am charging my Kindle, iPod and cell phone and need to finalize my packing. It is impossible to continue packing while writing so I need to put down this pen and continue getting ready if I am to make it to the airport on time.
The time now is 12:33. I am seated on the plane and awaiting takeoff to Atlanta. I am nervously anticipating the events that are about to unfold, but for now, the only thing happening today is just flying to Chicago. You need to think about this. As I write these words I am seated on the plane after having taken some time off to fly to Chicago. As I write this, I have not seen Oma since she died, I have not seen her in her casket and she has not been buried. Quite a departure from the old days when trips to Chicago were actually fun. Now there are no reasons to look forward to visiting Chicago. Who can we visit anymore? We can’t go to Oma’s house. That’s been sold.
The plane is now beginning its taxi to the runway to begin takeoff. Or was. It’s at a standstill as a final safety check is underway.
What can I say about Chicago anymore? My relatives are gone and so are the reasons to look forward to visiting there. It sure beats doing “courtesy calls” all day.
WHY ARE YOU SO DOWN, DIALER? MISS ME ALREADY?
Stupid Dialer. I bet you right now it’s trying to break into the aircraft communication system right now.
I hear a voice on the intercom. Everyone is puzzled, me included. I don’t know how, but the Dialer broke into the aircraft’s communication system just to harass me.
Suddenly it dawned on me. I knew what to do.
“Hello,” I spoke up. “This is Michael with a courtesy call from AT&T. Before we proceed I need to inform you that this is not a sales call and our conversation may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes. Is this is the primary account holder?”
“This is,” replied the voice.
I nodded and replied, “I am calling to follow up on your U-verse service with AT&T and to thank you for your business. Do you have any remaining issues or concerns you may have with your U-verse TV or Internet service?”
“No,” the voice answered. “Everything’s working good.”
“Excellent!” I replied. “Do you have any questions about your U-verse TV service, features, Internet or e-mail, or your AT&T account in general?”
“No,” the voice repeated. “Everything’s working good.”
“Excellent!” I said. “If you have any questions in the future you can find us on the web at att.com. Thank you for choosing AT&T and have a wonderful day.”
“Thanks for the call.”
It was over. The cabin burst into applause as the plane took off into the cloudy sky.
Oh yeah, the plane’s airborne now.
Too late to turn back.
Descending on Atlanta.
Pick your poison. Would you rather…
Land in Atlanta?
Land in the Atlantic Ocean?
Very smooth flight. Alas, the worst is ahead.
Two funerals, almost one year apart.
Flying across the sky, across my grandmother’s playground.
So Oma flew up here, probably a few days ago. How did the passengers react when they saw a casket being loaded on the plane?
Atlanta is approaching fast.
Time for the Jolt-O-Meter. Too late.
Welcome to Atlanta.
After a quick ride on the train to Gate C, I am now on the plane that will take me closer to Chicago. It is absolutely too late to turn back now. Oma is waiting. Why let her down by not showing up.
The plane is now pulling away from the gate. It’s easy to forget this happens constantly all over the world. As you read this, yes, there is a plane pulling from the gate like this one is.
Raining outside. There was a very strange noise coming from the floor, as if someone were sawing something. The pilot made some announcement that it was raining and “blah blah blah DELAY.”
I did hear about the lightning strikes.
This is starting to feel like an ill-fated flight.
Plane hasn’t moved. It is still raining.
FLIGHT 392 – WE WILL NEVER FORGET?
It is now 4:19. We should’ve been airborne by now. But no. Stupid stubborn thunderstorm has crept into the area and is causing misery. We’ve been sitting on the ground all this time. We should’ve been flying over the clouds. What’s going on? Why can’t I go to Chicago? I’ve gone this far.
I tweeted, “Rain, rain go away, let this airplane fly today.”
I look to the left and see that repulsive sight of rain. It’s taunting us, supposedly daring us to challenge it. “Yeah, you may have a winged marvel there, but nothing tops the power of Nature! PHEER US!”
Stupid drops of water. This is called an airplane, not a waiting room with wings.
It’s slowing down, right? We can leave now, right? No? Why not? Nature, you are worse than the Dialer.
The passengers are totally losing it. They are yelling, screaming, cursing, singing Justin Bieber songs and threatening to “take matters into their own hands”. One of the passengers kicked in the door to the cockpit, seized the pilot and tied him to the top of the airplane and proceeded to steer the plane into flight amidst thunderous applause.
No, the weather seems to have cleared up enough to finally allow takeoff.
The trip can proceed as planned. Good.
The trip can proceed as planned.
The joy of resuming my trip has diminished.
They want us to power off all electronic devices.
Alas, the perks of pen and paper.
Once again the plane sits still in Atlanta. I imagine there’s a long line of planes waiting to take off.
#3 for takeoff.
See? I was right.
Planes waiting for takeoff to take their passengers to funerals to bury their Omas.
Once again the sight of Oma in her casket comes to mind. Remember, I have not seen her yet. Needless to say, I’m nervous.
Why? To watch an old woman sleep?
A meticulously detailed statue.
I have to keep in mind what Oma was going through. She was suffering from dementia and it was only going to get worse. Each time we visited her at the nursing home she would sink deeper in her dementia. I still recall that time she was carrying around a stack of empty papers she said would serve as “proof”. Proof of what, only she knew. We had to play along with Oma’s fantasy and it was painful. Adding on to the pain was knowing it was only going to get worse. Okay, so we didn’t want her to leave us, but at what cost? Her dementia would have left her much worse than she was when she passed.
Finally, the plane is in position to take off. Sure enough, there’s a line of planes behind us, waiting to take off as well.
Finally, the plane is accelerating to takeoff speed. Huzzah.
Yay. We airborne now.
The plane is climbing the sky now soon to rise above the clouds, out of reach of thunderstorms.
I feel pressure on my ears as the plane reaches cruising altitude.
Turbulence. Nature is not finished with us.
Fly above the clouds where the sun shines.
There we go.
The cabin just got brighter.
Cool, we can now turn on our electronic gadgets. Ta ta.
Plane descending down to Chicago. That means it’s time to power off my electronic device. Alas I can still write. It’s hard to see how the flow of ink can interfere with the aircraft’s sensitive electronics.
The flow of ink.
I’m Mike Towrite.
I’m eager for this trip to end. I’d rather the plane descend back home in West Palm Beach.
Back home to Renee, Roxie, collection calls and courtesy calls.
Tomorrow. I see Oma in her casket at the funeral home. Tomorrow. The wake service.
Oma died one week ago. How can she wake up now?
And how will Oma make her presence known? Last year, one of the floor lamps mysteriously flickered and went off. Towards the end of the service, the light turned back on.
No doubt it was Ida. Probably saw some dust.
Now it’s Oma’s turn. How will she make her presence known? I’m sure you know the answer. Wondering about that does take my mind off the sad occasion.
The plane is continuing its descent.
Chicago, now nothing to me but a dead city, is underneath.
The sun is coming from the left side of the aircraft now. I’d think that’s Oma, testing me. Is he coming to my funeral? Oh wait, there he is, writing in his thought book. Good. He does love me.
I do love you, Oma. And I miss you already. So how’s life with Opa?
It is wonderful to be with him again. I thought that day would never come. But it did. He was there, right at my bedside. When I saw him, I knew there was nothing to be afraid of. He took me back. And I am happy now.
The plane is closing in on Chicago now.
Did the landing gear do down? I think it did.
Closer, closer, closer…
Welcome to Chicago!
My first night. I am checked in the motel and have commenced to do some writing before I turn in. Still too much going through my mind right now, especially the events to unfold tomorrow. As I write this, the time is 10:30. I will turn in after I translate these thoughts to words on paper.
I had dinner with my parents at Barraco’s. We had Chicago style pizza and talked about Oma and her declining health. My mother mentioned this trip to Chicago could very well be our last. With our relatives gone, there really is no reason to come here anymore unless we want to visit their graves. It’s still not the same when these relatives were around and happy to see me. Now they’re gone.
My father brought up the topic of visiting Oma’s house one last time before the closing. I can help myself to anything I like. That’s going to be an emotional visit for sure.
Now for the plans for tomorrow. After I write this, I am going to sleep. I need to be up and ready to go to breakfast at 8. Then we will go and pick up Lisa and Rachel from the airport and then grab a late lunch before the WAKE service which has not happened yet. Tomorrow. We see Oma in her casket. TOMORROW. Scary. Monday. We go to the FUNERAL. That hasn’t happened yet either. Sad. Thing is, as you read this, all this has happened. It’s all part of your memory now, and as of right now, it’s up to me in the past to create the memories of the future you now possess. It’s all up to me now. I won’t let you down. Good night.
To be continued…