One summer Fmom received an invitation from some very old family friends (C & A). They were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and wanted the family to come to it. Since most of the family either couldn’t get off work or were busy with other things, it ended up that Fmom and my Aunt K were the only two that could go. Aunt K and Fmom still drove around town, but for long trips they had to have someone drive them. As you might have already guessed and by the title of this post, yes I was picked as the driver.
C & A had lived about a half a mile down the road from our second house in Arkansas. He was a farmer like Fdad and his land abutted our land. C & A had three children and their oldest daughter was in the same class as I was. C & A were also good friends with Aunt K and her husband Uncle L. So to say I’ve known them all my life is sort of a given. Once they retired they decided to move away from the farm, dirt roads, constant dust during the summer and mud during the winter. They had decided to move near the Ozark Mountains in Northeast Arkansas.
A week before the Anniversary both Fmom and Aunt K were started to get excited about going. Honestly at that point in time, I would have preferred not to go. This was about three months after I had broken the vertebra in my back and riding for long periods was very painful. However, Fmom and Aunt K were so excited about the trip I couldn’t turn them down. Aunt K had already told me we were going to use her car and there were no two ways about it. She had a Ford Contour that was in good shape with the exception that the driver’s outside mirror had recently been broken and she hadn’t had a chance to get it replaced yet. She fretted over this a good bit, but I told her not to worry because even with a mirror present that I always glanced over my left shoulder when I got ready to change into the left lane.
So we set out from Alabama to Northeast Arkansas. Aunt K and I set up front and Fmom set in the back. Now Aunt K was a joy to ride with. She never said slow down, speed up, turn left or turn right. She reminded me of a little kid that loved just looking at the scenery and enjoying it all. Since my back was giving me trouble with all that riding and glancing over my left shoulder when changing lanes, we would stop a good bit so I could get out of the car. Aunt K would get out every single time and had to walk around and see everything. Anytime I stopped for gas, she would have to go in the store and look at everything they had. Sometimes I felt like the grownup telling her to come on we had to go. She would give me a look and say in a minute, in a minute I want to see this. Fmom had told me before that when Aunt K had gone on vacations with her and my younger brothers that she always seemed to get more out of the vacations than anyone else. She just enjoyed seeing new places and things.
About half way through the trip and after we were past Memphis, we decided to get off the interstate and take a more direct path there. Now you might be wondering where the heck did Andy Griffith come into the picture. Well Aunt K was playing with the radio until she came on this station that was play some of Andy Griffith very old comedy albums. Yep back in the 50’s he put out some comedy albums that were very popular. Aunt K started reminiscing about what she was during back in the early 50’s and about the comedy routines Andy Griffith had made. Being the dutiful nephew and son I was, I listened to Andy Griffith for about 50 miles. I have to admit that some of it was fairly good, but Fmom and Aunt K seemed to really enjoy it and I guess that was enough for me.
On the way to the anniversary we passed some very beautiful country. I know Aunt K and Fmom had been there before, but they would have me stopping all the time just to get a better look at something or so they could take pictures. It was one of the few times I didn’t bring my camera that I wished I had. We finally got to the town and we had rooms reserved for us. Outside of our rooms was a very big patio with swimming pool and at the end of that was a large meeting hall/ballroom. This was extra convenient because that’s where the anniversary party would be held.
With all the driving, walking and every thing else I had done my back was pretty much killing my by the time we had to walk over to the ballroom. I finally told Fmom and Aunt K to offer my apologies, but I didn’t think I could make it over and would stay in bed. About an hour later C & A, their children, Fmom and Aunt K came to my room to check on me and see if I could get to the party. I told them I was feeling better, but didn’t know about walking over. Someone said that there were enough people at this party with walkers that someone could spare one for awhile. I finally said OK and for everyone to clear out so I could get ready. After what seemed a lifetime, I finally got ready and got over there. I felt like I was the guest of honor because everyone was clearing out of the way for me, finding me the most comfortable chair and bringing me all sort of stuff to eat and drink. I ended up having a pretty good time and enjoyed getting caught up with a lot of people I used to know in Arkansas. I particularly liked getting caught up with C & A’s children. Their oldest girl was a higher up in some computer company and was married to some guy from Canada. They now lived in Atlanta and she kept telling me I should move up there. Their second daughter was just as sweet as could be, married with children and seemed very happy. They son who was always talented and artistic was a musician and playing professionally in a band in Memphis. He gave me the name of some place on Beale Street he played at and wanted me to come by. I told him if I ever got a chance I would. All in all except for my back it was an excellent trip.
We ended up staying an extra day to give my back a little extra time to heal up and then we set off back home. Where as going up there we were on the interstate about half way; we decided while going back to stay off the interstate as much as possible. This was one of our better decisions. We hit some very beautiful countryside and some very nice little towns. As usual Aunt K wanted to stop just about everywhere and with each stop she just seemed to enjoy herself more and more. BTW on the way back we found another radio station that was broadcasting some of Andy Griffith’s old comedy routines. So I got to listen to Andy going up there and coming back. Oh the joy. :)
I guess the thing that made the trip for me was seeing how happy it made Fmom, but most especially Aunt K. She just seemed to light up once we were on the road. I think back now and wish we had taken her on a lot more trips because she did love to travel.
The only thing I can come away with this story is that if you’ve got an older relative to just grab them up from time to time and take them for a ride. Even if it’s a short ride or a long ride, I’m sure they would appreciate it, and they’ll appreciate you taking the time to be with them.
Added: For those of you that have never heard one of Andy Griffith's comedy routines, I found this one in mp3 format. It's been so long since I've posted something like this I hope it works.What It Was, Was Football