Jen Jeffrey: Road Trip With Mama - Part One

Monday, March 17, 2014 - by Jen

How it all started.

Once upon a time there were two best friends named Peggy and Shirley. They played bridge together while their husbands played golf and their children also played together.

Shirley’s youngest daughter Jenny was a little over a year old when Peggy had her youngest son, Jason. Little Jenny thought he was the most beautiful thing and wanted to hold him. She asked if she could hold the baby, but she was told politely by his mother, “Well, honey he’s sleeping right now.” Little Jenny didn’t understand that she was too little herself to hold the baby, so she thought the only thing keeping her from holding him was that he was asleep.

Even though just a wee one herself, Jenny remembers trying to wake the baby up as he lay in his carrier. If he would just wake up, she could hold him, but he would not wake from her nudges against the baby carrier. The only other thing Jenny knew to do was to pinch him to get him awake. She pinched his little arm and he woke up crying. Peggy gathered that pretty baby in her arms but little Jenny still didn’t get to hold him. She doesn’t remember anything else about that time, but is sure her Mama scolded her for that. There were only vague flashes of childhood play in her memory after that incident and many years later before she would get to hold that beautiful baby.

Forty-five Years and Four Months Later

Talking Mama into a road trip to Murray, Ky., was difficult…at first. What was difficult was having the time draw near to go and her wanting to back out… about 20 times. Each time, she came up with a reason of why she shouldn’t go, but I knew once she put her fears aside she would be so glad she went and I kept reassuring her.

Three days before the trip as Mama watched me prepare by taking my car to be serviced and doing all the packing for both of us for our seven-day trip, she was getting excited. It was a lot to have on me by myself, but I knew it would be worth it. I didn’t mind the errands - shopping for mama, or the packing… what took the most energy was the ‘pulling teeth’ I had to do each time she became stubborn and I had to once again talk her into the trip. Now that she was really on board – it was a piece of cake.

Jason had told me of a few things to expect when we would be there. One of which, his mom Peggy was going to be in a play at the ‘Playhouse in the Park’. That would be something fun to do. Peggy is zany and fun and still plays bridge every week. She is very active in the community and it would be good for Mama to see that she herself …‘isn’t dead yet’! Mama would stay with Peggy for the first part of the week and then stay at Jason’s with me later.

On The Road

After I went to bootcamp that Friday morning, when I got home to take my shower, Mama was ready and even a little impatient to get started on our trip. I had everything packed and the car was filled with gas – I just needed to shower and we were ready to begin our trip.

We stopped to eat and as we passed through Monteagle we took in the beauty of the drive and we sang along to my “as Isaac’ CD. Mama was taking the trip well and the first part was easy.

Jason asked me to call him when I got to Nashville. I don’t use the phone while driving and when I travel to see Jason I always wait until I get past the busy part of Nashville traffic before I call him. We were into Clarksville stopping for a bathroom break when I called Jason and, like all men do, Jason told me of a ‘better way to go’ than what my GPS told me to go.

I am sure I don’t have to tell you this was not a good idea.

Jason’s house is outside of Murray, in Kirksey. It is ‘back-roads-country’ so giving his idea a shot, I took the Cadiz exit like Jason said. He told me it would take us right to his road. What he didn’t tell me was if I turned left or right when I got off the exit and ‘Samantha’ – the voice of my GPS didn’t tell me either. She was busy trying to get me back on the interstate. I took a guess and turned left, but Mama was a little nervous that it might not be the correct way.

As Sammy kept asking us to make a U-turn each time we passed an opening in the middle grassy area of the highway, Mama and I both were afraid that if I kept going I may be going the wrong direction and would only take us out further. It didn’t help that strong winds were pelting my Jeep and making me ‘white-knuckle’ the steering wheel just to keep it in the road. As the wind hit the windows, it sounded as if it would bust right through. I wasn’t worried though, I had been seeing a sequence of my God-wink number (22) for a few days and especially on the trip. I finally listened to Sam’s voice and she got us back on the interstate, but now we were 20 minutes behind than if we had just listened to her in the first place.

The Reunion

When we pulled up to Jason’s house, Mama went to the bathroom and we all headed for Peggy’s house. To see the two old friends hug for the first time was priceless. It was like watching family greet each other. They both have said they were like sisters. Jason’s brother Robert was there too and that meant a lot to me. I wished his wife Stephanie was with him. I still haven’t met her and hope to soon.

Peggy had a good Kentucky dinner of slow-cooked pork tenderloin waiting for us and then Jason and I unloaded Mama’s bags from the car. It was a long day, so Jason and I didn’t get to visit much that evening, but the next day we were excited to spend time together. Jason wanted to take me to the Visitor’s Center, The Home Place 1850 and the Elk and Bison Prairie.

I had gotten ready while he took care of the greyhounds and, while he got ready, I planned to do a little work. When I went out to the car to get a cord for my laptop I even thought to make sure that I unlocked the outside door to not lock myself out. What I didn’t make sure of was unlocking the door in the garage to the house.

Locked Out!

As I passed by the greys and petted them, I got to the door to go in the house and realized that that one was locked. I knew Jason would be in the back taking a shower and would never hear me. I thought maybe he hadn’t started his shower yet, so I rang the doorbell.

Oh no… that wasn’t a doorbell - it was the garage door opener! One of the greys, named “Sweetie” thought it was time to play and she started to head for the half opened garage door. “Sweetie, no… come here,” I said.

“Spec” the other grey (named Special Purpose in his racing days) was content to just watch. I led Sweetie back towards the steps to the house from the garage and tried to figure out how to close the garage door again. I was afraid it would go all the way up before coming back down, but luckily when I pushed it, it closed. Now, I just had to wait on Jason to find me (so much for getting a little work done).

After petting the ‘kids’ again (as Jason calls them) I started knocking on the window of the door hoping Jason would eventually come rescue me. I would look at the doggies in between knocks and they seemed amused at my predicament looking just as interested as I was in what I would do to get out of my dilemma.

Finally, in between knocks, Jason was in view passing to the laundry room and he smiled and nodded at me. I started laughing as I realized he didn’t understand that I was locked out. He thought I was just being with the kids. I knocked again and he came to open the door. I now have a key.

Charge!

It was a great day for sight-seeing and after a country breakfast at Rudy’s, Jason and I went to the Elk and Bison prairie. I had seen buffalo before (when I interviewed Burton Brown in Chattanooga Valley who has a bison farm) but never up close. Jason and I drove the loop around the prairie in hopes of seeing a few elk and buffalo, but at first there weren’t any in sight. Then we saw a few of the bison lying in the grass close to the road and I snapped a few pictures from the truck. They were quite large but Jason’s truck was larger so it wasn’t intimidating.

Then as we left the prairie, Jason saw a side road where another car was pulled over and a herd of buffalo were grazing by a fence. We pulled over and I got out so I could take a few pictures close up. I was amazed at the size of their heads and listening to their breath. Do you know how you read about the breath of God? This was that kind of thing. It was a blast of air coming through their nostrils with a magnified sound more than what I have heard from a horse or cow. This was intimidating!

Just to hear the breathing of such a large and mighty animal was magnificent! They came close to the fence and, after taking a few pictures, I turned on the video recorder to try and capture that breathing sound. One huge buffalo with horns had his head down and was right in front of me with his nostrils blasting air. As I moved my eye away from the viewfinder, I noticed that his left leg was sort of digging in the dirt. From what I have seen in cartoons and movies, this looked like the start of a charging animal.

I could sense that my bullish friend was warning me and I nervously asked Jason, “Uh, baby? Why is he doing his foot like that?” Jason having already backed up told me I was too close and needed to back up. I backed up until the big snorter turned away and then I saw a smaller one coming up to the fence and I wanted to pet it. I asked Jason if I could pet it and he said, “I believe that’s against the law.” I didn’t know if he was telling the truth or if he was saying that to get me not to do it.

We did more sight-seeing and came back to town and had a Chicago dog at Mugsy’s. I wanted pizza, because I had never had a Chicago pizza before and the guy who owned Mugsy’s is from Chicago. It smelled so good when we walked in. We really weren’t that hungry though after our delicious breakfast so I just got a hot dog and Jason got his usual sausage dog.

Jason took me to see a building that recently collapsed on the same row of businesses where my grandfather’s store was. I am not sure if it collapsed from seismic activity or what, but only two buildings were affected.

We went to get Mama from Peggy’s and took her to the play since Peggy left early for rehearsal. Peggy was playing a hypochondriac in one of the skits that had the “Red Feather Society” ladies. It was so funny. The skits were put on by a group called the “The Old Duffers and Powder-Puffers” led by Lisa Cope.

It was a delight to see Peggy and her boyfriend Nelson acting and having fun, but it was so great to see seniors having fun! I think it is a wonderful thing what Lisa is doing and I'm glad Peggy and Nelson are involved. This is the type of thing I could see Mama enjoying if I could get her interested in some sort of senior citizen group or activity.

On Sunday Jason and I met Peggy and Mama at the Hardin Baptist Church with pastor Ricky Cunningham. The church was pretty big for such a small community, but several attend from the surrounding communities. I was greeted in the foyer by Lisa Betts – one of my new Facebook friends. The theme for a series the church was introducing that day was “Route 66” and the sanctuary was decorated with Route 66 paraphernalia and road signs. They planned to take the community ‘on a trip’ for the next 66 weeks using each of the 66 books in the Bible pointing to God and His direction.

It was a fabulous introduction of the adventure they will begin next week and I wish I were there for the next 66 weeks to attend. It was neat how God tied their road trip theme into my path with my own little road trip with Mama. Another God-wink.

Aside from a lunch date with old neighbors today, the next two days will be work days for Jason and I so this ends part one of my road trip with Mama. Stay tuned next week for the continuation when we take Mama around town and I do something scary…

jen@jenjeffrey.com

 

 

 



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