December 10, 2006

The Journey

Thursday morning I hit the road see my Aunt. As I got onto 270 from the beltway I sped up to get my position in the traffic. The tunes were playing and I was singing along as I flew up the road. Next thing I know there's a police officer on my left who blared his sirens at me and motioned for me to slow down before he cut across the lanes and exited. Phew I was lucky and that set precedence for my speed for the rest of the trip.

In no time I was on 81N driving through the mountains. This is the part I love because the mountains are so beautiful. Since it was a weekday there seemed to be more trucks than what I'm used to but on a road like this but I trust the truck drivers more than some of the cars. As I passed the trucks I would see them look out at me passing but that may have been due to the fact that I was car dancing.

Time flew and before I knew it I was exiting at Scranton looking for Steamtown. I entered the gift shop looking for the train whistles and they told me they were out. I thought "NO WAY!" but then the lady told me there was another gift shop at the other end of the parking lot. I was relieved to find them and picked up some coal too.

I got back on the road towards Carbondale and put on the soundtrack to Last of The Mohicans. The drive was beautiful and just as The Kiss was playing it started to snow. It was so surreal.

I finally arrived at the hospital and Aunt Dot seemed happy to see me. I had never seen her look so awful but I kissed her and acted as if this were like any other visit. I was trying to assess her situation because she's not doing as well as I thought. The paralysis is not improving as well as I was told and there's still definitely facial paralysis. As she ate her dinner I was cleaning up the left side of her face as well as fixing her gown. I was worried that she would get irritated at me but I kept it as nonchalant as possible and I think she was happy to have me there fussing over her.

I helped her open the Get Well and Birthday cards I brought her from Mini Red and me. Mini Red included her school photo, which Aunt Dot promptly set up in front of her. Everyone who entered the room not only heard how she wanted to get back to the Rehab Hospital but was shown the photo of Mini Red. Aunt Dot would say "That's my Great Grand Niece" with a big smile.

At dinner time one of the sisters came over from the convent to get me so I could eat with them. I think Aunt Dot was relieved because she had asked at least a half dozen times if Sister Margaret had forgotten to come get me for dinner. There are seven Sisters living at this convent and I tell ya these women are amazing. We had such a nice time talking at dinner and everyone was curious as to my relationship to Aunt Dot and why it is there is no other family.

See Aunt Dot had one sister and that sister had one son. The sister's husband died at an early age and the son had a daughter (me) ten years later. Shortly after the daughter was born the son was killed in Vietnam. The sister lived until 1984, thus leaving no other family between Aunt Dot and myself. A side note here… My Mother remarried when I was eight and I was very lucky to get a great Father, who raised me, and siblings shortly thereafter.

After dinner I hung out with Aunt Dot some more. There wasn't much to talk about but just hanging out there watching the snow seemed to make her happy. After a goodnight sleep and a nice breakfast with the Sisters I headed back to see Aunt Dot before getting back on the road. I was hoping to see her Doctor but the snow had delayed everything in the area and this was probably the reason for the delay of the Doctor. It was so hard to say goodbye and walk out of there but at least she was looking better.

On the drive home I was thinking how rural we all consider Bethesda, Rockville, Gaithersburg but especially Germantown. Those aren't rural compared to Pennsylvania towns. Carbondale is twenty minutes north of Scranton and it's a huge deal for them to think of driving to Scranton. A good portion of the nurses lived within walking distance to the hospital so the thought of driving an hour to work, like I do, was just amazing to them.

As I drive past these towns I couldn't help but think of the people who built them. They were the coal miners and the families that supported them. My hometown is DC and has a history that is taught throughout the country. I can't help but wonder if they teach their history in school? It's been said that Pennsylvania towns are named using Indian words and names but some I really have to wonder about like Shamokin. Was it named after a Shamokin hot chick?

When I travel it's interesting how different yet similar other towns are to my town. The people in these towns seem so innocent but then you notice something that tells you otherwise. I saw a pick up truck driving towards Scranton that said Roc Hard Construction on the side. What the???