Heading out at seven a.m.

Two staff members boosted Dad out of his wheelchair and up into the SUV well before dawn Thursday.  We disassembled Dad's customized wheelchair and folded it, lifting it on top of all the stuff in the back to obscure any view in the driver's rear mirror.  Couldn't really sort stuff and discard it in front of Dad, as he was already plenty anxious, so we had way more than would fit in his new room.

Dad was not the only anxious one.  No one looks forward to 650 miles in the dead of winter, twelve hours, who knows how many Depends changes of an angry, demented, frail parent prone to coughing and choking.  We had lowered our expectations so far that the slightest good fortune felt like winning the lottery.  We had danced to learn there was no road construction south of Wichita, and that temps would stay above freezing the whole trip.

On my solo trips home after visiting Dad at the Care Center, York is the breakaway point, when I break out of the gravitational pull.  Take the ramp off I-80, wipe away tears, and head south on Highway 81.

This trip, York felt like the fail-safe point.  Beyond it we were fully committed.  No turning back.  Damn the torpedoes.  Full speed ahead.

The sunrise was a gorgeous emergence of rusty rose, then pure gold from the gray clouds.  In the back seat, I faced the sunrise.  In the front, Dad looked straight ahead or slightly to the west.  Rarely taking his eyes off the road, rarely speaking, Dad held his anxiety tight inside. It would be 500 miles before he flipped out and railed against being captive of his hairbrained daughters.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder

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