A few weeks ago, my husband and I set out for a vacation. This year it was my turn to do what I wanted. I wanted to visit my aunt. Upon arriving, I realized why the call of “home”, the home of my parents but never to me, called so strongly. It had been seven years this time. I had been visiting, if you can call it that about every two years, for one funeral or another. Now most everyone is gone.
Still I have one aunt that I see and cousins. There is still place and the land upon which the farm sits. There is still the call.
Early morning plane rides are pretty much par for the course when you live in Seattle and want to visit the midwest. We were lucky to find a low cost flight out that included a nonstop flight from Seattle to O’Hare where we would rent a car. My family was from Racine and surrounding areas outside Milwaukee and my husband’s family is from outside Cincinnati, though his father is buried in Indianapolis. We had a fair amount of driving to do.
Getting to the airport early in the morning isn’t a problem. Seattle rush hour starts somewhat later than 5 AM and we made good time to the airport. My husband forgot and packed his shaving cream in his carry on and lost that. Ah well. Shaving cream is easy to find.
We got on the plane. I got to sit next to a lovely woman in a sari. We had barely nodded to each other when the pilot came on to tell us our navigation system was out. They let us sit for 15 suspenseful minutes waiting and wondering what this meant for us. Apparently there was no part to be found at Sea-Tac airport so they let us off the plane, carrying all our luggage with us. We would wait inside the airport for the part to arrive, perhaps two hours.
The last time I had flight delays, I ran around the airport finding a phone card so I could keep my aunt informed of any updates. This time I used my cell phone. It seems that whenever I fly for pleasure to the midwest there is something to keep us waiting. It is only when I fly for funerals that the flight is easy–almost pleasant. Perhaps the universe wants to make up to me that there is another loss in my life. I was even upgraded to first class when my uncle died because the other seats were taken.
We waited around the airport, watching people get out their cell phones. Business travelers on the flight were frantically searching for a way to get to Chicago earlier than our plane delay would get them their. People wandered off looking around for what to do. Several times I thought I heard Chicago. Upon investigation there was another flight to Chicago leaving a few hours after ours was to have left.
Our plane commenced boarding about the time theirs finished. However, the advantage this time was that my friend in the Sari had moved seats. My husband and I had three seats to ourselves. It seemed that our flight was no longer completely full but had lost many of it’s passengers. It was far more comfortable for the delay. It was unfortunate that we would arrive in Chicago in time for rush hour, but not horrible. After all, O’Hare is on the north side.
It is easy to arrive in Chicago. We were warned that we had landed a long way from the terminal. We taxied. And taxied. And taxied some more. When I thought there was no further place to go, we continued taxing to the terminal. I recalled the night I flew into O’Hare with my father when another Aunt had died. He had wanted to fly into O’Hare and rent a car. We could borrow a car from family if we went to Mitchell Field where they would pick us up. I scheduled us into Mitchell. As we taxied the long way out to our runway my father looked over and said, “Maybe we are driving to Milwaukee?”
My father is long gone and there have been many flights since. I have seen that the landing space over Mitchell Field goes out over Lake Michigan. Prior to my father’s death I had always landed late at night and never seen such a thing. I have since walked through the small museum of flight at Mitchell and wondered how to send in my father’s information. I have had Easter dinner with his family. I have walked across the graves of people I knew well and who were cornerstones in my life.
The farm used to be the place we all gathered. Now most await me at West Lawn Cemetery. I still go by the farm. There is something in my blood that draws me. My cousins understand. I considered calling my cousin to tell her if she got a call about strangers on the property it was just me but I avoided that duty. It would make the lack of people there too real. Instead I led my husband out, nearly unerringly to the farm. We walked around and I pointed out the places I remembered best. Sandi said she knew I’d be out there and she hadn’t worried.
Arriving, finally in Chicago we got our rental car. The GPS works, although Garmin’s idea of the direct route and mine are definitely on two different wave lengths. Apparently Garmin hates the Interstate and state routes as we stayed on farm roads that took us twice as long to get to my Aunt’s house. No matter. Dennis liked the scenery.
There was something lovely about the scenery in our midwest tour and something of the wanderer through the countryside that time. I was looking forward to family, to meeting Dennis’ family and most of all to meeting the people behind the cats that I knew online.