My Adventurous Visit to Virginia

ImageI’d seen a recent picture of my first-born son, in which he didn’t look well, so I decided to go last Thursday to Virginia to visit him and see for myself. It was a wonderful adventure.

I stopped in Ashburn to spend some time and overnight with my granddaughter, Jamie, and family. She even left her high-powered job to be home—in her driveway—waiting for my arrival. We had one-on-one time before Mike brought the kids home and then I had some fun time with Bradley, 3, and Austin, 16 months. Even though the house is filled with all kinds of toys, they each were thrilled with my little Matchbox truck and ball I’d brought for them.

Mike was excited to share that, after receiving an impressive award from work, he was approached by another company with some talk about a possible promotion to a higher level position there. It was a happy time. I offered to read a book to Bradley, and he chose a favorite of his:  Fractions. Sheez, by the time this kid is 5, I won’t be able to communicate with him.

Friday, I was alone at the house, so busied myself changing my bed and picking up their kitchen. Early afternoon, I kept hearing a cricket chirping every few minutes. It was coming from the family room, adjacent to the kitchen. Not a lover of critters in the house, I timidly checked around the area I thought the sounds were coming from, but there was no sign of a cricket. Also, every little while, a musical chord would play, almost like a telephone ring. But there was no telephone.

I was beginning to get freaked out. Fortunately, my daughter-in-law called to firm up plans for that evening, and she told me that the cricket sounds came from a puzzle. When the animal piece is not in place, the sound of that species keeps playing. The musical chord, she said, comes from a book.

Okay, I’m acclimating.

That night, Jack and Barb (son and his wife) came to pick up the kids for the week (Jamie and Mike going to Sweden for Mike’s Standards Conference) and me. I rode with Jack and the kids and Barb followed in my car, this arrangement to save me additional hours of driving. When we arrived in their Orange home, the poor little guys were tired, although very happy to be with their Gramma and Grampa. But getting them to sleep was a challenge I haven’t faced in many years. Bradley finally gave up the ghost around 9:30, but little Austin kept Barb up a good share of the night.

Saturday brought a beautiful sunny day, mid- to upper-70s. Barb and I took the boys out for a walk. Well, she and I walked. Bradley rode his bike and I pushed Austin in a stroller. Later, I was reading on the porch when I heard Jack’s voice.

“This is the automatic choke…” an engine starts up… “I usually let it warm up a little.” Then the vehicle takes off. It’s a big ATV. Jack is driving it, with Bradley sharing the seat right in front of him. I had to chuckle, knowing that 3-year-old Bradley would understand perfectly “automatic choke” and “warm up.” After that ride, they had the same riding arrangement as Jack mowed the lawn with his monster mower.

Barb and Jack own a 30-foot-wide extension from their yard down to the river, so Jack took me down to see how he’s preparing the land for a dock for his boat. He’s done an amazing amount of down-and-dirty hard work making a clearing and a culvert. The walk down the hill wasn’t kind to my old knees, but coming back up was a little easier.

That afternoon, Jack, Bradley and I went to Laura, their other daughter, and Chris’ house in Mineral, on Lake Anna. I got to see the twins, Wyatt and Riley, 4 now, and the three boys had a great time together. We had a delightful boat ride on their new Sea-Doo jet boat and floated a while in the warm sun. There again, there was a long, steep hill to maneuver, but I’m still walking. And I got to see Wyatt and Riley and they became acquainted with me once again.

Getting Bradley and Austin to sleep Saturday night was much easier. Austin still had some sleep issues—a nasty cold/cough doesn’t help the poor honey—but the night was a quiet one. At least I slept like a log!

Sunday gave us an early start, which was just what I wanted for my 9-hour drive home. We had breakfast and I finished packing after my shower. I started my journey around 9:00 a.m. It took me most of the day to realize that I was super-tired and thus dysfunctional. I did more U-ies that day than I’ve done in my whole life. I kept missing route turns/changes, mis-read directions, and almost pulled in front of a speeding truck at one intersection. Finally, I pulled off the road far more east on I-80 than I had a right to be (Harmony Lake, PA), and stayed overnight in a Comfort Inn. Very nice there, by the way.

Monday, I’d had a good night’s sleep and began the drive around 6:00 a.m. This time, I had no problem following routes or directions or staying awake. The recurring thoughts that cheered me along the way were having seen Jack look well and hearty and remembering Bradley as he made his final turn in bed Sunday night, whispering, “I wuv you, Gweat Gwamma.”