Monday, December 15, 2014

embracing an attitude of gratitude

What I didn't mention in my first post about our recent trip to the eastern Caribbean, is that we missed our flight on the way to Miami.  Even though we left our house at 3:00, the airport is only 30 minutes away, and our flight wasn't leaving until 6:30 ... we missed our plane.   Here's what happened...

We left the house at exactly 3:00 PM.  There was virtually no traffic on the road and by 3:20 PM, we were less than three miles away from Ronald Reagan National Airport. It was expected that we would be parked and standing in security by 3:35 PM and be sitting at our gate by no later than 4:00 PM, a whole 2.5 hours before we were scheduled to depart.  However, as we approached the exit, traffic slowed and then came to a halt.


For the next three hours, we moved less than 500 feet.  We would learn that there was a serious automobile accident on the 14th Street Bridge in to Washington, DC and all four lanes of traffic were stopped.  Stopped to the point that we turned off the ignition of our vehicle, and sat waiting, while watching planes take off and fly over our heads.


While we were sitting in gridlock on 395, I struck up a conversation with the woman in the car next to us.  We had started to move a tiny bit, and she tried to cut in to our lane to the point that she nearly hit the passenger door.   I rolled down my window to tell her, "PLEASE! We are trying to get to the airport before we miss our second flight!" and she rolled down her window to tell me that she was trying desperately to get home because she was returning from the funeral of her daughter and granddaughter, who had perished in a house fire earlier in the week.  The house caught on fire and the father was able to rescue one child and raced back in to help his wife and daughter, but he fell off a ladder and was unable to get back inside.

We tried to let her go first because we were broken for her loss.  But she insisted we go first because she didn't want us to miss our next flight.   If only we really knew what was happening in the world of people around us, I wonder how much more compassion we would have?  I suspect our hearts would grow at least three sizes each day.    

When we arrived at the airport, we were placed on standby along with several other passengers (that arrived after us) and had also missed their previous flight because of the traffic gridlock on I-395.

Five minutes before the plane was scheduled to push back, we were called to the gate and told that they had just enough seats for us.  But instead of the nice row of six seats - we were spaced all over the plane.  William was on row 8; Henry on row 14;  Charlie on row 18; Carolyn on row 22; me on row 27; and Elizabeth on row 34.


I was so prepared with coloring books and crayons to keep the kids entertained for the three hour flight, but because of the hasty nature of us boarding the plane and taking our seats, I didn't have the ability to give the kids any of the supplies that I'd packed.  Earlier in the day, this might have been a problem for me, but the woman from the freeway was still on my mind, and so we were feeling nothing but gratitude that we were together as a family, and embarking on a wonderful trip.

Carolyn and Elizabeth wound up being seated between Korean men that didn't speak a word of English. William had a book on Jamestown that kept him entertained, and Henry immediately picked up the menu from his seat back pocket and giddily began pondering aloud what he'd have to eat for the duration of the three hour flight?



For all the traveling that Charlie and I do, it's remarkable that the only time we have significant travel issues is when our family travels together.  This past April when we flew down to Florida for Easter, we were on our plane, racing down the runway for lift off, when the wheels touched back down, the pilot slammed on the brakes and banked a u-turn back to the gate.

I'd never had that happen before and was wondering what exactly had happened, when the pilot came on over the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, as you can see we are heading back to the gate. As we were taking off, an alarm sounded that indicated our door was not shut properly and the last thing we want to do is have the door fly open when we're 37,000 feet up.  Am I right?!"


Yes sir, you are right about that.  I'd much prefer that the airplane door remain firmly closed when we're seven miles off the ground.  I'm grateful for your attention to detail.

By the time the door was properly closed and secured, and we returned to the line-up, we were number 14 in queue for take-off.  Being so far back in line, meant that we landed later than expected and we missed our connection from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale.

We had to fly standby, then, too.   Here are the children, settling in and waiting for a flight that could accommodate us all.  This was a particularly long wait since there are not usually an abundance of empty seats on planes flying south to Florida for Spring Break.


What a good experience for my fledgling travelers, and wonderful opportunity for Charlie and I to demonstrate kindness and patience!


When we finally boarded our plane, we were immensely grateful that we caught a connection and arrived safely.  Albeit six hours later than we expected.

We were also grateful for our sense of humor.

When you pack for a trip, never forget to pack your ability to chill-out and laugh.


Today, my doctor called me to tell me that my blood work came back.  In addition to my auto-immune disease flare up (which I'd suspected), I also tested positive for parvovirus, which is what caused my severe arthritic conditions and inability to move for several days last week.

The first thought that sprung to my mind, is the "parvo" that dogs contract, but this is apparently a totally different virus that affects humans.   When I told Charlie the news I said, "See, I told you I was sick as a dog!"   (Get it?!)

According to the doctor, the symptoms can last for a few days, to a few weeks. But I've found SUPPORT FORUMS for people who have suffered from parvo for years.  Alas, over the past few days, I am finally feeling better and am extremely optimistic that I will not be one of the victims that suffers from this crippling viral infection for the next decade.

Sincere gratitude for my health, because it is awful to be sick

Last but not least, I've got gratitude for the amazing trip that we shared with my amazing mother and the awesome memories made.  Gratitude that my children had the courage to stand on the main stage and participate in a "Talent Show", the last night at sea.   Elizabeth, hula-hooping...


And Henry wow-ing the large audience in to fits of laughter with his "karate" moves.


Henry showing "the crane"...


Daniel San (from Karate kid) showing "the crane" ...

(Henry's was better.)


Gratitude for beautiful sunsets over the ocean.



And gratitude for the onboard treadmill that I used once during the seven-day cruise...


That helped burn off approximately 1/1,000,000 of the calories consumed.