Cross Country

Last week while picking up my Aunt Lafayette?s granddaughter Tess at The Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, thoughts of other times at airports flooded my head. First came the memory of waiting, then waiting some more. Arriving way too early my husband and I sat around watching people. Of course I?m reading a book while occasionally glancing up when someone strolls by. The world is made up of all sorts of faces. How can millions of individuals look so different? The Man upstairs must have a bunch of different patterns on file.

Then, thoughts of other trips surface, an Alaskan cruise and land trip. Cancun, Mexico, and the island of Kauai. New York City. And my all time favorite, a road trip to Wheeling, West Virginia. As we watch the silver birds float onto the airport landing strip in Charlotte I again marvel at how these huge vessels get off the ground, and then stay in the air.

I have seen so many beautiful places. One very special time was when we were driving along the frozen tundra in Alaska. The tour guide told us that we were going to pull over and try to see Mount McKinley, or Denali as the Indians call it. We stepped down from the bus and stood staring in the direction the guide was pointing, and then all of a sudden the clouds parted and the top of the 20,320-foot mountain appeared. I felt so honored to have been invited to such a spectacular viewing.

If you ever get a chance, Alaska is the place to visit. I even saw the Northern Lights, some call them The Polar Lights or Aurora. Different hues of greens and blues swirled in the black sky. It was a mystical experience. We saw whales jumping, bald eagles soaring, and Caribou grazing, glaciers, totem poles and The Trans-Alaska Pipeline. I traveled by plane, train, cruise ship and bus. The thing I remember most vividly was a native Alaskan woman speaking to us one day as we stopped at a rest area. The lady, dressed in Indian attire stood on a knoll and told us the ways of her people. Then when she started sharing with us the death of her young son I was spellbound. She said her people believe that it takes two years for someone to get over the worst of their grief. She spoke of customs where ladies join together and make quilts as part of the grieving process. She told us that you always have someone with you sharing in your pain during this time.

Other things that I remember during my travels are, the turquoise blue waters of Mexico. Flying through the mountains as we descended to the island of Kauai, and my friends wedding there on the beach. Our jet boat adventure, sailing on a catamaran, and the huge waves! A trip to New York City with my daughter is one of my favorite memories. Why? Because it was our first–girls only– trip together, and her first plane ride. Flying into New York and seeing Lady Liberty welcoming us was surreal. Then last but not least was our trip up the Ohio River to Wheeling, West Virginia. You can travel lots of different ways, but you?ll never see the real world unless you get in a car and ride the back roads.

That?s why later this year we?re going to pack up our RV and set out for Yellowstone National Park, then to Glacier National Park and who knows where from there. If anyone of my readers has done this please let me know what else we need to see while visiting out west. Yes, I love to see the world, but I always dread being away from home and my daughter and granddaughter. But you can?t have it both ways. Looking out my back door I have a beautiful view of The Blue Ridge Mountains, but unless I load up and go there I won?t be able to smell the mountain laurel in full bloom, or experience the coolness of a valley stream.

When it was time to take Tess back to the airport tears filled my eyes as I watched the sad goodbyes. At the young age of twenty, Tess has already seen much of the world. She?s even been to Europe a few times. But I have to wonder if she realizes she has just taken one of the most precious trips she?ll ever take? The one to see her grandmother for what could very well be her last time. I too remember being young and carefree. I didn?t think much about death and the reality of it. Now as the year?s pile up death seems to be everywhere, grasping for first one loved one, then another.

There are no guarantee?s any of us will have another day, but when you have an incurable disease like Lou Gehrig?s you know your days are few in number. I can only hope Tess knows she can one day see her grandmother again, that the parting of bodies does not have to mean the end. For those of us who believe in a grand re-union, death is only a separation for a while. To be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord. That final cross-country trip should be the one we look forward to most of all!

1Corinthians 5: 6-9

6) ?Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7) ?(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8) ?We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9) ?Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

(A note from Sarah. I have tried every way possible to remove the smiley face from above and insert the number 8. It looks fine until I post, then it reverts to the smiley face. I guess God really likes that verse and is smiling.)

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