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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: It was a very long day

© Another Day in the Country

Many years ago, when I was doing a bit of caretaking for an older friend of mine, we coined a phrase to explain a lapse of memory: “Must be an 87!”

When Doc forgot something or started to tell some tale over again and we all knew the facts were slipping, I asked him whether he wanted to know or whether we should ignore it.

“Oh, I guess it just happens with age,” he said. “We’ll just call it an 87!”

Since I turned 65, I’ve been acutely aware that any lapse in performance or glitch in remembering something is usually attributed to one’s age.

When you’re younger, you can forget to turn off the oven and chuckle, but when you are retirement age, you think, “Oh, I’m slipping.

If someone has a fender-bender in his or her 40s, we say, “Sorry, that’s life.” But if it happens in your 70s, you wonder, “Should they be driving?”

Crazy things happen all through life, but they loom up in a different way when you are older and the clock is ticking.

On our journey back to Kansas last week, my daughter got us to the airport 2½ hours early.

Richard, who is a musician, was playing a gig in Mendocino for the weekend. So Jana, with her busy schedule and a fencing class on Saturdays, had to drop off fencing gear to her assistant coaches, run us to Sacramento Airport, and then get back in time to oversee the end of a fencing class tournament.

We were just lucky to get there, never mind the hour.

My grandson and I breezed through check-in and security in less than 45 minutes and made our way to near our gate.

“Want something from Starbucks?” I said to him.

He watched our luggage while I stood in line. Evidently, Starbucks was the hot attraction in that area of the airport, so there was a very long line.

I thought the line would move quite quickly, but it didn’t. First, there was the line for ordering what you wanted, and then there was a long wait until your name was called for pickup.

I stood and stood and stood. Twenty minutes or more went by, and I still wasn’t at the counter to order.

Don’t worry, I said to myself, We have a long wait, and there’s plenty of time.

By the time I’d picked up strawberry frappes, I was weary. I took them to where Dagfinnr was waiting, and we sat there enjoying their cool, sweet refreshment, leisurely. After all, we had plenty of time.

“Maybe we should go sit at our gate,” I said after a bit.

So we got up and moved our carryon stuff to Gate 14, where a sign listed all the planes leaving from this gate in the next few hours — including Denver, our stop before heading to Wichita.

As I often do, I pulled out my phone and started playing a word game.

Dagfinnr, looking over my shoulder, joined in, and we laughed as we finished the puzzles with increasing speed.

Time went by. I started to get restless and finally said, “I think I’m going to go check the board to see when our flight is due.”

You’ve probably guessed it. We were at the wrong gate. Our gate was across the concourse, Gate 15. Two planes were going to Denver, 45 minutes apart, and we’d missed ours while sitting at the wrong gate playing games.

A lot of announcements had been going on constantly, but neither of us had heard the call for a Denver flight boarding or paging two passengers missing with the last name of Wick.

I texted my daughter.

“We missed our flight to Denver,” I said, “and no, I don’t have Alzheimer’s. We were just at the wrong gate, and didn’t hear the flight called.”

What a mess!

“I’m sorry,” a lady at the counter said. “We can’t get you to Wichita until tomorrow. All flights are full.”

Should we stay overnight in Sacramento?

“Can you just get us to Denver?” I asked. “We can stay overnight there and then go on to Wichita the next day?”

I was imagining calling my cousin Keith and asking to sleep on his couch for one night.

“No, we can’t do that,” the attendant answered.

“What about Kansas City? Can we fly there instead of Wichita?”

She was checking all the connections and finally said, “Yes, you can go to Kansas City and you’ll arrive at midnight.”

I was imagining calling my cousin Glen and asking to sleep on his couch for one night.

Jess was planning to pick us up at Wichita at 11 p.m., and I doubted she’d be thrilled to be driving to Kansas City instead.

But she said she’d do it — “if you help me drive.”

Our journey ended at three in the morning,

“We were home — finally — guaranteeing a late start for all of us on another day in the country.

Last modified July 6, 2022

 

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