Postponed out of love
As you read this, Kathy and I should be 1,500 miles away. But we’re not. We’re sitting in our living room.
Last summer we decided to drive to Fort Myers Beach, Florida, in March 2020 to spend a week at the timeshare beach condo Kathy owns with her brother and other relatives. It had been the property of her parents, and descended to their children when they passed.
We also told friends in southern Florida, South Carolina, and our son in Raleigh, North Carolina, that we were going to sponge off them for a few days before and after the beach condo week.
We picked up travel guides from AAA in recent months, and notified organizations to which we belong that we would be absent for three weeks, from March 17 until April 7. We periodically checked the weather situation in southwest Florida — as of this writing it’s 85 degrees and partly cloudy.
I’m typing this column on Saturday, March 14, sitting on our couch. It’s overcast and snowing lightly in Jefferson, with a temperature of 30. Not what we planned.
With both of us in our mid-70s, we are proud members of the Frail Elderly Caucus. With the coronavirus pandemic at large in the United States, our kids firmly opposed our trip.
At first we assured them we would be watchful on the road and on the beach. We had stocked plenty of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers, and would even buy groceries along the way to avoid eating at restaurants.
They weren’t convinced.
Son Dan was the first to call. He was adamant. We might find ourselves sick three days from home, and how would we manage that? He and his siblings and siblings-in-law would worry about us for three weeks, and did we really want to put them through that?
He reminded us that Kathy’s mother had died suddenly on her final visit to the condo.
Then son Matthew called from Raleigh. He said it was up to us, and he didn’t put overt pressure on us, but he urged us to do the right thing.
Then son David came for dinner, and during the homemade soup he hoped we would reconsider our trip.
Then daughter Molly texted Kathy while Dave was still here: “I’ve been tasked with telling you not to go on your trip, and trust you’ll make the best decision for the two of you.”
Then daughter-in-law Ann called to suggest gently that we shouldn’t go.
And then granddaughter Laura called from Arizona State University to urge us not to go.
And then granddaughter Katie texted from the Chicago Institute of Art: “I’m sure you’re aware of everything going on with the virus. ... I just want you and Papa Rick to stay healthy and safe with everything going on.”
After all that, I anticipated similar messages from Dan and Ann’s Labrador retrievers Copper and Nike. No such luck, but they don’t spell very well anyway.
When your offspring guilt you like that, you really don’t have a choice.
We gave up, and put out the word we were canceling the trip.
We hope to resurrect it (except for Florida) in late spring or thereabouts, if the pandemic has subsided. The weather will be much better here by then, but we’d like to see the folks we had planned to visit on the March-April sojourn. We may add a side trip to Philadelphia and Boston to visit other good friends and relatives.
We’re disappointed we aren’t on the road now.
But it’s heartwarming to feel the love from our young’uns. We hope they know our decision to cancel stems from our love for them.
That’s more important than a walk on the beach.