Wednesday, October 27 -- TO -- Monday, November 8, 2010 (Our Trip Home)

Our day started out well as we prepared to leave for the airport. Everything was going smoothly...we got the trailer packed up and backed in to the storage area; levelled off so we could leave the fridge running on propane; and we didn’t even have to unhitch from the truck because the space was long enough to accommodate it. It was so hot and humid—89 degrees with the humidex making it feel like 103 degrees—making changing into jeans/long pants very difficult! Luckily we were soon into an air conditioned car and on our way to the airport.

We arrived at the airport extra early, giving ourselves lots of time to drop off the rental car and find our way to the Delta check-in counter, get through security and find our gate. The Savannah Airport is a bright, modern facility and fairly small making it easy to find our way. We were enjoying a leisurely lunch when an email from our good friends Rob and Nancy alerted us to the storm that was covering Atlanta through to Minneapolis...of course, those were our stops enroute to Vancouver. It was a beautiful sunny day in Savannah...we had no idea what was in store for us for the rest of the day!

Sure enough, severe weather (with around 24 tornados in the storm system) had shut down the Atlanta airport delaying flights. There were 2 flights scheduled to leave before ours. One had boarded and was ready to leave when news that the Atlanta airport had been closed due to lightening, so everyone had to de-board the plane...this happened a couple of times. How frustrating for the passengers.

Our flight was scheduled to leave Savannah at 3:30 p.m. We finally left at about 6:30 p.m. Landing in Atlanta was interesting...the runway was lined with about a dozen fire trucks and emergency vehicles, all with lights flashing! Guess they just wanted to be prepared...yikes!

The Atlanta airport was just jammed packed with travellers waiting for flights. We saw firsthand what havoc bad weather can cause in the scheduling of hundreds of flights that come and go out of an airport. After changing departure gates for our flight to Minneapolis twice—from concourse A to B and back (which involved a subway train ride)—we finally made it into the air arriving in Minneapolis very late. Of course, we had missed our connecting flight to Vancouver. After finding a hotel and waiting for the shuttle to pick us up, we were in bed at the Airport Super 8 Hotel by 2:30 a.m. (with no luggage).

With less than 3 hours of sleep, we were up and back at the airport in time for our 9:20 flight to Vancouver. Steve said this was the first time he had rented a room by the hour! All went smoothly and we landed in Vancouver at 11:00 a.m. local time almost twelve hours late. We were through Canada Customs in no time using the new automated kiosks and on the skytrain heading downtown to the Pan Pacific. We had the afternoon to rest and get ready for my Retirement Gala that night.
This is the view from our room on the 18th floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel...

I really had mixed feelings about this trip...I was very sad going home to what would eventually be my Mom’s funeral but at the same time so very happy to be able to attend my retirement celebration. Steve felt that it was Mom’s final gift to me for looking after her and Dad by picking this time so close to my retirement gala to go....

There would be very special people attending the event...Lynn, Gwen and Delcie whom I had worked with for over 30 years also retired this year and were going to be there as was Laurie, another member of the HR team. They had no idea that I was going to be there...a well kept secret by the organizers...thank you, Sue and John!! And surprised they were!!!

They even had a picture of me...held up by a stick...just so that I could be there with them! And sent me an email saying they were thinking of me and that I was there with them. Thank you, ladies! You guys are awesome! So what a great surprise when they walked into the banquet room and there I was! Of course, I waited on pins and needles while they were up in Gwen’s room having a drink and taking pictures...with me on a stick!
Gwen, Laurie, Lynn, Delcie and me
It was absolutely an awesome evening! A lovely reception, presentations to the retirees and 25 year employees and a delicious steak dinner....and way too much wine! I don’t know what time it was but there were a bunch of us up in Gwen and (husband) Steve’s room when I said to my Steve...time to go.

I woke up the next morning feeling much, much better than I deserved to! After breakfast, we checked out and piled into Lynn’s car...Steve and I were catching a ride over to the island with Lynn and Laurie. We made a stop at IKEA and then were right on time for 1:00 p.m. ferry.

Lynn dropped us off at Saanich Peninsula Hospital...where Mom had been in the Extended Care Unit for some time. As we walked into the “Garden Room” (palliative care), I was absolute dumbfounded with what I saw. Was this really my Mother? If it had not been for my brother, Dennis, being in the room when we arrived, I would not have recognized her! In the 11 days since being moved into the palliative care room, she had deteriorated beyond recognition...but yet she continued to hang on. My brother, Don, had been with her 24/7 for 9 days until he had to return to work in Vancouver and another brother, Dennis and his wife Suzanne had taken over her bedside vigil. It was another agonizing 4 days as we watched her continue to deteriorate. She had most of her family...including some grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit her during this time. She finally gave in and passed away Monday night, November 1st ...we received the phone call at 10:45 p.m. She had amazed the doctors and nurses by lasting 15 days with no food or water. We all feel that Dad (Scotty) refused to beam her up until November 1st so that her pension would continue for the entire month!

Dennis, Suzanne, Steve and I had a busy Tuesday. We had an appointment at First Memorial at 1:00 but when arranging that, I had asked if by chance, we could book the service for the next day. It was set for 2:00 p.m. The rest of the morning was spent picking up boxes of chocolates and thank you cards for the staff and volunteers at the hospital and ordering food trays for the gathering we were having at my brother, Dwight and Helen’s house after the service. There are 2 very special people that volunteer at the ECU. Bruce and his wife sit with patients in palliative care, giving family members time away. We really wanted to acknowledge and thank them so very much for the time they spent with Mom.

All went very smoothly at the funeral home and after all the paperwork was complete, we also managed to meet with the clergy who would be officiating at the service. By the time we were finished, it was after 3:00 p.m. and we were hungry...and exhausted. After stopping for a quick bite, we headed home to relax for the rest of the day.

It was a small lovely service followed by a family gathering at Dwight and Helen’s. It was great having all of the family together...too bad it could not have been under better circumstances. But it is all good...Mom is now with Dad forever...

It was good being home for a visit but we were anxious to get back to our other “home” and carry on with our travels. We had had a good visit with all our families and good friends.

We headed back over to Vancouver Sunday afternoon on the 1:00 ferry. After an adventure by taking the city bus to the Bridgeport Skytrain Station, the Canada Line to the airport and then the shuttle, we arrived at the Accent Inn. Our flight left Vancouver on time Monday morning and after stops in Seattle and Atlanta, we arrived in Savannah at 11:46 p.m. local time. All went smoothly until we went to pick up our rental car. Enterprise was closed but had told us to pick it up at the Alamo/National stand. When we arrived there, they had no knowledge of our reserved car...and they had no car available. Not a good way to end the day...but all worked out...Hertz had a car and they would allow us to drop it off in Beaufort, SC. We were home at the Point South KOA to our truck and 5th wheel by just after 1:00 a.m. All was well there...yay!

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