(TRAVEL) The Carry-on Bag

There have been many times that Mom’s luggage has been lost (one time for five days), and she has had to make do with the few things she happened to have with her. But the catalyst that finally prompted Mom to rethink her carry-on bag came in an unexpected way.

Believing that they were on a non-stop flight to their destination, Mom and Dad had minimal supplies with them, having checked the majority of their luggage.  However, things did not go as planned.  Due to extremely bad weather, they were diverted to a nearby airport where they had to stay the night.  Fortunately, it was only one night, but even having to wear ALL the same clothes the next day, and heaven forbid, no makeup for Mom, she quickly started making a list of things she would always keep with her in her future travels.

Here are some of the things Mom now carries with her:

Blow-up Pillow.  You never know when you might want to snag a little nap, and the pillow makes it much easier than battling with the bobbing head syndrome.

Cards and/or Games.  Mom keeps a baggie filled with travel games.  Even if traveling alone, a fun game can make the time go much faster if stuck waiting for a delayed plane, or on a long flight.  (Mom does need to learn to shuffle cards more quietly, however, to avoid getting dirty looks from tired passengers!).

Reading Material.  Sometimes Mom will take a paperback book that she intends to give away when through reading, but mostly she makes sure her Kindle is charged.

Travel Journal.  Mom not only records memories and activities, but she also keeps a record of her purchases.  That way she not only knows where she bought various souvenirs, but she also has a convenient log to refer to when filling out her customs forms.

Headset/Earplugs.  Mom usually takes a high-quality noise-canceling headset with her so that she can block out irritating noises around her.  She also makes sure that she has extra batteries for the headset.

First Aid Kit.  Just a small kit with the absolute basics (like band aids) is handy to have with you.

Basic Toiletry Kit.  Just the basics here…toothbrush and paste, floss, cleansing cloths, and a little makeup.

Spare Clothes.  Mom takes a spare blouse, and sometimes pants, but always takes spare undergarments.  That way, even if she is stuck overnight somewhere, she can feel fresh and clean the next morning.

Mini-Umbrella.  Mom doesn’t like to get her hair wet, so she always makes sure she’s prepared for rainy weather.

Walkie-Talkies.  Mom and Dad always take these with them and then when they separate for whatever reason, they can easily communicate with each other without worrying about expensive cell charges when they are out of country.

Food.  Mom likes to buy a small pre-packaged lunch, which is sealed and has liquids less than 3 ounces.  That way if she is unable to buy food, or doesn’t like the food the airplane is serving, she’s got a backup.






Restaurant Misbehaving

Mom has a long history of having trouble and causing trouble in restaurants.  She often embarrassed my sister and me when we were younger, but Dad has always seemed resigned to the fact that Mom may cause a scene.  I guess he’s had a long time to get used to her.  When they were in high school (yes, they were high school sweethearts!), having lunch together, Mom finished her chocolate shake, sucked the straw dry and then thought it would be fun to blow through the straw in Dad’s face.  Apparently she hadn’t done a very good job of cleaning out the straw, because she sprayed chocolate milkshake all over Dad’s face and the front of his shirt.  At least he knew early on what he was getting into when he married her!

For Mom to get out of a restaurants without a stain on her “shelf” (aka: large bosom), is a small miracle in itself.  My kids love to recall the time she had a large scoop of ice cream for dessert…chocolate, of course.  She stabbed her spoon into it to taste her first bite.  She should have gently scraped off a bite instead of stabbing, because the thrust of the stab merely caused the entire sphere of ice cream to pummel into her lap.  She casually remarked, “Oops!” and picked up the scoop of chocolate and put it back in her bowl.  She seemed so nonchalant about the whole thing that the kids were stunned into silence for a moment, and then all burst out laughing.  Mom just shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “No big deal.  Happens all the time!”

I can’t even count the times that Mom has spilled, tripped, choked, fallen into an uncontrollable laughing or coughing fit, and started food fights.  Yes, even nice restaurants are not off-limits to Mom if she gets the urge to throw a piece of food or ice at someone (frequently me, I might add).  Sometimes I am shocked at her behavior, but mostly I just try to pretend I don’t know her.

Sometimes looking the other way or ignoring her isn’t enough, and more drastic measures are called for.  For example, Mom, Dad, Kari and I were eating in a nice family restaurant.  We were near the end of the meal, and all had gone reasonably well, without incident.  Then someone said something that sent  Mom into a giggling fit.  I have no idea what was so funny to her, but often no one knows what she finds so hilarious that she laughs until she cries and can’t breathe.  Well, this particular time, Mom had a bite of food in her mouth at the moment that she started laughing.  Her shoulders jiggled in silent mirth, her face turned red, and the tears started to roll down her cheeks.

Kari and I stole glances around the restaurant to see if her behavior was observed by anyone.  So far so good.  But then her laughing turned into silent coughs.  We could see that she was coughing because she no longer bounced up and down, but now lurched her head back and forth.  She sort of looked like someone dry heaving, or about to throw up.  With horror, I realized that she not only looked that way, but she was actually going to heave!  Now, if anyone else were having this kind of trouble at a dinner table, I would be concerned and offer my help.  But Mom did this type of thing often, and I wasn’t worried about her well-being.  I knew she would be fine once she stopped laughing.

And then the inconceivable happened….Mom could no longer control her coughing, or her very sensitive gag reflex, and she actually threw up on her plate.  I think my eyes may have really bugged out, but it didn’t take longer than two seconds to know what I needed to do.  Get out of there!  Kari had the same reaction and the two of us were up and out of our chairs and out the front door as quickly as we could move.  Safely distanced from the scene Mom caused in the restaurant, we peered through the windows to see what would happen.  Dear old Dad, so accustomed to Mom and her zany antics, patiently stayed with her, helped clean up the mess, and then paid the bill so Mom could leave, too.

Even as Mom walked through the exit, she was desperately trying not to laugh.

“Are you going to barf again?” I asked incredulously.

That was more than she could handle and the laugh she had been trying to contain burst from her like an explosion.  Barely able to form words, she managed to say, “You and Kari sure got out of there quickly!”  So overcome by the hilarity of the situation, Mom was scarcely able to stand up and it was a small miracle that we made it to the car without any further embarrassment.

Poor Mom.  We just can’t take her anywhere!

Phil Fell

Being sleep-deprived has the same effect on my mom as a heavy dose of alcohol has on other people.  And she is tired a lot!

When she is tired, she gets the giggles. I’m not just talking about polite, little chuckle-type giggles.  Her face turns red, her whole body shakes, and if she’s really, really tired, she might even snort.  It only takes a word or two to start her off, and once she gets started, she may not quit shaking and snorting for half an hour.  And then, just when she is catching her breath, I like to say the trigger word again and she starts all over.  I have to admit, it is pretty amusing….and contagious.  It’s really hard not to laugh with her (or at her) when she is busting up.

Not being able to control her giggling has gotten her into trouble before.  For instance, when I was a young girl, we were visiting with an elderly great-aunt.  As many elderly relatives love to do, she busied herself with relaying all of the latest family gossip, centered mostly on the state of health of all the different relatives that I had never even heard of.

We were all tired from a long drive, but Mom was especially tired.  And that meant she was punchy.  This sweet old lady began telling the tragic story of the death of some cousin named Phil.  Apparently, his death was the result of a bad fall he took.  When dear Auntie said, “Phil fell,” the alliteration struck sleepy Mom’s funny bone.  She tried to hold back her giggles, but that just made it worse.  She sat there shaking; face turning red, and tears threatening to fall, as our aunt looked on horrified that Mom thought it was funny that Phil fell.  Mom actually felt bad that Phil had fallen.  It was just the words that she found funny.  But once the giggle fit had started, there was no turning it off.

The more the aunt disapproved, the harder Mom laughed.  Just thinking about the situation—the wrong impression the aunt had, knowing that no one knew why she was laughing– made everything even funnier to sleep-drunk Mom.  Later, after she finally got control over herself, Mom was able to explain everything to her aunt.  Accustomed to Mom’s quirkiness, she quickly forgave and forgot.  But Mom never forgot. In fact, to this day, nearly 40 years later, all we have to do is say, “Phil fell” and Mom will instantly start cracking up.