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Lighten Up: Geriatric Road Trip
7/23/2014 3:51:41 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

There is a story everywhere and in everything. After several serious articles on violence among the youths, I decided it was time to lighten things up a bit.

I don’t know who coined the phrase “laugher is good for the soul” but after my road trip last weekend to Atlantic City to attend a family Memorial Service, I am inclined to agree. It’s been awhile since I did a road trip with several of my siblings and in-laws but it just might be my last. Oh, how the years fly by.

Back in the day, we looked forward to our road trips together. Everyone was in good health. We would tune into one of those oldies and goodies radio station and sing along at the top of our lungs. Although, no one in the car could sing, it didn’t matter but twenty years later it does. As you age, you are less tolerable to noise and that is pretty much what we made, we made noise and lots of it. You couldn’t tell soprano from alto or tenor from bass. We sounded more light a pack of coyotes growling at the moon. Although no one could carry a tune in a bucket, it was amazing how much of the songs and artists they remembered. We even played “Name it and Claim it”. It wasn’t that difficult remembering the old artists because music was music back in the day. Today, artists come and go. They may pump out one hit song that makes the charts and they are soon forgotten unlike Motown artists.

We traveled in an Expedition Excursion that seats eight with lots of room for luggage. Since it was six of us making a three day trip, we were told to pack light. When you are older, packing light becomes relative. What was so humorous is what each person packed and what they brought along. Each person packed jackets, brought along blankets, prescription and over the counter medications, coolers packed with drinks and water and bags of food. It looked more like we were preparing for a hurricane than a road trip. One even brought along a ring seat for comfort. I thought the thing was one of those neck pillars but larger since the person was larger. Now, y’all know, a few years ago we were just too proud to be caught dead with a ring seat.

We were scheduled to leave promptly at 9:00 PM but by the time everyone loaded up we got started on our trip promptly at 9:40 PM. It took forty minutes just to pack the car.

Finally, we were off. So, I am sitting next to my sister and she said can you believe this. I replied, what? She had a little black pouch in her hands and I thought it was a camera bag. She said years ago when she planned for a trip she made sure she picked up a teddy or a nice nightie. She said guess what’s in this bag. Since it wasn’t a camera, I did not have a clue. It was a blood pressure cup. I said what the heck you need that for. She said she needed it for her husband who had recently had heart surgery. Well, I guess I could excuse her for that but I am sure she won’t be wearing anymore teddies anytime soon. Hubby already has a bad heart and the sight would be just too much.

Then, it was the problem keeping up with canes. We had three persons needing walking canes and only two brought canes. Of course no one wanted to own up to using a cane. One minute someone needed a cane and the next minute it was someone else so they just switched off back and forth. You would have to have seen it to believe it.

Here is where things really got humorous. We pulled into a rest stop for a restroom and stretch your legs break. OMG! It was then that I wanted to distant myself from the group. If you could have seen how they got out of the car, it was so funny. Two were backing out of the back while two rolled out of the front. I am seated on the third row with my negligee sister, and we are watching this road show. Here is how it played out. First they had to think about getting out the car; next, they turned around and placed their feet near the door; next, they slid down onto the pavement; next, they just stood there looking at each other and finally, it was off to the restroom wobbling and taking baby steps.

As my sister and I got out, she backed to the left and I backed to the right. We had the most junk in the trunk so you can imagine all of that junk exiting at once. Every one of the travelers had leg or hip problems with one exception, me. At least four had stomach issues. Everyone had prescriptions and over the counter pills. High heels were replaced with sandals. Only one person was bold enough to wear shorts. And, even those legs looked like they should have been on antiques.

As we got closer and closer to home, talks turned to our Vegas trip planned for 2016. We are planning on renting a Winnebago, traveling across country and stopping to take in the wonders of America. We won’t be in a hurry! Well, we couldn’t hurry even if we wanted to, not my geriatric family. Although my family is getting older, we are a close knit family and still enjoy taking trips together.

Perhaps, it would be easier to fly the next time around but it would take the fun out of our group trips. It’s not that bad getting old, it’s just inconvenient.

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