Traveling to Memphis

Yesterday we left for what I expect to be our last Christmas visit to our daughter Jesse’s house in Memphis. As with our trip to Texas in November, I wasn’t sure that we would be able to make it. About two weeks ago, I felt sure enough to make our lodging  reservations. This will be only the second time we have not stayed with her and her family. At this stage of Kate’s illness, I felt it would be better to have the privacy afforded by staying in a hotel. She can sleep as late as she wants, and we won’t have to worry about any of the mess she makes in the bathroom.

Given how late she has been sleeping, I thought I would let her sleep until 11:30, grab a quick bite to eat, and hit the road between 1:00 and 1:30. As it turned out, she woke up about 10:30. That gave us time to have lunch at the Bluefish Grill, our regular Saturday lunch place.

On several occasions, we have stopped in Nashville to have lunch with friends or visit with our friend Ellen Seacrest. She’s our friend who had a stroke while visiting her daughter in Nashville three years ago this past August. We stopped for a nice visit with her. Earlier in the week, we had seen Louise, the woman who replaced her as choir director at her church in Knoxville. When I mentioned that we were going to see her, she asked if we could take something with us. Yesterday morning she brought a gift bag with a Christmas CD, an assortment of homemade cookies, and a card with greetings and signatures of Ellen’s choir members. That made this visit very special.

Ellen had directed the choir almost forty years and contributed in many other ways to the church. She was well-known and loved. The distance has kept all of her Knoxville friends from visiting her. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only ones who have visited her more than once. Thus, Ellen was quite moved to be remembered in this way. I asked Ellen if she would like to talk with Louise. She was excited when I mentioned it. I called, and Louise answered on the first ring. That began a 10-minute phone call that was certainly the highlight of Ellen’s day. I am so glad I told Louise we were making this visit. After Christmas, I think I will talk with Ellen’s daughter and see how she would feel if we brought one or two of her closest church friends with us on a future visit. That would be quite a thrill for Ellen.

I thought it would make the trip easier if we stayed overnight in Nashville and complete the trip to Memphis today. It would also enable Kate to sleep as late as she would like without getting us to Jesse’s too late in the day. That has worked out quite well though it is increasingly difficult to travel with Kate. There is so much for me to think about and manage. Lots of things come up that would be more easily taken care of at home. I don’t intend to stop all overnight travel. I could easily see staying overnight in Nashville on other trips to see Ellen, but I don’t think we will stay away from home longer than one night in the future. I am also uncertain about how long we might do that.

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