The Long Way Home 3.1.24

Becky and I haven’t done much together for the last few years, either traveling or socializing. We’ve been married for half a century and still love doing things together, but life conspired against that for a few years.

Last weekend, we took an overnight trip together. Usually, Becky makes a shopping trip to Duluth alone, driving both ways on the same day. 

This trip meant scratching her shopping itch and getting together with family to send grandson Connor and his girlfriend Taylor off to Detroit Lakes. They leave March 1 to work at a seasonal supper club there.

So why, in our golden years, were we leaving one or the other of us at home? 

We had three rescue dogs. 

A chihuahua mix named Benny belonged to an elderly gentleman in Memphis who lived alone. Benny entered a rescue near our house in Illinois after the old man died. He was a one-person dog, and he quickly bonded with Becky. We adopted him, he adopted her, and he adopted separation anxiety. 

Benny suffered from kidney disease and a severe heart murmur. We tried everything from diet to meds to keep him comfortable. He visited a kidney specialist at a veterinary clinic in Eden Prairie. He took more overnight trips with Becky than I did.

Becky worked hard, experimenting with his meals, but he was a picky eater. His illness bonded them ever tighter, and he was a doggy basketcase whenever his human mama was not in the house. We could not leave him with anyone for an extended time (more than a few hours).

So, one of us always stayed home.

Benny got to the end of his kidney struggles a couple of weeks ago, leaving us grieving but with the gift of being able to be with family in Duluth last weekend. Benny’s sister Gypsy, another rescued dog, is more friendly and less anxiety-ridden and went with us on our overnight journey.

Since we haven’t traveled much in years, preparing for this overnight brought some age-related laughs at my expense. 

The first occurred before we left home. I loaded a change of clothes and toiletries in my high-mileage backpack and brought it downstairs. I told Becky there was room enough for her stuff and went on to do other things.

A bit later,  I went to the backpack with my Kindle and unzipped my favorite pouch on the front. I saw a female undergarment and a well-used wrist brace. I thought I was a hero because Becky had forgotten both after a previous overnighter. I popped over to Becky and said, “Wow, look what I found.” 

“I just packed those,” she said, shaking her head in amazement.

The second laugh at the decline of my memory came later that afternoon.

Grandson Connor is an accomplished barista at Yellow Bike Coffee Shop in the Fitgers mall. He did some of his “latte art” for us, and we enjoyed hanging out with family.

After lunch, we checked into a hotel near the Miller Hill Mall. Dropping my backpack in our room, I piped up, “Dammit, I forgot to pack my tablet.”  

Crushed that I wouldn’t have anything to read in bed, I took Gypsy out exploring nearby empty lots. Later, when we got back to the room, Becky said, “I found your Kindle. It was in your favorite pouch with my wrist brace and undergarment.”

As if I needed more evidence, I’m old.