I had to take my MIL to the airport yesterday, a family wedding on the mainland that she was off to. Admittedly, I didn’t have the best attitude about it because I was volunteered for this job without asking me, & in reality I needed to be at home finalising school plans for the week ahead. A million and one last minute things to do, but sometimes when people volunteer you for things you’re stuck. Jammed into a hole & there’s no way out. It’s a huge peeve of mine, that whole being volunteered for things without asking me first, but that will have to be dealt with later. Instead Mr S calls his mother & tells her I’ll be there at quarter to one to collect her.
She interrupts this to 1145. We’re not sure why & repeat ourselves, “So you mean 11:45?”
“But it should be 11:45.”
“There’s no need for that, 12:45 is more than enough time. We live 5 minutes from the airport you’ll still be there 1:10 minutes prior to your flight.”
“Right, so you’ll be here at 1145?”
“NO! 12:45, go get a pen & paper, right it down quickly. Write 12:45. Be ready to go when she arrives.”
Because she said 1145 SO MANY TIMES I actually showed up at 1145. Irony for you is that she was standing there ready to go. House all closed up, case in the doorway.. I say, “Do you have your ID?”
“Yes it’s in my thing!”
“That thing you have!”
It’s like a game we play, I have to guess the missing word, the missing item. I have to fill in the word before the frustration of not remembering it takes over, the stress levels in both of us rising, so I say, “The suitcase?”
“No.” I don’t have anything else, but I presume she means handbag & am about to ask her to look when I realise her neighbour is in the home & waiting on Nana to give her a key.
“Make sure you give the right key this time, not the one to her home, but the one to your home..” I refrain from pointing out she’ll only be gone 1 full day & there’s really no need for a big key exchange.
“No, it’s the mailbox key this time. I can’t get it off my ring, have you got one?”
“No, sorry I don’t.”
The neighbour looks up & says, “You realise you’ve locked her out of the house right?”
I don’t have a key for the screen door either, but I decided to pluck a few random bits of grass out of the garden instead of worrying about going inside. “I’m so sorry, let me— Oh, are you weeding the garden? Are you the one who did it before?”
“No, sorry I didn’t weed it before, I haven’t had time to weed my own garden much less anyone else’s.”
“But someone has done it!”
“Aren’t you lucky, perhaps they thought you’d like it. Are you ready to go?”
“Nearly, I can’t get this key off!”
I point out that the only mail day she’ll be gone for is today, & as it’s raining the postman is running early, at least on our street, but by now the key is free & there’s no point saying much of anything.
We dash off to the airport, now keep in mind we live in a large town, but have a dinky airport that only opens when a flight is coming in/out. We sit down to wait for things to open up. Some English tourists show up & ask where everyone is. I explain this is normal & that the boarding area will open once the 135 flight lands & all people have collected their baggage. She’s in shock/horror. She & Nana strike up a conversation because they are both from England. Italian tourists show up, I repeat myself. Followed by repeating myself, again to the Asian tourists who are far more laid back about the whole ordeal.
I note the signs about not leaving things laying around & note that the postman has broken this rule because he’s left a parcel outside a high security door. I debate banging on the door to report said package or running for my life & decide that I shall do neither. If God decides to call me home I only pray that the fly buzzing around my head is not called home with me. And thus I sit.. listening to Nana critique the appearance of the Italians, who in fairness could use a comb on their hair, their children could use baths & shoes for that matter & am attempting to be calm, relax & let go of my irritation. I double check the time on her boarding info & that’s when it happens..
She leans over & says, a tad more loudly than needed, “You know there’s no point all these people pushing each other around because *I* will be first as I will be in a wheel chair. It’s a benefit of being in one, you get on first.” I look around, smile, & say, “Hopefully they will remember the chair.” “Oh, they WILL remember the chair, trust me.” I decide to send my children a txt message & point out that I’ve mad a grave error in getting out of bed today because I am now stranded in an airport with a variety of tourists who can’t believe how laid back our airport is & their grandmother who is informing everyone how she will be first on the plane. I refrain from telling everyone that the tiny elevator on wheels will prevent her from being first.
Instead, I watch the flight arrival & departure screen for a few minutes before wondering how long I’ve been sitting there. I note that the tourists aren’t use to flies buzzing them & wonder if I’ll be arrested if I go to the car & get a fly swatter. I decide not to tempt things. I note the creepy man who comes into the airport & is far too caught up in his dark coat & making sure his equally dark hat is on his head just-so. I note he’s wearing sunglasses, lest I should have to give testimony to security of police when it all goes down. Suddenly he removes his dark glasses & I stop paying any mind to him because I figure he just has bed hair & wouldn’t like it if Nana noticed & offered him a comb.
It is shortly thereafter that the gate opens & everyone surges forward, except myself. Why bother, I mean if she IS going to be first why rush? I can not put off the fact that Nana is becoming increasily anxious though & finally subject myself to standing in line knowing there will be minor complaints about no chairs to sit in. It’s at that moment I take note that the security lady is scanning for bombs in the lounge, & thus I do the only logical thing & scan the area I am in for anything with wheels. If I have to make a fast break with Nana in tow I need to know what I can throw her on to rush her out because she’s only brought a walking stick instead of walker with wheels. I see nothing suitable & determine that if anything is found in the lounge I am stuck having to throw her over my shoulder & regret that my teens are not with me to help. Thankfully nothing sinister is found & I realise we are next in line.
It’s at this moment she decides it would be wise to pull out her ID to show the clerk. “Yes, that would be wise..” I mumble while quickly putting her case down so she can balance her enormous handbag on it. I’m left wondering why now that backpack purses are back in style she’s given her’s up, especially considering her handbag is so big she often can’t carry it without help. I have little time to consider what the answer could be because the hat she’s taking for the wedding she’s off to attend is quickly thrust at me. I consider putting it on to keep a hand free, but I honestly can’t bring myself to do it. It’s not that the hat is overly posh, covered in feathers, or anything. Rather it looks like it belongs on a school girl from Anne of Green Gables. I no sooner reach this conclusion than the walking stick, which I am reminded is not hers & I must deal with kindly, is thrust at me. I realise, that the ID is clearly missing & I bite my tongue, hard, to keep from saying, “But I did ask..”
Instead I suggest I look, but it’s simply not there. Not in any one of the million pockets, not in her trouser pockets, not in the suitcase.. it simply isn’t. She’s hit pure panic now & I point out there’s no point panicking until after we speak with the young man behind the counter. But before I can point out we’ve been called forward someone slams a large parcel down beside us. It’s covered in a million fragile stickers & I wonder how fragile it is if one is going to slam it down so hard, but who can ask when the man quickly exits the boarding area. I debate reporting this, international air travel does this to a person. I scan out all exits, I look for things with wheels to get my family out faster, & I report all unattended baggage. Before I can say anything the female clerk comes round the counter peers closely at the box & runs for the high security door. Bangs on it & drags someone over to it who starts inspecting it. They ask who’s it is, & I say, “A fellow with glasses put it down & walked out.” They scoop it up & take it through another high security door, & that’s when someone starts shouting.
“Oy! You can’t take that it’s mine!” I avoid eye contact & point out we’re being called up to the counter. The man eventually gets his package back, around the time Nana points out she’s in a spot of bother due to no ID & asks if a library card will suffice. The man avoids a smile, but before he can say much she says, “I do have a frequent flyer card.” Oddly, he does smile & says, “That will work Ma’am.”
“But will that suffice once she’s in Melbourne for her return trip?”
“It shouldn’t be much of an issue.”
“Mm..” I mean it’s tempting, oh so tempting, but no I can’t.. “Nana I think I need to run back to your place & look for the ID, where did you put it? Can you remember?”
There’s a long pregnant pause before she says, “I do believe it’s in that brown bag you gave me.”
“Right, I’ll help you through security, dash back to find it, & bring it here to you.”
“Oh no, you shouldn’t go to all that trouble..”
“Let’s deal with security..”
I note all the signs that point out if you have artificial limbs or metal inside of you it must be reported before going through the screening. I sigh again knowing this will cause another hiccup, ask the man beside me to pass me a white tray & remind Nana to empty ALL her pockets. Sadly, the ID does not magically appear. A mobile phone does, but before I can mention taking off her watch her walking stick is confiscated & she’s handed a wooden one instructed to remove her shoes & step through the security booth.
“Wait! She has a metal hip, & wrist.. two actually.”
“Ma’am get away from the booth! You must sit down on a chair instead.”
“What? I can’t sit down I’m trying to get on a plane!”
“Nana, just sit down a moment, they will use the magical wand of security on you.”
“Remember the plates in your wrists? They have to use a special scanner on you, look her comes someone else who will get special treatment too.”
She goes to sit down & the security guard calls her forward, she doesn’t miss a beat, “You didn’t even allow me a moment to sit down!”
He smiles, but waves her through.
I realise, after she’s scanned I still have her ticket. Drat! Security freaks out when I hand it to her over the barricaded area, but let it slide. I point out some chairs she can sit down in & that I will be back as soon as I can, but I can see the worry setting in. She’s not sure where to go or how she will carry everything. The guard asks if I’d like to come through, “No, I’m sorry I can’t. She’s forgotten something & I Must go back for it. She’ll be okay, she needs a wheel chair.” He nods.
I make a run for the car in the pouring rain. Then remember I’ve been inside too long & have to go back to the arrivals to pay for parking, then another mad dash back to the car. Thankfully we live 5 minutes from our small airport. I make it back to her house & pretend I don’t see curtains moving to see who’s arrived & why someone is dashing in. I make a beeline for the brown bag, but the ID is not there.I check the black bag. No ID. I look under the bed, on the bed, under the covers. on the table, in ever spare bag I can find. I dig through every pile of papers, I make emergency calls to Mr S at work & beg him for ideas, He instructs me to check the forbidden box.
I check for the forbidden green box that her own kids have never even peered in. I find an expired passport & other things I swear I will never mention until the time for them to be revealed to her own children is right. I’m in a panic myself now. 40 minutes to get back to the airport, clear security & hand her the missing ID.. the ID I can’t find. I am desperate now & check the bathroom, no go. I tell Mr S to quiz her hard on where she put luggage upon her return a week ago. Walk her through it step by step, they suggest I check the bed.. again. I refuse & am busy checking the pockets of every coat, sweater, & bathrobe I can find. I am terrified a neighbour will walk in & think I’m ransacking the house. I have no time to dwell on this & look in the fridge.
I’m running out of ideas & now have 20 minutes to get back to the airport. I can hear the rain coming down & remember my car windows are open, & debate dealing with it, but the ID must be found. I dash into the garage, I normally avoid it. It smells like laundry soap, very floral. It makes my skin itch & my head ache. I check the washer, I check the laundry that’s drying, the craft table & then I see the walker in the corner. I dash over & lift up the seat to discover the missing ID. Score! I tell Mr S I’ve found it & that I have to run, literally & abruptly hang up. The car seats are soaked, as is my purse, I’m drowning in my own sweat at this point & just praying I make it in time.
I make it back with 10 minutes to spare, rush in to the security corridor & throw everything in a bin. The guards are all staring at me, as if they know me but can’t decide where. Apparently my 30 minute absence is too great a period & I’m tempted to just say, “Wheelchair.” which will likely bring it all back to them. Instead I’m pulled aside from random drug testing. They wave the magic wand over me, touching my shirt, my shoes, my keys.. I am tempted to call the kids via FaceTime & point out that this is just like Border Security, but don’t want the guards to think I’m being cheeky. I pass, with flying colours & dash over to the corner where I find Nana, near tears.
“I found it!”
“Oh, Kendra! Come closer let me give you a hug.”
I debate saying no, because I’m not joking when I say I’m drowning in my own sweat & I don’t trust any deodorant I can buy here to control what might erupt from under my arms, but how can you deny an 83 year old woman the right to have a hug when you’ve just stopped her from crying?
“It’s just,” she says, “I was so scared someone had stollen it. I wasn’t worried about getting back on my flight I figured I can go to the NAB & get ID.” I smile & decide not to point out that her return flight is Sunday & the bank will not be open. Instead I say, “Look, I think your plane is here! It’s raining pretty heavy out, you’d better put your fancy hat on.”