Welcome back to the kitchen table. It ‘s been awhile, I know. Summer was busy around here. I’m always glad to see Summer come and I’m always glad to see Summer go.
I’ve been looking through old photo albums, I always enjoy that, and I realized that I have a recent memory that never made it to these books. It’s a great untold story, a memory, sitting in my camera – and my head – waiting to be told. I’m going to share it with you over four segments. This particular story from around the kitchen table is written specifically about Ben and Abbey, but for everyone to read someday when they’re older or when I’m gone. Though I surely expect to have more stories with both them AND my other grandkids, this one will be told first…At the time it all happened, and even now as I recount the full day’s events, it reminds me that in spite of the chaos that creeps its disruptive ways into the most mundane parts of our lives, when we trust in and obey the commandments of God – He goes before us and is our rear guard…Isaiah 52:12
It was a dark and stormy night…just kidding. It was actually a beautiful day in February just this past year. Your mom and dad had made their move, driving, from California to South Carolina. You both stayed with Grandpa and me for two weeks during their trek and I was now flying you home to see your mom and dad and your new house! You were three years old, Ben and Abbey, you were 18 months. I found this trip to be some rite-of-passage in Grandmaland since your Great-Grandma Lou had taken your dad on his first plane trip - to North Carolina - so I thought it was sweet that I could now do the same with you two. I was excited!
Our odyssey began in the typical way: pack, feed, drive, arrive, check, board. As you both kissed your Grandpa goodbye at the airport door, we headed to the security checkpoint; seemed easy enough. The “millimeter wave scanner” (full body scan machine) loomed ahead and though you were a little apprehensive, Ben, you walked through the intimidating machine like a big boy – my first moment of pride and preciousness on this trip. I already had my shoes off and my items running through on the conveyer belt when I reached down to pick you up out of the stroller, Abbey, so it could be placed on the scanning device. As I lifted you, my sweet child of God, something in your little head snapped for an undetermined reason and without warning (hence the word “snapped”) , out came a blood-curdling scream followed quickly by writhing, screaming and twisting like I’d not seen before in any toddler, particularly not you. I almost dropped you when you offered this first burst of dissent, but saved you from the fall and just decided I would carry you through like a football to the end zone of the body scanner. That is, until a curt and sour woman waddled over to us at a pace much faster than she seemed capable and said “if that child doesn’t walk through the scanner on her own, yer gonna miss yer plane. Place her on the floor and allow her to walk through. Now.” “ALLOW her to walk through?” I thought as I observed again your convulsing. I was confused about the vision she was apparently seeing that was escaping me somehow. Bewildered, I shook my head and set you in the doorway of the scanner. You then promptly dropped to her knees with a howl. I looked at you Ben, standing on the other side of our chasm, tiny hands clasped, waiting patiently and you said “Abbey’s crying, Grandma.” I appreciated the assessment. I smiled back at you and turned to see the crowd gathering behind us and your grandpa looking on from outside the security line, holding my hairspray that hadn’t been allowed through check point and I knew I must alter our course. I made sure all our things had passed through the item scanner and I stepped over you Abigail as you lay thrashing around and finished my own scan – then I turned around and said as sternly as I could without causing more upheaval, “Abigail! Come here!” Ha! When you saw that I had beaten you across the line, you stood up and ran through the scanner straight to my arms. The security agents were good with that, and we were free to go. Relieved that we weren’t going to miss our plane, I waved a final goodbye to your grandpa and finished gathering our things. Apparently, the trip so far had just been too much for you, Abbey, as you were still having nothing to do with the whole thing and threw yourself on the ground and screamed and cried and twisted for another three or four minutes once we got to the sitting area. Ask any of your uncles or your Aunt Kasey: I’m not usually one to allow kids to throw tantrums, but it was clear that the beast which had uncoiled itself on this fine morning, needed to be freed, rather than tamed. As you screamed and twisted on the ground, I watched the throng of people walking by us to board our plane and could see the “Oh, please put her in the cargo hold” look on all of their faces. I didn’t help the situation by sitting over you making a video and laughing either, but I couldn’t help myself. It was a spectacular display. You began to slow your meltdown to the cooling stage and I felt it was now safe to pick you up and give you a hug and a bottle. You were exhausted – thank goodness. We boarded the plane to Los Angeles without further incident. You both enjoyed the short plane ride and seemed enthralled with the new experience. This flight would determine how I might need to handle things on the longer flight ‘cross country. I was pleased, and not at all surprised at how great you both were. And your display in the terminal earlier, Abbs, seemed to just be a blip on our screen, and became the least of our issues. The actual flying IS the easy part.
When we arrived in Los Angeles and deboarded our first plane, all was calm and all was bright. I mused at the simplicity of traveling with small children as you, Ben, gleefully took in the impressive view of all those giant planes coming and going through the oversized airport windows and Abbey, you were comfy in your stroller with your bottle and all was good.
We had plenty of time to stroll to our connecting flight – or would have if I’d had complete directions. As I searched out the Concourse we would need to catch our flight to Atlanta, I was told at first that we were in the right place, but when I couldn’t find the gate where I thought it was, I asked another someone and was told that “all those flights leave from Concourse E”. Concourse E?!! Strolling was over, we were now bookin’ it to Concourse E. Once we rounded the elevator, which was out of order, and walked down the stairs (the stroller, two kids and three backpacks made for a fun challenge), I fell into some sort of airport despair when I saw the looming corridor in front of us which led to our necessary destination. Unstoppable though, I grabbed your hand, Ben, and placed it gently on the stroller and said “Babe, I need you to hold on to this and walk as fast as you can with Grandma.” You nodded obediently and held tight and did indeed walk fast. We’d gone about 100 feet when the nicest man (could’ve been an angel) drove up in one of the airport “golf carts” and said “Git in, Grandma”. Ordinarily, someone’s assumption that I’m the grandma makes me regret not using better make-up, but today I wanted to congratulate this man on his exceptional observation skills. We hopped on board and sped to Concourse E.
When we finally arrived in Concourse E, I profusely thanked the man for getting us there so quickly since now I could once again relax. We three walked out of the hallway, up the stairs out (there was no elevator on this end) and out into the bustling concourse. I looked at the Departing Flights monitor but couldn’t locate our flight or gate. So…I asked an attendant who said “Oh, that gate is on Concourse A”. Stunned, but calm – and ever aware of the four little eyes watching me, I asked politely, “Are you sure?” He assured me he was right. So we started back to Concourse A but asked a second attendant if we were on the right route, just to be sure. Apparently, we were indeed. We walked quickly back down the stairs and into the large and threatening corridor at breakneck speed as our plane was to depart in less than 15 minutes and boarding, of course, had begun 15 minutes earlier! As we scooted down the hall, that sweet man in the cart drove passed us and said as he whizzed by, “Uh-oh Grandma…” As his voice trailed off, I said under my breath, “Uh-oh for sure.”
It seemed to me that Jesus whispered in my ear and reminded me that He was with us on this trip when, in the next three minutes … that man in the cart came back for us! I was so surprised and so thankful and we loaded up once again. You were both happy to have another ride. He sped us back to Concourse A , helped us unload, set you in your stroller for me, Abbey, and said “God bless you” to us as we ran up the stairs and into the gate that we had stood beside at least twice since this whole airport walk had begun. I don’t know what happened, Kids. I don’t know what I missed or how the gates got me so twisted around in the beginning, but we were on the plane now!! We had a far back seat, a fresh bottle, comfy seats and a very nice flight.
There is no coincidence and everything happens for a reason. We don’t often know what the reasons are and even more often – are not informed of the reason things have happened like they did. Consider Job! Oswald Chambers said “Our Lord expects us to allow Him to operate in our lives with no complaining on our part, and no explanation on His”. Words to live by when you’re in a busy airport on a time restraint with small kids who don’t understand the meaning of time or money or missed flights. Actually, they’re words to live by regardless of your circumstance. Life is a delight. See you soon!