Thanksgiving travel can be stressful. Years ago, I traveled on Thanksgiving through LAX to visit my brother Marty in California. I swore I’d never fly over Thanksgiving again; this is where you laugh and remind me never to say “Never”.
In July of this year, Jim said that he’d like to visit his sister and niece in Oklahoma over Thanksgiving. I stared at him in shock. The last time we flew to Oklahoma (in 2010) he nearly had an anxiety attack watching the door close inside the plane. Seating him near the window on the next leg of the trip seemed to help, but we ended that trip in 2010 with sentiment of never flying again. He even flew in the Navy. So, when he said he wanted to fly to Oklahoma, I was overjoyed! Let the planning begin.
With tickets booked on non-stop flights, I sent emails to friends and family a week prior to our trip regarding the care of animals and the house. To avoid nightmarish parking, we arranged for our friend Lisa to dogsit and to provide airport shuttle. By the time I sat on the plane, my mind shut off. Jim was just getting started. He chatted, watched the baggage handlers, and once in the air, he actually napped. I knitted. I’d been up past midnight finishing my family’s annual calendar, and I was beyond exhausted.
We arrived safely at the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City and were met by Jim’s niece and husband. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with family. We laughed as their dog attempted turkey telekinesis and failed.
That night, I slept for over 8 solid hours. Friday, after giving the English Butterfly Bunny a pedicure, we took a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Fort Worth, Texas to visit another niece whom Jim had not seen in 35 years.
We stopped near Gene Autry, OK for pictures near the huge wind turbines.
I slept most of the way back and vaguely remember stopping at McDonald’s where Jim bought an apple turnover for the first time in 25 years. It felt more like an odd dream.
Some time after midnight, we drove through the city, already decorated with holiday lights, and we stopped at Oklahoma City National Memorial site. This national memorial stands where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building was bombed by a domestic terrorist in 1995. We visited the memorial in 2010 during the day, and I was moved to tears. Now, after midnight six years later, I saw the Memorial in the stillness of the cold night air, where lighted bronze chairs symbolize each life lost on that tragic day. The pool of water reflects the times of 9:01 and 9:03 marking the moments when that rental truck exploded in April 1995 and sent shock waves through our nation. I felt the chilled night air and peace. Now, in the dark, standing at the reflecting pool, I heard and felt the laughter of children dancing on the water. Looking around, I was completely alone in the physical plane…yet, I felt the presence of others. I asked our niece about my experience Saturday morning and she said, “if you felt that, then the memorial did its job. You felt the people who lost their lives. They are not forgotten.” I had been standing near the spot where the daycare had been in the federal building. It’s one experience to stand where people worked and played in the daylight; it’s a completely different experience at night. I am in awe of this tribute to our fallen fellow Americans. Infants, children, mothers and fathers, family members who never made it home from work; they are not forgotten.
My Ubuntu sister, Susan, drove down to meet us on Saturday. We traveled to Cambodia in 2015 and will forever have that bond.
We spent a few hours shopping at small businesses around the city like the Savory Spice Shop (where they grind fresh herbs and spices) and Ingrid’s Kitchen (a German Restaurant) where I tasted Weiner Schnitzel . ..how have I missed out on my heritage’s food all these years?
We are now planning birthday lunches to be at local German restaurants in North Carolina!
Spending time with Jim’s family is a special gift. We arrived home on a smooth flight, checked animals and unpacked. We’re already thinking ahead to next year and getting more of his family together in one spot for the holiday.