South Alabamian

Mom wasn’t there, but she was

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It’d been a while since I’d seen my sister and her family in Georgia. They live a little more than four hours away.

A few too many years ago, it wouldn’t have been far to drive. My wife and I were road dogs. We’ve been known to go six hours one way to see one set of parents, come back for a day, and then go five hours that night to see another set of parents.

Those were much younger days. I’m tempted to call them stupider days but can’t quite bring myself to do it. Maybe it’s a trick of memory, but I look back and see them as good times.

And some of the people who were so happy to see us then are not around anymore. If it were possible to hop in the car to see them again, you wouldn’t believe how far we’d drive without complaint.

But let’s get back to my sister. We’d planned to drive to her house in January, but I came down with COVID.

We planned to go months later, but everyone else in the house got positive COVID tests. Mine was negative, but I spent three days wholly wiped out. I assumed my January antibodies were fighting the August version of the disease.

After we got healthy, we got busy. You know how it is. The kids had things to do, and, hey, adult schedules can get complicated too.

Into our tightly scheduled lives came a family wedding about an hour from where my sister lives. We’d planned to spend Friday night with her, go to the wedding on Saturday, and return home on Sunday.

That didn’t happen because our Friday was superchaotic. I felt bad calling my sister and canceling, but her Friday had been insane, so she was happy about the reprieve.

My wife and I hit the road like we did back in the day and got to the wedding venue 45 minutes before the “I dos.”

We saw a bunch of smiling people, who were happy to see us. The lovely young couple got hitched, and the bride’s parents fed us a little too well if you know what I mean.

We spent the night with my sister on Saturday and got back on the road early in the morning.

The drive home was weird because I was processing the short but intense time we’d spent with family.

Before she’d died, my Mom had counted as one of the bride’s favorite people. Mom had that effect on a lot of people at the wedding. All those who were happy to see me would’ve been much happier seeing her.

That isn’t a complaint. I’m right there with them. I seem to have reached an age where even the most beautiful and joyous moments have touches of sadness. I suspect I’m not the only one.

The wedding invitation got me out of my comfy chair. It offered a break from the familiar routine, but getting on the road so early with such a quick turnaround promised to be grueling.

If not for the wedding, we would’ve had a chill weekend at home, trying not to think about all the chores we weren’t going to do.

Now, I’m back at the house, sitting in my comfy chair, and feeling unexpectedly good about the miles we traveled the past two days.

I finally remembered why we were such road dogs in the first place.

It was love bringing us together.

M. Scott Morris is a former editor of The South Alabamian. He’s a writer and editor living in Tupelo, Mississippi.

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