I couldn’t resist sharing this story with you! This is definitely a Cheryl Thing. It will take me a minute to get to the good part, but I want to remember it all.
Miss Betty drove me to the airport. Mr. Billy came down to help me load the car, but I insisted he let me carry the big-ass suitcase I had packed way too full. “She who packs it must carry it!” I said. Anyway, I told MaBet to let me off by the skycap because there was no way I was going to lug that thing inside. I only had $15 in cash but was in one of those “I don’t care how much it costs, this just needs to happen” modes that you can identify with. (I feel like you and I tend to hit this wall early, whereas LA and Miss Patsy manage to wheel and deal and get the same outcome without spending a fortune.)
My motto: HAVE VISA, WILL TRAVEL.
My motto: HAVE VISA, WILL TRAVEL.
Anyway, I was pretty sure the larger of my two bags would cost $100 to check because it was definitely overweight. But the skycap was a total sweetheart, winked at me and rolled it in, and saved me from the weight fees. (Remember when a certain relative told me I was too nice to service people? HA! It continues to serve me well.) I emptied ye olde wallet and apologized for not having more.
Naturally I put the "real treasures" in my carry-on:
Aunt Debbie had brought me a go-bag with a container of “minner cheese,” a small roll of Ritz crackers, a plastic bag of popcorn and M&Ms, and some adorable napkins. Too, too, too cute! Obviously the cheese has been her trademark forever, but I was so touched that she’d picked up on popcorn and M&Ms being our special thing. (Ranie brought over a Christmas care package of P&M, which she says is one of William’s favorite snacks…and Katie posted a picture of the bowl she made for her girls on the night of your funeral (I think…it’s all a blur).
I ate my snacks in the airport, and the flight to Charlotte was delayed, but that just gave me time to talk to Frances and Aunt Debra on the phone. I asked Frances if she would mind going over and tidying up behind me, as it was just all I could do to get out of the house on time this morning, and I ran out of time to leave things ready for showings. (On that note…you would be SO PROUD of the way I handled something yesterday. Aunt Sandy wanted to go ahead and show the house to someone. She assured me they knew exactly what the condition would be – wallpaper lady stripping paper, stuff everywhere, etc. I was so glad that I did not take one bit of that on, as I was determined to make my day about celebrating your spirit and sharing your special things. Instead, I just said to myself, “I cannot be bothered to pick up this house today. If someone wants to see it in a tidy state, they can come tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. Today I have other things to do.” Again – no one was pressuring me to clean it up. I was putting that on myself. I think we all need to be cautious of the times that we do that unnecessarily.)
Anyway, here’s the best part:
I ambled from Concourse E to Concourse C and even stopped in Brooks Brothers to see what was 50% off. I didn’t realize how close I was cutting it. I got to the gate, and the gate agent said, “Well, hello there, Ms. Smith!” I laughed and looked at him quizzically, figuring he just knew I was missing, since it showed up in the system.
“Don’t you recognize me?” he asked.
“Um….are you joking?” I said.
“Yeah, I’m just kidding with you. You’re the last one aboard.”
“Great! Does that mean you’re upgrading me to First Class?” I laughed.
“Ha! Well, you’re in 9E. The Exit Row. We like to call that The Poor Man’s First Class. But I guess you’re not so poor if you’re carrying that coat!” he said, pointing at Pearl, which is what I’ve named that $40 fur coat Leigh Ann Bought me at ChristTown on the Saturday afternoon of the Sawano Club dance. (“Don’t bring that thing in here! It’s probably infested with fleas,” you said. Va’s quote: “Do you think it belonged to Sister Baby? Is it mink? Or maybe something else, like possum?”)
“Now hang on a minute. Check this out,” I said, shifting the coat so I could pull out the $40 tag I’ve left on the sleeve.
The guy almost howled when I showed him the price tag. (Ode to Minnie Pearl!) He was just one of those super-personable people. He followed me to the door, and he kept joking with me, and I said, “You just don’t know how much I needed to meet you today. I’ve had a hard week. I’m actually coming back from my mother’s funeral.”
He quickly shifted gears and started asking all of the usual nice questions, and I said, “No! It’s okay! It was truly a celebration! She lived an amazing life. You would not have believed how packed the church was!”
Anyway, he asked the crew to give me the VIP treatment and bring me a bloody mary on him. It was delicious.
I am so happy that Adam and Laura (whom you’ve not met, but she took us to that party the Tuesday I left…the one I told you about for the private jet company…she sent flowers, which MaBet now has) have stayed in my place while I was gone. It feels like I’m not coming home to a cold, empty place (well, it will be empty, but that’s fine by me), but one that my friends have “kept warm” for me while I was gone. That’s special.