The Little Black Box | Notebook from The Sky

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Debbi DiMaggio

Grandma and I arrived to Denver International 2 hours early. That never happens when I fly; always last to board, or more often than not, near misses. Or what happened this past May when we were traveling between London and Milan, the gate attendant had to hold the door for us as we were sprinting like OJ in the Hertz commercial or like we witnessed on the news fleeing from the LAPD.

Near misses and actual missed flights occurred when we were actually early and waiting for our flight. Either because we were waiting at the wrong gate or didn’t get the gate change memo. Don’t ask 🙂 Those are other stories.

As I was saying, Mom and I arrived 2 hours early. My cell phone had died so I was unable to retrieve our boarding tickets but the full service line was short and we so early that it didn’t matter. Time, so it seemed, was on our side.
After having finally arrived to the terminal only to learn we were delayed. Now 3 hours early, I thought to myself…. What to do?
I had walked by those massage and nail spas always bustling with passengers and long lines on past trips but never had the time. Nice for us, this time Xpress Spa was empty so I encouraged Mom to get a neck and back massage with me.
Hanging over the contraption like a rag doll we were rubbed and elbowed and massaged. It was good. However, as you might imagine, no comparison to being nestled and naked under a warm blanket laying comfortably on a table listening to soothing music while inhaling scents of lavender like we experienced the evening before at our favorite Boulder Hotel, The St. Julien.
As we were checking out I told Mom we needed the U shaped travel pillows. She wasn’t sure, but I pushed on, “Chase says they really work.” He seemed pretty comfortable between our flights to and from SFO, Boston and Nantucket these last few weeks, so why not.
A few drinks and shared chicken wrap later Mom headed to Gate 43. I continued to read, savoring the last few chapters of my book, and for that matter, summer.
I followed shortly after, looking high and low for Mom. The Gate was packed. I was standing still now looking all around thinking, “did she get lost?” “How did I lose her?” If I was wearing a plunging neckline my chest would have been in his face. In my moment of slight panic my longtime friend and Highland Partner, Scott Hill, stands up and says, “Hi pretty lady.”  I wasn’t wearing a plunging neckline but instead my usual summer uniform, a short simple dress, a jacket zipped up to my neck with my bright orange flip flops from the Carneros Inn. Mom overheard my voice and strolled over. I signed with relief. Phew! We were almost home. I had to get her back safely.
The three of us exhausted, laughing and sharing war stories. Our trials and tribulations and the stress of moving our daughters and granddaughter into their respective college residences over the last 20 hours, not to mention long flights in between and way too many clothes each of our daughters posses, it was finally time to board the plane and get home.
I had been asking all along.
Why had we been delayed? Was the airplane coming to pick us up in need of maintenance? Was the airplane safe? Was the delay caused by the lightening strikes we had seen off in the horizon out our cab window just 3 hours earlier?
Without any knowledge or explanation we all boarded the plane with relief like unsuspecting cattle and thoughts of home. To our own beds, our fluffy pillows, a tall glass of water. To our families and to our duties and routines of tomorrow.
Settled in our seats, quite quickly, we took off at exactly 730pm. Now late, but on time. Go figure.
Up we went, book in hand. Excited to finish the last few chapters of Barefoot, by Elin Hilderbrand, the book I bought in Nantucket which also takes place in Nantucket. As I read I visualized still being on vacation on Nantucket Island. Sheer bliss.
I was in my favorite spot, on the aisle, Mom was sitting in the middle seat right next to me leafing through Sky Mall and Spirit magazine trying to keep herself entertained.
Than it started.
Awful, awful turbulence.
Up down, side to side. Were the wings going to snap? Should I go get Scott and bring him back with us? Were we all going down. 3 longtime friends and Piedmonters, all at once, just like that? And the rest? It got worse and worse. I couldn’t even hear the pilot clearly as he spoke to us over the intercom, “sit in your seat with belts fastened for your safety and the safety of others around you.” It continued. Up. Down. The worst part was the uncontrollable shaking in the cabin and the feeling of being utterly defenseless while watching the wings  flutter so hard I thought they might  snap. I read the same paragraph over and over. I knew Mom was scared. I took her hand. I peered out the window looking for sky, not the black I was seeing. Hopeful for a glimpse of blue, even a white clearing or opening.
My last thoughts were a flash of my kids. Bianca and Chase. I couldn’t cry. I asked, “Why?” I rationalized with myself, “I’ve had a great life. My mom, now 75, has had a great life.” She made it to the TSA milestone where you don’t have to remove your shoes. I flashed on Bianca and Chase, as cute little kids with sandy blonde hair, sun-tanned with big smiles.
I stopped myself…  It was at that time I forced myself to admit, they are not children. They are capable young adults now 18 and 21. They are on a path. A good path. Adam and I have given them a strong, solid and sound foundation. They can take care of themselves. They don’t need me. It’ll be okay. They’ll be okay.
And then, the turbulence stopped.
Written on our Southwest Flight between Denver and Oakland as I was trying to keep my mind on something other than the awful turbulance 🙁
Now safely at home, unpacking and settling in. Chase says a quick hello and dashes off with his friends having just returned from Water Polo practice,  squeezing out the last ounce of summer on the eve of Senior Year.
And Bianca now all set up in her new room in her shared house in her last year at CU Boulder is no doubt out with friends sharing stories of their summer adventures and reconnecting.
Happy for them both. Proud and relieved. They too are happy, grateful kids. And I’m just so lucky to be their mom.
All is well. All is good. It’s a grateful life 🙂
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One Response

  1. Diane Halden says:

    Fabulous (your writing, not the turbulence)!!! Is there anything you can’t do exceptionally well?!!! And, Chase and Bianca will always need you and Adam….even with the “steel”foundation you all built for them!!! xo

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