Another road trip 11: rain, construction delays, and a flight to a funeral


After work we set out for the west

In the parking lot we got dressed

From a night full of rain

And energy wane

We ended up seriously stressed.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record System (EMR) I can get along with. I spent the winter in Nome, Alaska, and I just finished an assignment in rural Iowa. While combining work with a family visit, I’m attending the funeral of my brother-in-law.

I finished a good day’s work on time at 8:00PM, on schedule for the second occasion since I started this assignment. Bethany picked me up in the parking lot as I was playing with my yoyo, just getting the hand of Gyroscopic Flop after about a year.

I napped in the room, showered, and then ate the last of the rotisserie chicken, while Bethany finished packing.

By the time we got into the car at 10:00PM we faced serious rain and not having an address to put into the GPS for the Detroit Airport.

Across the rest of western Pennsylvania rain fell in sheets, making the speed limit dangerous.

The Ohio Turnpike, chronically under construction, sported signs warning of possible flash floods.

By Toledo, the rain stopped. Misled by a detour, I faithfully followed the signs until they stopped making sense. We got out the atlas when construction rendered the GPS useless. I realized our location with shock, and turned around. We had finished a lecture about learning, detailing an Australian aboriginal language where positions markers go by cardinal directions and all the native speakers maintain an excellent sense of direction.

Night travel helps bypass traffic problems, and I would rather face rain delays than traffic delays. Surrounded by darkness, we changed in the airport parking lot. I left my scrubs and put on a blue button down shirt and khaki pants.

I slept in those clothes for a couple of hours on the floor of the Detroit airport. I slept more hours on the plane to Denver.

That city has changed a lot since I moved there with my parents in 1956, and even more since I moved away twenty years later. With time pressure, we bypassed car rental and took a taxi.

The Ethiopian driver relies on a GPS.

His English vocabulary did not include the word cemetery. He expressed disbelief when we indicated that, yes, we wanted to pull in here.

We arrived about 10 minutes after everyone else, and found the grave by the very large crowd. .

My niece and nephew, at an age where they cannot realize that death is permanent, had no grasp of the finality of this, their first funereal experience, and behaved just like well-behaved, cheerful six-year-olds. But most of the crowd, of the same age as my brother-in-law find themselves at the stage of life where they are just coming to grips with the fact of their own mortality. They had to consider death, tinged with extra drama and irony because of the youth of the decedent.

The rabbi spoke, then a bereaved brother, then one of my brothers.

At the house of mourning dozens gathered to eat and to talk. I got the chance to catch up with my brothers and sisters. One, contemplating a career in medicine, may postpone course work to help with our youngest sister. I gave the best words of wisdom I could find.

One writes, and we talked briefly about writing. Another frequently comes to work in an ER, and we discussed the insanity of that environment.

The 7 of us siblings agreed that we need to find a reason to get together without sadness. We’re looking for the occasion, possibly next summer.

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One Response to “Another road trip 11: rain, construction delays, and a flight to a funeral”

  1. Nasya Wermes Says:

    With deep sympathies Doc to you and Bethany, and family. May G-D fill you with all you need at this time of loss.

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