Did someone say road trip? In 2000, my younger daughter and I seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We took my grandmother on a toad trip to Charleston, South Carolina from our home in East Tennessee. It was the experience of a lifetime but not necessarily in an inspiring way.
You have to understand the situation. My grandmother was battling a number of health issues. She also suffered from controlling behavior and orneriness. My daughter was battling health issues of her own. Instead of attending regular school that year she had to be homeschooled. That probably set the stage for the grumpiness that was to come on this vacation.
It had always been a dream of my grandmother’s to see Charleston, SC. She had read about the grand houses of the Battery and heard us talk about the market in downtown. The pictures and stories inspired her. In her mind, Grandmother might not have much time left and she wanted me to take her to Charleston as a “final” road trip.
To make things easier, grandmother finally got the motorized wheelchair that her doctor had suggested. She also insisted on taking her regular wheelchair and walker. For a four day trip she packed two suitcases, her purse and a satchel. My daughter and I were packed in one suitcase for this multi-generational road trip.
From the moment we made reservations things slid downhill. She wanted to stay downtown. Then she fussed about the cost. On arrival she didn’t like the motel and worried about not bringing enough clothes. Next, she complained that the Charleston vacation was hot.
Grandmother didn’t like the breakfast at the motel the next morning. My daughter and I took turns pushing her wheelchair on the road trip. The motorized chair she had insisted upon sat unused in the van. After all, she might run over someone she said. My daughter was trotting along beside us chattering about the morning and was in a great mood.
We saw a cute restaurant and we went inside. Grandmother commented how nice the place was – until she found out that they were out of orange juice. Then it became the worst place on the whole vacation.
The next “worst place” was the Charleston market. Lunch was worse. She enjoyed the horse-drawn carriage ride but only after throwing a scene about where to leave the wheelchair. (I’ll always be grateful to the wonderful staff who rose to the occasion.)
The rest of the road trip was spent complaining. My daughter remained cheerful until she began feeling sick THEN grandmother became grumpy. On the way home from vacation the beds were hard and uncomfortable. Breakfast wasn’t good. The orange juice didn’t taste right and the hot weather was crummy.
When we got grandmother home neither my daughter (now feeling better) nor myself could get things unloaded fast enough. It was an hour to unload the van and two more to get grandmother settled from the vacation. She fussed and complained the whole time.
On the way back to our house my daughter and I talked about what she learned and decompressed from the road trip. I told my daughter that I was proud of her and hoped that one day she would have fond memories. She just asked that we please never ever do this again.
The next day, my daughter and I were running errands when the cell phone rang. She answered it for me and sounded excited as she hung up. Then, she looked at me and said “That was Gran. Can you take her on a road trip to Chattanooga next week? I think we should go.”
Source: Personal Experience of a family road trip vacation.