Why we struggled to get out of Wisconsin last month

FATHER’S DAZE
Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

A few weeks ago I mentioned in this space that we made an unscheduled trip out to New York.

It all started with a phone call from my brother Jim at about 6:30 on a Friday morning – a call that I missed because my cell phone was downstairs charging and I was upstairs sleeping.

When I woke up, went downstairs, retrieved my phone and saw the missed call, I knew it couldn’t be good news.

Let’s face it, the only good news people call with that early in the morning is when a new baby is born, and there was nobody in the family who was expecting, so it had to be bad news – and it was.

He informed me that our niece, Catilin, had been killed early that morning in a car accident.

She was 25, the daughter of our older brother Chuck – who died six years ago at the age of 60.

That particular branch of the family tree doesn’t seem to have the best of luck.

Catilin had been riding home with her boyfriend when he fell asleep and went off the road, hitting a tree along the ride right on the passenger side door where she was sitting – she had no chance.

Catilin had just returned to Warwick a week earlier after an aborted move to South Carolina earlier in the summer.

That was the move Alex and Julia helped her make after we went out to New York in late June for another niece’s high school graduation.

The job she had down there was eliminated, her roommate moved to Florida and she had no money left to stay there, so she moved back home to the rest of the family and was living temporarily with her cousin Lauren.

She was scheduled to go for a job interview later that Friday, a job as a school aide similar to what she had done as a school bus aide for several years before moving south.

The funeral was scheduled for the following Wednesday, with visitation the preceding day, so Terry and I made arrangements for time off and left Monday afternoon along with Alex, Julia and Aiden for Warwick.

As I noted a few weeks ago, it took us about twice as long as usual to get out of Wisconsin, so we were behind schedule even as we were starting out.

Alex did most of the driving – it was his car and he wasn’t sure if he could trust anybody else with it – but I did take over for him for a spell in the wee hours of the morning.

That was after he was being lulled to sleep by the monotony that is Interstate 80 across northern Pennsylvania.

It’s by the far the longest stretch of road on the trip out east and, despite all the trips we’ve taken on it, it hasn’t gotten any shorter, easier or more exciting or entertaining.

It’s actually some picturesque country, much of it through the wooded Appalachians, but when it’s in the single digits on the clock, there’s not much to see and it can get pretty challenging to stay awake and alert.

We finally rolled into Warwick about 10 a.m., not having made up much if any of the several hours we lost getting out of the Badger state.

Alex dropped Terry and I off at Jim and Mary’s house, then he and Julia and Aiden headed out to Lauren’s, where they were staying.

With the visitation scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., it didn’t leave a lot of time to squeeze in a power nap of any kind.

Terry, Julia and Aiden had spent the trip in the back seat of the car, but while they got some sleep, the quality of their slumber varied from person to person.

Aiden zonked out pretty well for most of the night – oh, to be able to sleep like that in a car, which I never could.

But Terry had the driver’s seat just about in her lap while Alex was driving – he likes to think he’s Shaquille O’Neal when he drives, apparently – so she didn’t get the greatest sleep during the drive.

I did move the driver’s seat forward considerably when I took my turn behind the wheel – I sleep with Terry all the time and I know all too well how much room she needs to stretch out.

But that wasn’t a very long stretch of driving – or sleeping for her.

So once we got to the old homestead in Warwick, she said her polite hellos to everybody present and headed up to the guest bedroom for whatever shut-eye she could grab – which still probably wasn’t enough.


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