Slice of Life: A Long Day of Travel

Some of my faithful readers are aware that I recently travelled to New York State to see my aging parents. They are 83 and 84. We got home, after a 900 mile car ride, last night at one o’clock in the morning Central Standard Time. I have not seen my parents since November of 2019, but had planned to see them last spring. You know what happened that prevented the trip….the pandemic.

My husband and I have been exceedingly conservative with our actions during the last ten months. We have taken masking, social distancing, and hand-washing very seriously. We have diminished our social circle and stayed home as much as possible. Of course, this altered our “activities of daily living.” Running to the store to grab one forgotten or desired item stopped for me. Minimally, I have continued to grocery shop once a week and I’ve made several trips to the fabric store (which is next to the grocery story) each month. But, that’s about it. Vacation trips were cancelled; coffee dates and dinner parties have been put on hold. I walk outside with a friend once a week. And, I do the same with my husband and dog when I have the chance. Our life, like most taking the pandemic seriously, has changed.

But, my parents are aging quickly. The friend that I walk with said it best when we talked about how our elderly parents are doing by stating, “this year has been the year of diminished capacity.” Her parents are younger than mine by only two to four years and while not quite as infirmed as of yet, are also wrestling with how their actions during this time of viral spread can effect their lives. Changing habits and expectations formed by a lifetime of living is difficult at best.

So, for much of the last year, I convinced myself that by staying away from my parents, I was protecting them from a deadly virus. But, during this same timeframe, they have continued to age and fail in health. It was actually my husband who suggested we go to see them. I was adamant that we quarantine in our home and obtain a COVID test prior to our travel. So, last week, that is exactly what we did.

After quarantining for close to a week, we got our first COVID test of the pandemic. This was obtained locally, through our county health department’s drive up testing site run by the National Guard. We tested Monday morning the 11th and had our results (both negative) by early Wednesday morning, the 13th. We were packed and ready to go, as we have been symptom free, and took off for the long drive to New York by 7 a.m. that same day. If we had been negative, we would not have gone anywhere. We planned meals for our five day stay, shopped locally, and packed all of our food and beverages for those meals with my parents. We took everything we would need because other than stopping to get gas and use the lavatory, we did not go stop anyway. Once at my parents, we were with them in their home for five days. My husband and I did not go out except to take a daily constitutional around the neighborhood and through the woods for a total of 2.5 -3.0 miles of exercise.

It all worked well. As some of you know I took a puzzle, we watched the divisional football games (my father is a huge sports fan), I took family genealogy notes, and we offered to help them in their quest to “clean out” the two lifetimes of acquired “stuff” that accumulates. I also spent considerable time trying to figure out where they could obtain vaccine information, help them to register online, and explain all of this to them in a way they could digest – without over relying on the technology that both the State of New York (and other states), as well as health departments, and health systems seem to think our seniors use and can navigate (which a a gravely wrong assumption). For a post containing my opinion on this, check here. I will be writing more about the vaccine roll out and the disadvantage our elderly have been placed in by the dependency of governmental and health systems on technology. But, those observations are for a future post.

For part of three full days, I searched the internet, read voraciously, watched their local news, and accumulated an understanding of what to tell them regarding their vaccinations for COVID-19. I sat them down several times and explained how they would “hear” about their appointment time, where they would need to go depending on who or what system called, and got them registered on the county health department site (with their permission, of course). By the time we left yesterday morning, while they had not been called, they knew what their actions should be (answer the phone, watch emails, and go when they were called). Appointments seemed to be booked into April through the county health department, and non other were being offered yet. I felt their best chance was to wait for a call from their regional health system, a system to which their private primary care office belonged, for an appointment time. I felt I had done what I could. I hoped that luck was on our side.

We left after doing some cleaning and packing up and saying our heartfelt good-byes, planning to return in the spring for another visit. Our trip, from their house to ours, is 880 miles. We got notified by our GPS app that we needed to detour off the main highway, or I-90, due to an accident. Before we could make the detour, we sat on the interstate for close to an hour (along with many others). It was snowing hard. We made the required detour but the rerouting didn’t end there. For another hour, we were re-routing and detoured several times, as not only was their a road closure and an accident, there was a raging lake effect snow storm!

Along the I-90 interstate in New York and Pennsylvania yesterday. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

Finally, after 16 hours on the road, we pulled in our driveway in Wisconsin. Through Western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and over to the West Central part of Wisconsin, we traveled. We are home safe. We are tired.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday. Thank you to for hosting this supporting writing forum every week! I have participated almost daily for since February of 2017.

12 thoughts

  1. It says a lot about your writing life that you had the energy to slice after such a challenging trip home! I’m sure your parents were thrilled to see you and to have your support navigating the vaccine labyrinth. I hadn’t thought about technology being an obstacle for older people. . . yikes–you’re right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes, I write everyday no matter what. It has become a habit I don’t like to miss. Unfortunately, the technology issue for our elderly and the vaccine roll out is a real problem. I hope others have someone to help them navigate it. Thanks for your comments.


  2. Oh my goodness. That is a draining experience but I am so glad you were able to make the trip. You were so careful and that is so hard to do. Trips home in the snow that go on and on are some of the most exhausting of situations to find yourself. May a nice nap be in your future. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for bringing us along with you on the journey. With a mom who’s 300 miles away, I deeply feel what you’re going through.

    There’s so much we’ve done for folks in the name of protection and health, but oh. At SO much of a cost to spiritual and mental well-being.

    I haven’t yet been able to visit my mom since last January, but my fingers are crossed that the day will come soon.

    Glad you are home safe and sound.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a trek! And so much planning that you had to do, with food and testing and driving. It’s so good you were able to visit with your parents and help them get vaccine information. As a 78-year-old in New York City, I can verify that the state’s website is better than the city’s, and definitely better than some of the hospitals’ sites — but if you aren’t computer savvy, I know people who were on the phone for hours and still couldn’t get definitive information. I hope your parents are able to get the vaccine, and good luck to both you and them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am still trying to help them from afar. Things like having a joint email email address and shared phone number have hurt them during the registration process on some sites. Hopefully, I’ll get them in somewhere. My Dad seems to be able to handle the technology but has to do it for both himself and my mom. Good luck to you, as well!


  5. I’m delighted you had the opportunity to drive east to see your parents. That was a long overdue visit. (Was just talking to my mom’s first cousin the other day. She hasn’t seen two of her kids — who live 1,000 and 3,000 miles away, respectively — since Thanksgiving 2019 either.) Being apart is so incredibly hard.

    I wonder what all of us — who are being exceedingly careful — would’ve done differently in late 2019 and early 2020 if we knew this was going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. We used to take turns with the trips. for example one year they’d come here and the next we’d go there. But, as they’ve aged that doesn’t seem possible anymore. We found what we did very “doable” – even with testing, packing food, planning meals, and sleeping on air matresses. We plan to go again in the spring. It would be nice if they were vaccinated by then. I’m trying to help with that now. You ask a good question. I think there might have been some rearranged living accomodations or at least some visits before the quarentines started. Hind sight is always more clear! Take care, Stacey!


  6. Wow. I’ve not seen my parents since mid-October and probably won’t until I am vaccinated. I call them, check in via email and Facebook, but nothing is as good as a good old fashioned hug.

    They are both 76 and in relatively good health, but I know that being face to face in my school since August, going into their home simply won’t be an option. Thank you for sharing how your experiences went. It’s good to see people making it work out there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darin, my sister – who is a nursing instructor and assistant dean at UB College of Nursing has not been to visit my folks since the pandemic started either. She’s been fearful for the same reasons as you. It just doesn’t seem to be an option for her. She only lives 70 miles away from them, but because neither of us had seen them in close to a year, I felt it was more important to get there since we didn’t have the added exposure to students or co-workers. I hope you get to see your parents soon. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

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