Rain and a three day weekend. Those are the two inevitable forces we can’t avoid on Memorial Day Weekend. We must embrace, accept, honor, respect, and remember these weekends……even if some turn out to be just plain silly.
The 2014 Memorial Day has passed, and I can truly say I will remember the rain outside and the soup I made inside. Other than that, it was uneventful. No doubt about it, this holiday is a melancholy one for many, but it is also a time to embrace the family members and friends you may only see one time a year on this weekend of remembrance. For me, every Memorial Day seemed to bring some form of peaceful happiness. It also delivered an element of absurdity only a mother of thirteen can create.
Living in Spokane, Washington at the time, we were experiencing a terrible drought the week before one specific Memorial Day. This was disconcerting, because we had grown accustom to that annual deluge keeping us indoors. However, my brother, Tom, his son, Quinn, and I made an easy decision. We decided, after an invitation from our sister, Anne, to travel five hours or so to the Mecca of rain, Seattle, Washington. We had visited Anne before, but having never driven there ourselves, we required directions. My mother, choosing not to attend, provided my sister’s address. Easy enough. We get into the car with my brother, Tom, driving. His son, Quinn, all of about four years old, would be the navigator, (so to speak) and I, just along for the ride. My simple request was that we arrive safely at Anne and her husband, Minh’s house for a family rendezvous which included the best egg rolls west of Viet Nam. Estimated time of travel: Depending on Quinn’s overactive bladder and Seattle traffic, four and a half to five hours.
Heading west on Interstate 90, Quinn did a gallant job of keeping his Johnny in his jeans for the majority of the trip. Only two rest stops were required, and one was a bluff. After the first legitimate stop, he recognized even dilapidated rest areas maintained their vending machines. Yes, his second reason for stopping was shrewd, but it would be his last. We left him at the rest area. (O.k., that’s not true at all) Soon, we were over Snoqualmie Pass with no further delays, and we could almost hear the egg rolls cooking in Minh’s mid-day oil. Now, with the directions and address gripped firmly in his confident and sticky paws, we merely needed to let Quinn lead us to Anne and Minh’s. (Readers may ask why a four year old is navigating the car instead of me, a twenty two year old. That’s a legitimate question. As the eldest, and the driver, Tom required someone other than him to navigate. I was once lost in my own kitchen, and that was before we purchased a larger home. Does that answer your question?)
After passing through the city limits, Quinn communicated, with a slight lisp, the directions precisely as written. However, Tom and I both sensed something strange going on…….something was wrong. Tom looked at me and asked if the area looked at all familiar. He knew the thought had been crossing my mind when we entered the city of Redmond instead of Kent, Anne and Minh’s city of residence.
(as a disclaimer, I must admit only part of this next conversation properly took place. Although the subject, or meat and potatoes of the narrative is quite consistent, Quinn’s dialogue was the added gravy to an otherwise true story)
Me: Where the hell are we?
Tom: Quinn, where the hell are we?
Quinn: (almost offended) Exactly where the directions say we are supposed to be!
Tom: (using the same tact and delicate diplomacy I’d grown accustom to over the years) See, Ben, you idiot! My four year old son even knows where we are!
Me: Tom, do you even know where we are?
Quinn: Alright, knuckleheads, shut up and turn left here and follow the street to this address…..you two do know how to count, don’t you?
From years of playing cribbage, I had learned addition. Therefore, I could provide some assistance. Sure enough, we landed in the driveway with the proper numbers listed on its porch. However, although many of the neighborhood’s houses were quite similar, something appeared odd as we stared at the house for a minute before Quinn piped up again. “What are we waiting for?!” With squinted eyes and twisted upper lips, Tom and I looked at one another with abject puzzlement. Without saying anything, upon Quinn’s orders, we exited the Ford Ranger and slowly walked to the door. As if we were about to enter a haunted house, Tom looked at me and said, “Well? Are you going to ring the doorbell or not?” Shrugging my shoulders, I stated with some confidence, “I don’t think this is the right house.” But, I rang the doorbell anyway, and after five or so seconds, someone answered the door. Yes, we did indeed find my sister’s house. However, (and a big freaking however) it was the wrong house with the wrong sister. Our dear old mother, after lovingly giving birth to six girls and seven boys, steered us to the wrong daughter’s home. This was Patricia’s house.
Patricia: Ben, Tom! What the heck are you doing here?
Tom: Happy Memorial Day?
With a laugh, we cleared it up. Fortunately, Patricia and Anne only lived about a half hour apart. And, luckily for us, mom didn’t send us to see Teresa who was living in Spain or Dorothy who was living in California. Maggie was in Florida, and Mary was living in a motorhome down by some river. So, it definitely could have been worse.
When we finally arrived at Anne’s, she was merely shaking her head and laughing. (Notice, I didn’t say in disbelief. Stuff like this happens to our family all the time. It’s just usually not mom’s fault.) Before we could properly explain our Laurel and Hardy routine, we wished to get out of the inevitable rain, and stuff our mouths with a few hundred of Minh’s Memorial Day Weekend Egg Rolls, which were well worth the chaos.