Last month I confidently wrote about an upcoming solo trip I had planned and arranged on my own. I was unabashed in expressing the pride I felt in knowing that I was able to coordinate this 10 day journey involving three separate airplane flights, overnight visits in Idaho with both my younger brother and my older sister, a 2200 mile Amtrak Empire Builder rail adventure in two parts (with a four-day layover in Minot for a mini family reunion), and a Metra train connection from the Amtrak terminus at Union Station in downtown Chicago to O’Hare airport where I could arrange for a shuttle to my hotel before my early morning flight the next day back home to Maine. I spent many hours insuring that I had built-in enough flexibility in the event of delays (something that my research revealed were almost guaranteed to happen on the train), confirmed my airport layovers provided ample time to make my connections in the event arrival and departure gates were not within close proximity to one another, and packed light in one carry-on backpack, not only to avoid baggage claim but to be able to handle my luggage on my own between the various modes of transportation. I didn’t bring a purse, just a minimalist wallet that held my driver’s license, a couple of credit cards, and some cash. What could go wrong?
Turns out it didn’t take too very long to find out. My first flights went off without a hitch, landing right on time in Boise where my brother and sister-in-law were there to meet me. The plan was to stay two nights with them and then ride into work with Mark on Monday morning to his job at NNU. From there my sister Cheryl would pick me up and take me to stay at her new home in nearby Caldwell for two nights before we all caught a flight to Seattle to catch the Empire Builder. I made it to the University without a hitch, but my sister was unable to pick me up as planned. So my brother suggested I stay until his lunch break when he could drive me over to her house. And wouldn’t it be fun to play racquetball with him and a couple of his colleagues before the short drive to Caldwell. Although I had not played racquetball in many years, it had been one of my favorite pastimes in my younger years and I had been pretty competitive back then. I hadn’t brought any “gym clothes” but the casual shorts and t-shirt could work in a pinch and was wearing good running shoes that I imagined could double as court shoes. Mark assured me that his buddies, all younger, were just casual players. Again, my pride told me I could likely hold my own. Game on!
The first game my brother and I played singles. He easily beat me. Not only that, but during the game, I fell trying to make an over-the-back shot and landed squarely on my tush. It hurt, but not as much as my pride. When his friends had fished their game in the court next door and asked if Mark and I wanted to play doubles against them, we agreed to give it a go. In spite of all the guys playing with their off-hands, I was quickly coming to the realization that, at 63, I was nowhere near the player I was in my youth. I fell again, harder this time, in the doubles match. I tried to play on but now I began to hurt. I told them that after the next point, I would bow out and let them continue without me. Turns out I should have made that decision earlier. On that very exchange, I again tried to make an over-the-back shot and ended up falling awkwardly on my outstretched hand. It didn’t hurt all that much, but when I looked down at my arm, I knew immediately that I had broken my wrist. In spite of an evaluation by the on-site athletic trainer that a break was unlikely, a visit to a nearby orthopedic specialist (who just happened to be my nephew, my brother’s son) confirmed my suspicions. Surgery was arranged for the following day so we all could catch our flight to Seattle for the next leg of our journey.
The rest of the trip went as planned, albeit, somewhat less comfortably given the bulkiness of the splint I was required to wear and the post-op prescriptions. There were the anticipated train delays (about 8 hours in all), a 6 hour weather related delay out of Chicago, and a medical issue that prevented one of my elderly aunts from making the trip to Minot for the family gathering. I learned anew that you can’t control everything, but you can control how you respond when things don’t go as planned. My cast comes off next week -I hope!