As Disney season passholders, Steve and I can go to the park any day of the week, so we naturally choose weekdays, leaving about 3:30 p.m. so we have no traffic traveling either way. We generally buy deli sandwiches, or I make sandwiches and salad, pack my insulated lunch bag with a block of ice, and include string cheese and sugar-free jello. I put almonds, fruit, cookies and chips in a grocery bag large enough to include the lunch bag, and we rent a locker on Main Street for $7.00. We can then eat dinner whenever we want to for about a 1/4 of the price of two meals there.
Because I had felt compelled to make oatmeal-white chocolate-butterscotch-peanut butter chip cookies for some reason after grocery shopping and making a Mary Kay product delivery, and Steve had not answered his phone when I called to remind him to make sure he'd made his usual sandwich, and was dressed to go, it was already 3:15 when we pulled onto the 91 freeway. I thought about the park closing now at 9 p.m. and California Adventure, at 8 p.m. Four and one half hours would be enough time, since we go almost every week. Then something dawned on me! I said to Steve, "I forgot our lunch! Guess we'll have to get some cheap drive-through before we go into the park and eat it right away!We won't need a locker, then." $7 saved! But an unplanned stop would cause another delay getting to the park.
A little further down the road, I asked Steve to see that my regular glasses were in my purse, since I had on my Rx sunglasses. No glasses! (I'd been taking them on and off for reading and computer all morning, and they never seem to work as bifocals should!) NOW it meant that we would have to get home before it turned dark, meaning 7 p.m. Okay, now this was entirely too short of a time at Disneyland, even though we were tempted to go on, having reached the 55 split by that point. Another obstacle!
Do you ever have days like this? Everything just seems absurdly goofed up, and pointless. Well, Christians are told to "redeem the time" in Ephesians 5:16, so I said, "Let 's go see your brother Larry" (in a rest home in Orange) as I merged left toward the 55 south. Larry has been confined in a care facility for about a year with advanced Alzheimer's. We arrived at the location we last visited, but were unsure of the address. So I called his son Chad and was told that Larry had been moved a while back, and he gave me directions. Later, Larry's wife Michaele called me and said, so that Steve particularly could be prepared, that Larry is now confined to a bed and has lost control of the trunk of his body, so he can't sit up like he did when Steve and I visited him last. He sometimes doesn't even know his wife and son during visits. So sad, and I told Michaele how sorry I was to hear that, and sorry for what she as a wife of 27 years is going through. Tragedy, pain and suffering are what we humans experience in this fallen world, aren't they?
Makes me cry out in my spirit, "Come, Lord Jesus, and take your people home!"
Upon hearing the details of Larry's condition, Steve decided that he wanted to remember him as we last saw him, and so we headed north out of Tustin into full-on rush hour traffic toward home. We couldn't use our Fastrak because my gas tank was below a quarter, and once you get into that lane, there's no getting out. The electronic sign also said $8.30, the high rush hour toll rate.
Needless to say, after buying gas, the ride home was long and tedious, but we enjoyed former federal judge Mark Levin's radio program on election, governance and constitutional issues. We had been gone three hours almost exactly, which we could pinpoint by having heard his whole program by the time we pulled into our driveway.
What, if anything, had all that driving accomplished? Maybe a reminder not to juggle too many balls in the air while planning an outing; make sure Steve stays on task in the hours before we leave, and tape a checklist on the front door like I would if we were going on vacation. We high-energy types tend to think, "just one more thing," and then I'll run to the store, or pay bills, whatever. Many days, even today, oddly, plenty of home chores got done by both of us, and we had an outing of sorts, on a stunningly clear and beautiful day. So maybe that was the point for us--to get out and away together, just to get out of the daily routine. But there's a deeper lesson here!
I was tempted to think, "If we go visit Larry, the trip into Orange County will not have been a waste." But a visit to a severely incapacitated family member needs to be prayed over and planned for, especially with Steve in a vulnerable condition of fear about his own future. The Lord had me honor Steve's wishes in the matter, but I will need to plan a time to go visit Larry by myself. Even if his body and conscious mind can't give evidence of recognition, I know in his spirit he can realize he is loved and being prayed for. And some days he has good recognition, Michaele said.
We believers would all do well to practice the Three P's: pray, plan, and prepare! In that way, we can bless and be blessed!