Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blog Tour: Vacation To Graceland

Non-Fiction / Vacation

Date Published: 05/18/2015

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

A man, his mother, his sister, his granny, his niece, and his nephew make a trip to Memphis Tennessee for a family reunion. During the course of the trip, the family encounter a series of circumstances that mold the trip into an unforgettable experience. Through the arguing and internal bickering within the group, they come together and strengthen the blood bond they share with each other. Reflecting on each and every situation encountered, the man realizes the trip is an overall social, emotional, and educational journey.   

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The idea of a family trip started, when my mom devised a plan to take my granny on a weekend trip. This was difficult because my granny was on a weekly dialysis schedule, so my mom had to come up with a way to keep her schedule and transport her from one city to the next without any problems. My grandma had been on dialysis for the past 2 ½ years, and with her increasing age and decreasing health she needed more attention from care givers and family members.
The living arrangement in my mom’s house was setup like this. My mom, my sister Brandi, and my granny all lived there constantly. My other sister Crissy and her children did not live there, but they would visit often. I myself would visit quite often also. My job was 2 miles from my mom’s house so it was nothing for me to visit on my lunch break or when I got off work. My granny anticipated me coming over many times, so she would cook a meal for me, and place my name on the plate.It was not the perfect living arrangement, but it definitely had a strong family feel tied into it.
My granny kept close tabs on what my mom and sister was always doing, becausethat is just who she was. She still liked to get out the house ever once in a while. Herfavorite pastime was people watching. If there was one thing that she enjoyed, it wastalking about other people. This is a trait that has been handed down fromgeneration to generation, and I myself am guilty of doing it also. Discussing peoplein a humorous light that downgrades their physical appearance or personality issecond nature to me now. I can easily do it without any effort or stress. The thoughtsjust come to my head, and I let the mild form of slander flow. I have never beenembarrassed of this, and like me, my granny was neither.
Seeing that my granny did not like to be left out on a traveling experience, mymom knew that if she was to try to go anywhere out of town, she had to bring her. Ifmy mom left without my granny, then my grandma would shun her for not includingher on the trip. One time my mom did sneak out of town. She left with her bestfriend to plan the funeral of her friend’s brother. My mom knew it was going to be aproblem with my granny, so she did not tell her until she was already on the road.When my granny found out my mom left her, she threw a fit and started crying. Mysister Brandi tried to explain to her that the trip was for business and not pleasure, butmy granny did not care. She just knew that my mom was out on an adventure withouther.
Knowing all of this information, my mom knew the next time she left town that mygranny was coming no matter what. She called the dialysis center and my grandmawas scheduled for dialysis the day before they left for the trip, and the day afterthey returned home from the trip. My mom was not sure how everything wasgoing to work out, but solidifying my granny’s dialysis schedule was the mostimportant thing. Once that was done, then the trip as a whole was a green light.
One day while I was stopping by my mom’s house after I got off work, my momasked me if I wanted to go with her to a family reunion in Memphis Tennessee. I hadnever been to Memphis, so I agreed to it just for a new experience. My mom toldme that it would be $25 to attend the reunion and that my transportation and housingwould be taken care of. In my mind, I saw it as me having a free trip. I hadabsolutely no worries.
My mother and I had the conversation about the family reunion in late May. Iasked my mom what weekend I needed to take off of my job. She told me theweekend after the 4th of July, so I requested the days off and had it set in my mindthat I would be visiting Memphis at some point in time in July. When the month ofJuly was very close I decided to look at my job schedule to see if I had the rightdays off.
Somehow I managed to take off the wrong weekend. I noticed this mistake exactly 2weeks before the departure date. I immediately told my boss about my mistake andshe and I scrambled to get my shifts covered for the correct dates. Between the bothof us we were able to get the right shifts covered, and I did not have to lose the shiftI had originally taken off a month previously. I only had to take off one shift to makethe trip, but that one shift was enough to throw me for a spin.
After fixing my requested time off I decided to take the trip more seriously. Iasked my mom how we were going to get to Memphis and who all was going. Shetold me we would be driving in her Nissan Murano that was a 5 passenger SUV. Shethen told me the passengers of the vehicle would include her, my granny, my sisterCrissy, and her 2 children. One of Crissy’s children was 8 years old and the otherwas 6 years old. I immediately counted the number of people attending the trip onmy fingers. After I was done counting I noticed 6 people including myself would beriding in my mom’s SUV. I was confused seeing that her SUV comfortably holds 5people, and we were fitting 6 people into it. I asked my mom about the travelarrangements, and she got a whole attitude with me. She asked me if I wanted todrive my car, and that I was welcome to spend my money on gas if I wanted to. Thismade me mad, because I did not sign up for this. We lived in North County in St.Louis Missouri. The trip to Memphis was going to take us 4 ½ to
5 hours to reach our destination. I asked my mom how she thought that piling 6 peopleinto her SUV was a good idea. My mom told me that she had fit 6 people into herSUV before, and that my nephew Chaz does not take up that much space. I asked herwhere she went with the 6 people in her car. She told me that she went to OutbackSteakhouse. The Outback Steakhouse was at most 15 minutes from her house. Shelooked at me in my face and compared a 15 minute car ride to a 5 hour road trip.Now at this point I was no longer mad I was angry. I could not see how thiscomparison was valid, but somehow it made perfect sense to her. I told my mom Iwould look into getting a Mega Bus ticket, and I would get back with her on if Iwould be riding with them to Memphis. After that statement I decided to leave italone, because no matter how much I argued with my mom there was no way ofshowing her the error of her logic.
I just bided my time until it was the day of the actual trip. I did not successfullyfind a Mega Bus ticket because I did not look. I had all intensions of looking for aMega Bus ticket, it just did not happen. Now I was stuck in the crowded car full ofpeople. I could not complain because it was my fault. I still gave my mom a hardtime about the full car of people all the way up until the trip. Every time she heardme complain she would rebuttal by saying that I could drive if I wanted the leg roomthat the driver seat had. She knew I would decline, but I would entertain her requestevery once in a while. I knew there was no escaping the long and gruesome tip toMemphis that I was about to take.
On the actual day of departure my mom told me to meet at her house at 12:00noon. I was told Crissy had to work that day, and we were going to pick her upfrom her job downtown. After we got her, we would leave immediately from herjob and head towards Memphis. This sounded perfect to me. I got a good nightsleep, and packed my bag that morning. I was accustomed to packing, so the processof double checking my bag was effortless. The most important thing about packing ismaking sure you have a complete toiletry kit and one more pair of underwear andsocks than you actually need for the trip. I always carry at least one pair of longpants and one pair of shorts. I then make sure I have a jacket or a hooded  sweatshirt. You can look at the weather  forecast  all you want, but there is no guarantee  theweather will be like the forecast predicted upon arrival.
I dressed in some basketball shorts and a t-shirt. I also put on one of my mostcomfortable pair of shoes. I dressed like this because I am a firm believer thatwhile traveling you should travel as comfortable as possible. I made sure my phonewas fully charged, and that I had a pair of good headphones with me. There was noway I was going to be caught in an overcrowded vehicle without my headphones.That was not an option for me. I grabbed my bag and shoe box, then left myapartment and headed over to my mom’s house.
I had not gone on a family trip in years. It was mostly because I had gottenolder and grown into adulthood. I just wanted to travel with my friends more thanwith my family. Another reason was because my dad died of colon cancer 7 yearspreviously, so the trips I use to enjoy as a child could not be relived without himbeing there physically. My mom, dad, Brandi, myself and whoever else wanted totag along would go on a family trip once a year. We went to all types of places evenCanada. Once I became a teenager I started going on 2 week long hiking trips withmy dad through the Boy Scouts of America. This took the place of the traditionalfamily trips, but I was still with my dad. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer,all the focus went to him beating the disease. Once he died, we mourned as a familyand found a way to piece our lives back together. One of the ways of doing this waslearning to enjoy ourselves without him being around.
My mom, Brandi, and I lived in the house for a year adjusting to our new lifethen I left for college. While I was at college my mom told me she was getting rid ofmy room and my grandma was moving in. My granny was a widow also, so theloneliness both of them had could be subsided by each other and the company oftheir children. For my granny it was my mom, and for my mom it was Brandi.Before my granny had kidney failure and had to go on dialysis, my mom, Brandi, andgranny went on a trip to the Bahamas without me. They did not tell me until 2 daysbefore they left. My mom wanted to make sure the dogs were fed, and that I let themout to use the bathroom when they needed to go. This sucked because I wanted to go,but I was more concerned about making money at my job then spending time with myfamily in the islands. It was a decision I made, but I got over it. I assumed therewould be more trips, but my granny got sick and the whole idea of going on anotherfamily trip just vanished.
Now that my mom found a way to work around my granny’s sickness, I washeaded to my mom’s house trying to embark on a trip to Memphis. When I turneddown my mom’s street I noticed something that would set the tone for the entire trip.My mom lives at the bottom of a long street that ends in a cul-de- sac. Her house andabout 5 other homes form the cul-de-sac. As I drove down the street, I see mygranny joy riding on her scooter around the cul-de-sac. I had to dodge her on thescooter in order to pull into the driveway. The garage door was already up, so Ihoped out of my car and put my luggage in the back of my mom’s SUV. I then walkedin the house to see what was going on.
I was confused. My grandma was in the cul-de-sac riding her motorized scooterfor fun, and my mom was trying to make sure everyone’s luggage was properlypacked into the back of her SUV. My mom started sewing a couple of months prioras a hobby. She was really not all that good at being a seamstress, but she wasrapidly improving at her craft. She made an outfit for my 8 year old niece Bria towear, but it did not fit her right. Bria was modeling the outfit for my mom andBrandi when I walked in the house. They were trying to figure out how theycould fix the outfit, so she could wear it on the trip. After deliberation betweenthe both of them, they decided to go to K-Mart and buy Bria an outfit to replace theoutfit my mom had sewn together.
Once this decision was made my mom looked at me and said, “You and I aregoing to go to the store!” She said we are going to get what we need, then come backhome immediately. I agreed because I did not have a choice. My mom and I thenwalked to my car in the driveway. When we got to my car my granny pulled up onher scooter. The garage door was still up, and my granny told my mom that shewanted to take the scooter with her on the trip. My mom said, “Huh?” My grannyrepeated that she wanted to take the scooter with her on the trip. My mom thenlooked at me, so I took that as a clue to unpack the SUV and repack it with thescooter in the back of it. I broke down my granny’s scooter and took everything outthe back of the SUV. Good thing Crissy had already dropped her and the kid’sluggage off at my mom’s house the night before, so I knew how much stuff actuallyhad to go in the back of the vehicle. I packed everything back into the SUV with thescooter at the bottom, and it surprisingly fit.
When I was done my mom told me lets go before we run out of time. We stillhad to pick up Crissy
from work, and my mom did not want to be late. When my Granny heard my momsay let’s go, she asked where we going. My mom said to the store. Then my grannyasked if she could come. I immediately said no. Every time my granny goessomewhere with us it makes a 20 minute trip into an hour long trip. I knew this wasgoing to happen, so I tried to avoid it. My mom told me that I could not tell mygrandma no. She then told my granny to come on, and we all loaded into my car. Ishook my head because I knew what was about to happen.
During the drive to K-Mart we passed the liquor store. My granny pointed to itand said, “Stop! I got to get me some tickets.” My granny was addicted to scratch offtickets. She would win sometimes, but she mainly did it for recreation. She claimedevery 2 months that she was going quit, but then she would get the itch and had toplay her scratch off tickets. My mom told her no and that we would drop her off atthe grocery store to get her some tickets. Her plan was for us to drop her off at theShop N Save, and we would get what we needed from K-Mart. Then we would pickmy granny up from Shop N Save. This plan made sense because the Shop N Savewas in the same plaza as the K-Mart. This enabled us to kill two birds with onestone. I told my mom it was a scratch off machine in K-Mart, but she insisted it wasnot. I did not argue with her because I was not 100 percent sure myself. I droppedmy Granny off at the Shop N Save then my mom and I went to the K-Mart.
When we entered the K-Mart my mom went to the clothing department to findsome clothes for Bria. I went to the outdoor section to find some bug spray.Apparently when my mom went to Memphis 10 years ago, the place where we werehaving the barbecue had a really bad tick problem. Brandi told me I needed to find abug spray with a higher than regular percentage of deet in it. I searched the outdoorsection of K- Mart for about 10 minutes before I found the bug spray. I calledBrandi to confirm I was getting the correct bug spray then I set out to find my momin the clothing department. When I found my mom she was already in the checkout line.She did not text or call to me to tell me she was done. She just hopped in line andwaited on me to find her.
I joined my mom in line, and put the bug spray with the items she was purchasing.When we made it to the cashier, the cashier informed my mom that she had $50 inreward points. My mom started talking with me how Crissy could use the money onschool supplies for my niece and nephew. I listened to her to be courteous, but I didnot really care. I was ready to pick my granny up and get the road trip started. Mymom made her purchases then we started to leave the store. While we were nearingthe door I saw a scratch off machine for the Missouri lottery. I told my mom I knewK-Mart had a scratch off machine, and my mom looked at the machine and laughed.She then stated my Granny would not have liked the tickets in it anyway. I looked atthe tickets inside the machine and I reluctantly agreed with her.
My mom and I got back to my car and drove up to the Shop N Save. My grannywas sitting on the bench outside the store waiting on us to pick her up. She had alreadyscratched off all the tickets she purchased. She threw away the losers and put thewinners in her handbag. After I helped my grandma get into the SUV we went back tothe house. We were gone for about 50 minutes. It was not quite an hour, but it waspretty close. I did not complain. I just rolled with the blows and kept on moving.
Upon  arriving  at the house  we double  checked  we had everything  we needed for the trip. After everything was checked my mom told everyone to get in the SUV.Chaz was eating some ice cream out of a cup when my mom said this. Because hewas eating some ice cream, Bria wanted to eat some ice cream. Chaz was nearly done eating so Brandi told Bria no. She told her she had to leave with us, and there wasno time for her to eat any ice cream. My mom did not allow Bria or Chaz to eat in herSUV, so if Bria did not already have the ice cream then she was not going to get it.This conversation between Brandi and Bria happened in the garage next to mymom’s SUV. Shortly after Brandi told Bria no, my granny walked out the house witha plate of ice cream eating it. My mom and Brandi looked at her with the same look.It was the look that she knew better than to be eating ice cream in the SUV also.My mom saw my granny
then said, “Dang! We got to wait for her to finish her ice cream.” She told Bria she could go get some ice cream, and we waited for everyone to finish their helpings.When everyone finished their ice cream we set out on the road to pick up Crissyfrom work.
Brandi decided not to go with us on the trip. She told me she was going to have the house to herself, and have plenty of alone time. Brandi was happy she did not have to watch Chaz, Bria, or my granny. I asked her before we left if she could wash my car. She actually agreed without any extra incentive, and I thanked her in advance. I personally hate when people make plans for me on my off days, so Iknow Brandi being my sister is the same way. Brandi did not work or go to school.She was strictly a caregiver for my grandmother. Crissy would use Brandi to babysit and help with Chaz and Bria when it was convenient for both of them.Between all this babysitting and being a caregiver, this trip provided a nice vacation from responsibilities for her. All Brandi had to worry about was having the house clean when my mom returned home, and now making sure my car was washed.

Phillip Cornell is a college graduate. He gained his degree in Biological Sciences, and currently works at a local pharmacy.  He is the only son of Harron and Connie Cornell, and the youngest of 3 children. In 2006 his father passed away due to colon cancer, and his mom became an inspiration to him and his family in the way she supported everyone. He has a passion for all types of competitive activity, with sports being the favorite. Overall he lives for different experiences to stimulate the mind, and firmly believes that life is something that has to be lived, read about, and dissected. His biggest weakness is beautiful women, and the thought of being a failure. Firmly believing everyone deserves their moment no matter how long or short it is, Phillip listens to anyone who has something to say. The more he writes. The more he realizes what he creates, is something that needs to be shared with someone other than himself. 

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