Finding a new home for my daughter, Marie, and her caretakers has been very challenging. After the disappointment of not being able to purchase a cool mobile home, I went apartment searching and found the perfect one. Marie and her caretakers filled out the application from Louisiana. A deposit was given and all seemed well.
The original plan was for me to fly down to New Orleans, help them pack up, and fly back with them all. However, this whole COVID-19 had me spooked. Feeling impending doom like the rest of country, fear engulfed me, and I chose to fly down and drive them back as soon as possible.
The flight down was uneventful. Many people wore surgical masks, but I knew that there was no need to wear one because I was asymptomatic, except for the occasional sneeze due to allergies. With an almost empty airplane, I languidly laid across the two empty seats next to me and slept all the way down. Arriving at the New Orleans airport amid palm trees reminiscent of Florida, it was an easy hop, skip and a jump to the rental car facility where a luxurious, 15-passenger van awaited me with a full tank of gas.
Driving to their home definitely needed the use of a GPS, especially because it was at night and the area was very unfamiliar. Negotiating the unlit roads was a challenge, and the rural nature of the area couldn’t help but evoke visions of horror movies my daughter had insisted I watch with her in the past. Finally arriving at their address according to the GPS, seeing through the rain and the foliage made it difficult to spot their house, (and I use the word “house” loosely.) Backing up into their muddy driveway, the back tires of the van sunk into the ground. My daughter and her caretakers were ready at the door with their belongings. Giggling, Ava and Marie excitedly greeted me with two cases of toilet paper they had purchased, along with a few bottles of Diet Coke for me. Then, up to their ankles in the mud, they made swift work of loading the van. The only piece of furniture there was room for was a special crib Ava’s church had donated for her six-month-old daughter. This item was a “must,” even if they left other belongings behind.
Briefly looking around the abode, it was noticeable that the windows were missing and swathed with blankets to keep the cold and bugs out. The floor was covered in plywood to prevent the animals from crawling in through the holes, and the ceiling was covered in mold. I could see several different types of bugs, and involuntarily began to itch the back of my neck. Shuddering, I wondered what would have possessed my daughter to choose to live like this, but then realized that these people were her FRIENDS. She explained that her whole life she had tried to be nice to people to make friends, but had never been successful until she met Ava. Ava, a red-headed young woman who is deaf, was a great friend to her, and the value of that relationship surpassed their physical surroundings.
The van was packed to the hilt with important stuff. The pots and pans, crock-pot and coffee pot, dishes and silverware were left behind, easily replaceable. It took everyone’s strength to push the van out of the mud. Then, into the darkness and rain, I drove with an anxious family sitting in the seats behind me. They were leaving the only home they ever knew, this rural area of Louisiana. One by one, they fell asleep with exhaustion, leaning on each other as a pillow, reminiscent of an old Three Stooges show where they were leaning against each other while asleep, snoring, and then simultaneously changing positions to face the other way. They looked so peaceful as they slept, which warmed my heart in encouragement for the long drive back to Rhode Island.
The story of the trip continues next week.