I’ve been back in the mountains this week with my daughter and her boys. Grandpa Billy was up over the weekend, but bailed out of all the fun on Monday morning. Important things to handle at the office, of course. By that time we already knew that our week wasn’t going to happen as planned. But then, when does it ever. You’ll have to stick with me here as I explain the craziness that seems to be my job description these days.
Ashlee and I had planned this particular outing months ago. Fall in the North Carolina mountains is just spectacular, with gorgeous colors and fun festivals. In our neck of the woods there is the Woolly Worm Festival, a downright adorable event held in Banner Elk on the third weekend in October, which is usually peak leaf peeping time. It revolves around a cute little worm/caterpillar who, according to mountain lore, predicts the severity of the winter by how his black and orange stripes are arranged. Or something like that. Anyway, our family has great affection for this small-town, quirky celebration. We’ve been going for years, and Ashlee was looking forward to taking her boys.
So she took a week of vacation with the plan that we would come up for about 8 days and just hang out with the kids. We originally thought my brother and family would join us for the main weekend, but then found out that Raymond and Jesse would be flying to Texas for the wedding of close friends. No problem, Billy would bring Sebastian, my nephew, up for the festival. And, oh yeah, their dog Sophie. No big deal that we already had Ashlee’s dog, Holly. (As I’ve written previously, we seem to have become the family dog keepers.) It would be madness with three kids and two dogs, so we decided that the great-grands would probably be better off skipping this one.
The first complication that arose was that Ashlee found out she would need to travel for work for a week immediately after our mountain trip. Meaning the boys would be with me non-stop for two weeks, which is a lot for this NeaNea. But, ok, I would manage with a little more coffee and a strategic glass of wine or two. We came up last Friday and all was fine for a couple of days. On Saturday we took the kids to our favorite country candy store and the park nearby, and on Sunday we took them to an Alpaca Farm. All fun and perfect for busy little boys. And then late Sunday Ashlee got the message that she would need to fly to Florida on an emergency business trip. She was totally bummed-out but we figured I could stay in the mountains with the kids for a couple of days while she did her duty, and be back in time for Woolly Worm. But then….on Monday morning I found out that my father had taken a fall that required an emergency room visit and stitches in his leg. He would need to go for wound care everyday. My brother was on top of it but he was leaving Thursday, which meant no one would be in town to follow up with Daddy, and I just didn’t feel good about that. I also didn’t think Billy should have to stay home and do it while we frolicked in the mountains.
After many conversations with Ashlee and Billy, our plan took a new path. I would stay with the boys and Holly for a couple of days, Ashlee would take her business trip, and when she flies in on Thursday she will pick up Sebastian and bring him up to the mountains for a night. (We felt bad to deprive him of any fun.) Sofie will stay home with Billy, who will also do Daddy duty on Thursday. We will take all the boys to our favorite pumpkin patch and corn maze on Friday morning, then make our way back to the city sometime late Friday, with Sebastian staying with his cousins for a night. No Woolly Worm Festival this year, but then I will have a couple days to tend to my parents before having the boys for another week.
Are you exhausted just reading all that? Me too. How did life get so complicated? What was supposed to be a relaxing week in the mountains has turned into a logistical nightmare. But such is the life of the sandwich generation. At any given moment someone in my family will have an urgent situation that requires my help and/or presence. It’s just the nature of the beast. I’m focusing on just being grateful that Daddy wasn’t more seriously injured, and that Jesse is well enough to travel. I’m grateful that Ashlee has a great job, and though it requires travel, still allows her to remain close to family. I’m eternally grateful for a husband who is patient and understanding to a fault. Our original plans may have been a flop, but I’ve become the master of Plan B. Or C or D. Now, just let me make another cup of coffee.