Monday. CHELSEA, OK – CLAREMONT, OK – CATOOSA, OK – TULSA, OK – AMARILLO, TX
In spite of everything, I still believe that people are good at heart. — Anne Frank
We only cried a few times in Chelsea today. We went to breakfast at the Main Street Diner. Mismatched Mugs and Pies with lofty meringue. A paper towel rack proudly positioned in the middle of the table. As usual we got questions and ended up loving our servers, Margaret and Kathy. We gave them Patty bracelets and told them about our bucket list trip and our blog…and shortly thereafter Jayme, the owner’s daughter, came out to meet us and give us a bracelet too. Our bracelet gives our blog name and is purple, the color representing Pancreatic Cancer Awareness. Jaime’s bracelet is red, white, and blue and has the name of her sister and niece: Christy and Josie. Christy and Josie were killed in a car accident five years ago. Jaime struggled to express how much they meant to her.
Patty told us later, “They didn’t get time like we do to do things like this trip.”
We wanted a picture with these wonderful people and so Margaret and Kathy and Jayme, and Jayme’s mom, Pat (the diner owner, and mom to Christy who died in the accident) came out along with Kim and another staffer for a picture in front of the mural dedicated to Christy and Josie.
We’re not sure why but there seems to be a rainbow cutting across this picture..
They handed us a permanent marker and asked us to sign their Diner. The actual exterior wall of their diner. Patty is the first person who’s been asked to do so. She is wearing both bracelets in the picture.
We headed off with wet cheeks to see the Chelsea Underpass, the only underpass on Route 66, that was about two blocks away..but someone had called someone and now the “Chelsea Welcoming Committee” was enroute. Sure enough they pulled up when we had only walked about a block. Wilma and her grandson Parker (9yrs) hailed us from their car and parked quickly. They were so excited to see us! Wilma’s daughter Pam was on her way and had heard of us on Facebook! You’ve got to meet her they said! We begged Wilma to take our group picture with Parker in the middle of the quiet main street in town because Parker was one of the artists who had painted the underpass, but she thought it might not be lawful. However we’d made friends in the beer aisle last night at the Jiffy Mart. According to one of the patrons there the cashier “aint the law, his daddy is” so we weren’t too worried. I got the pic.
Parker’s mom, Pam, showed up with a gift of a t-shirt for Patty…Pam has been called the”Ambassador of Chelsea” by some…and she was in tears right away. It meant so much to her to see Patty…the rest of us all bought “Underpass” t-shirts which will be showing up in a blog near you someday soon.
Pam raced off to an appointment but her son and mom, Wilma, accompanied us to the underpass.
On the way a guy in a truck honked as he passed and yelled out the window, “Aint you the girls from Florida?” Guess he’d heard about us at the Jiffy Mart?
Parker is sweetness tucked into sneakers. So respectful and kind to his MiMi. To all of us too. We interviewed him about his work on the mural and learned that he spent about two weeks helping with the painting. He’s got a car that a family member has given him for when he is older that is in one of the murals that he painted, and he indulged us all as we gushed about his town and how nice everyone was..we signed the wall opposite the mural where folks from all over the world have shared their thoughts as they pass through this tiny town that you’d miss if you weren’t purposely trying to drive a road that really no longer exists. Route 66. The Sixty Sixtahs again left their mark.
as we approached our car and our goodbyes he poked his head into the Suburban and told us, “When I get home I’m gonna friend you on Facebook.” Hours later Pam texted me to ask how Patty was doing. Parker had been worried about her.
So off we went to the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore, OK. Papa Dan had recommended this stop as he’d logged lots of roads on Route 66 when he was a young salesman. The museum delivered. As we entered a sweet girl named Stephanie chatted with us at the front desk and learned about Patty and our trip.
An hour later she smiled as we left, and said she’s reading our blog. “You’re guys are pretty funny!” she said as we walked out to Sparky. She didn’t even know we were on our way to see the blue whale in Catoosa, OK.
We made a slight detour over to see the house in Tulsa where Jane and Patty and the rest of the Callaghans lived for a stint. Jane was born while they lived there, and Patty took her first steps there. We drove away so proud of ourselves and laughing and chattering until we got a response from Mama Betty when she got the text with the pictures. “That’s not the right house,” she texted. It was something about confusion with 32nd street and 32nd PLACE. Thanks Obama!
We looped back and got a picture in front of the right house this time. Before long were on the road again.
Our bucket list friend, Patty guides us from her spot in the front passenger seat. Who could have imagined that the best part of the trip would be the people who aren’t even mentioned in the books and maps? Did she know?
We drove another three hundred miles or so and entered Texas. The road is long and flat and straight. There are cattle ranches and large wind farms. Patti T loves the wind turbines. They are her “favorite” she says…which makes us all laugh. We had already noticed that the wind was quite strong as we drove through Oklahoma and Texas. Driving Sparky takes some actual effort as the gusts tend to shake our boxy black ride, and she eases back and forth in her lane a bit. Did you know that Texas (known by most of us as a big OIL producer) is actually the largest wind power producing state in the country producing about ten percent of its electricity through wind? Fun fact.
Well Texas also produced the Beverly Hillbillies…and like Jed who was told “Californy is the place you ought to be,” we’ll be moving on out of Texas tomorrow…toward New Mexico and then Arizona and to Californy later in the week.
We drove in to Amarillo finally at around 7:30pm, and it was 101 degrees and windy. The folks at the Country Inn and Suites had special Amarillo Pins for us and snack bags in our rooms! Texas hospitality.
We went in search of TEX-MEX. And we found it. And, of course, we found a new friend, our server Tyler from Amarillo. He’s following us now too, of course. His great aunt likes to travel too, and he thinks it’s great what we’re doing.
Today Patty spent some time up in the front of the car typing. She asked me to include this in the blog tonight. These are her own words.
July 12, 2016
Something very magical is happening along the Mother Road……it’s kind of hard to explain how every town has had people that have embraced us and shown how kind hearted people can be. We left Bradenton with the most warm hearted send off and it hasn’t stopped. Every stop has been filled with surprises and fun. But that’s not what it’s all about, it’s been about more. It’s the running up hugs, like these people have known us for years. Squeezes so tight! Cheeks so wet with tears! They’ve been following us on Facebook, Instagram, twitter and feel like they know us well enough to know why we’re doing this. This trip started out just as a trip…..with some great friends who bought into this bucket list week. Now we’re taking so many people along with us through social media and have made so many new friends. Some have been brought to tears. Many have apologized for crying…….all I can say t them “Don’t apologize…….we get it!” I’ve noticed more that this trip is about human kindness. I think if we all did a little adjustment…..just a little tweak to be kinder and more patient, the world would be full of human kindness. And like my famous pal Marcia Ball says, “when we open up our hearts, the light comes shining through…..human kindness flows from me to you.” That seems to be what we’re getting and receiving on this trip!
Fighting this fight is hard, it stinks. Somedays are harder than others, somedays I just want my life back but then I think about the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve been able to hug more and love more and talk to and encourage and support when they’re having a bad day. All that comes from these cards that I’ve been dealt. The chemo is brutal and makes me vomit. But I’m strong enough to take it….all 40 plus rounds. The payoff is time with my family and friends and trips like this that I never thought I’d get to do. People ask me all the time how I do this and I have to really think about it because there is no easy answer. I know I’m not a quitter or a whiner and I know I want to meet my grandkids and see more of what lies ahead for my family. My kids are amazing, so is my husband. Let’s hold on and ride the ride because I know…..I just know there are more laughs ahead! and cancer HATES laughter! Thanks for following along and experiencing this virtual trip! Your support, love and strength is what I need right now!
Blog note: Thank you to the Lakeland Ledger and Richard Dymond for their article http://www.theledger.com/article/20160710/NEWS/160719986/0/search?p=2&tc=pg in today’s paper.