Our son Jim, in Springfield, told us some months ago about a “Concert” he was singing in on December 7. He invited us to attend. Of course, by the end of October, Mom had gone to be with Jesus in Heaven, and that left just John, Tonya and me to attend. We sort of tentatively planned on it.
At about the middle of November, it became obvious that John and Tonya couldn’t go, because they were so busy, and John would be in California. This almost precluded my going, since the 250+ miles to Springfield was too far for me to be comfortable driving, at my age. I told Jim.
Just before I went to Florida for Thanksgiving with our Grand-daughters Jodi and Kelly and families, Jim called and said, “Dad, I’m going to try to find SOME way for you to get down here for December 7 - even if I have to drive part way to meet you.”
That set me to thinking. Is there some way I could go down by myself? While considering and praying over that, I thought of a bus ride. Would that work?
So, I called a bus company, and discovered that there was a bus leaving South Bend, that could take me to Toledo, with a change for Dayton - near Springfield. I was used to South Bend, since I had taken the Commuter Train there several times. I like that. So….a bus ride was what I wanted.
In the middle of November, I took the train to South Bend and bought my ticket, for leaving on a Friday.
What I failed to consider was that on the week-days, train trips from home to South Bend were not available in the AM (my bus was to leave at 10:15). They all go to Chicago in the morning. So that meant I had to ask John to take me to South Bend. “No problem.”, he said.
So, I scheduled a Friday departure, with a Monday return. After messing up the train schedule to leave, I made sure I could take the train from South Bend to home on Monday.
On Friday, December 5, John happily took me to the South Bend Airport where the Bus Station was, and I left for Springfield. The trip to Toledo was uneventful - we stopped in eastern Indiana for lunch, took the Indiana Toll Road, then the Ohio Turnpike to Toledo.
When about 50 miles from there, I had the happy thought of maybe seeing our niece Karen, whom we hadn’t seen since I officiated at her mother’s funeral in 1992. She’s the daughter of Jean’s sister, Leah.
So, intrepid Senior Citizen that I am, I have a Cell Phone (doesn’t everyone?), so I called Karen to ask her if she could meet me at the bus station during my 2 ½ hour layover, for a little fellowship after 16 years. She said she would try, if she could get someone to stay with Ramon, her 45+ year old son with MS, whom she cares for all the time. Then, at about the same time, we both got the idea of a Taxi for ME to go to see HER. While I was thinking about that, she called back and said she would “call a cab” to pick me up.
Right on time, the Checker Cab pulled in to the station, and the driver wanted to know if my name was Maddex. I answered, “Sure is. Gonna take me to Karen’s house?” “That’s what I’ve been told,” the driver said.
I was relieved to see the driver, a congenial female, had a GPS unit on her dash. She COULD get me to Karen’s - I thought. (GPS - Global Positioning System, if you didn’t know.)
We took off for Karen’s house. We drove and drove, then she began looking at street signs, seemingly unaware of where she was going. I finally asked her if she could really get me there, or if I should call Karen, or better, use my OWN GPS on my phone.
She reset her GPS, and said she could get there. After awhile, I heard the GPS person say, “Turn right at the next intersection”. I felt more secure. We finally made it. Karen met us at the door, took my luggage, and promptly paid the driver before I could get my money out of my pocket. (I at least paid the tip.)
Early arriver that I am, I told Karen that I would only have about an hour. She and Ramon fondly greeted me, and Karen made Tacos. We had a wonderful time of fellowship, joined later by her youngest son, JC.
Near the hour, Karen said she wanted to take me back to the bus. She began wondering if, after several years of not traveling around the city, she still knew how to get to the Bus Station. I spoke up and said, “Let’s use my GPS.” That we did, and arrived at the station WELL ahead of the required time.
I thanked Karen for the fellowship, tacos and ride to the station, and kissed her good-bye. She said, “I’m not leaving you here by yourself with that ‘guy’ standing around here.” She indicated that this was not the best part of town. Shortly, the "guy" left, but she stayed until my bus arrived, and was announced as going to Dayton.
Before long, several of us lined up by the exit door, preceded by a lady in a wheel chair, waiting to get on the bus. I found out that she was going to Texas - BY HERSELF.
Shortly, and right on time, the driver took the ticket of the “wheel chair lady”, and pushed her out toward the bus. He didn’t come back for the longest time. So, a couple of my soon-to-be fellow passengers, looked out the door, and saw the driver was “trying” to get the hydraulic lift of the bus to lift the wheel chair. They worked and worked - time to leave having passed by. One of the passengers asked what was going on, and was told that they were trying to fix the lift. After another long while, the “Wheel chair lady” came back in, followed by the driver. He was on his cell phone, apparently trying to get another bus - while we waited, and waited.........and waited.
Another bus came. Those passengers, not having a wheel chair, were shifted to our defective bus, then the wheel chair was wheeled out again, and it looked like we might be leaving shortly - in the second bus. After the same amount of time, she came back in again, and the driver said he needed a THIRD bus! By now, it was over 2 hours since we were supposed to leave. I called Jim, and he said he’d drive to Toledo to pick me up. There was some concern that either or both of the Toledo and Dayton bus stations would be closed before we even left. I reported in to John at home.
What to do?
I called Karen, reporting what was happening and she said, “I’m coming down there to pick you up. Jim can get you at my house. You’re not staying in that station by yourself.” (Oh, the wonderful, loving concern family members have for an old man.)
Just as we might be doing that, as well as having Jim pick me up, the THIRD bus arrived. (The first one had long gone, with its new passengers, to Detroit.) I told Jim and Karen to stand down, until further word from me.
In not too long a time, the driver said he was ready to load us up - after re-loading the passengers from the THIRD bus (are you following here?). At 2 ½ hours late, we loaded onto a bus - for Dayton. I then called Jim, Karen and John to tell them that we were on the bus.
I was one of the last to board - along with my fellow-passengers AND those transferred from the second defective bus. Kidder that I am, after entering the aisle, I looked up and said - rather loudly, “Are all you folks going to New York?” Blank stares - maybe nervous laughs. After a beat or two, I said, “Just kidding. I’m going to Dayton.” Now they laughed.
I wasn’t finished. When we arrived at Dayton, over 2 hours late, as I was at the end of the aisle, I said, “I’m gettin’ off here. Ya’ll have a nice trip to N’Yawk now, ya heah?” Utter panic (I hoped) - though maybe they knew me by then. (Naughty, Naughty!)
Silver lining? Jim picked me up in Dayton, and I didn’t even forget to get my luggage off the bottom of the bus. Almost did, though. I was in Jim's car when I remembered it.
Oh, I just remembered. When we arrived at Dayton, there was a bus there that the crew was trying to get its wheel chair lift to work - unsuccessfully. Three in one night? Really!
Hebrews 10:36 “`For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”