Thursday, April 29, 2010

A trip cancelled

What do you do when your trip of a lifetime gets cancelled?

After our wonderful biking trip with VBT in France, Tom and I dreamed of taking a similar trip in Italy.

We just had to wait for the kids to grow up.

Finally in 2009 with three girls in college and only TJ at home we were ready to go.

A full year in advance we asked my lovely sister, Cally, if she would stay with TJ in October 2009 so Tom and I could bike Italy.

For a full year I studied Italian.

By the way, if you want to learn a language, I highly recommend the Living Languages book/cd sets and a personal internet tutor.

It helps when you have to ask for directions!

I counted down the days till October 20, 2009.

I scheduled tours of Florence and Rome to fill the time before and after the biking trip.

We watched Italian movies.

As usual, VBT had a wonderful itinerary.

We would bike the Tuscan coast staying in lovely little inns, meeting local people and adventurous fellow travelers.

We would eat wonderful dinners and picnics.

There is nothing better than a VBT trip to Europe!

Finally the day of departure.

Cally brought our parents down to Indy from Chicago.
In their late 80s my Mom and Dad live half the year in Chicago near Cally and half the year in Indy.

Their minds are sharp and they spend most of their time following every sport on television and playing Facebook Scrabble.

I stopped in to see them and asked Mom what she would like from Florence.
"A silver necklace from the Ponte Vecchio" she answered immediately.

With a quick kiss on the cheek, we were off.

Tom and I had a wonderful two days in Florence Italy.

It rained.

But what the heck!

We saw the David...
...the Duomo.

We had a wonderful walking tour of the city.

We shopped for handmade leather gloves for the girls and necklaces for Mom and Cally on the famous old bridge that even Hitler wouldn't bomb.

The food was wonderful.
And I so enjoyed using my Italian.

Our last night in Florence we went out for a romantic dinner, glass of wine, stop at the corner store for a gelato...walk home hand in hand.

The next day we would meet with the bike group and bus over to the family farm where our bike adventure would begin.

We found our little hotel tucked away near the Santa Maria Novella...up the stairs, turned on the light and saw a note on the bed.

My heart stopped.

"Helen," my sister had emailed to the hotel, "Your kids are okay. But Mom is dying."

I don't remember the rest of the letter. I just remember being stunned. Mom was the one we always expected to make it to 100. She was so tough!

But she had been feeling under the weather. Cally took her to see the doctor after we left. The MD found a high potassium and admitted her to the hospital to lower it. That night she crashed. Her heart stopped. Kidneys went into failure.
Multi-system organ damage.
The doctor said to call in the family.

I called home in tears...
Mom was unconscious.
Things looked bleak.
Continue your trip, Dad said, Mom would want you to. There's nothing you can do here.

Baloney. Tom and I were on the next flight back home to Indiana.
I asked my doctor brother, Nic - is there any chance she will be alive when we get there? I have a necklace to give her.

Nic, said, There's a chance she'll be alive, but it's very slim.

Here's where the trip insurance comes in.
Yes, we had insurance.
Thank goodness!

We called the number in the front of our travel booklet.
That was all.
They found us the next flight back to the states.
They cancelled the rest of our trip for us.
They asked us to keep receipts for any additional expenses.

And they got us home.

There's a happy ending here.

Mom pulled through!
She is a tough old bird!

She will be on dialysis the rest of her life.

She and Dad have moved to Zionsville Meadows where they watch sports and play internet Scrabble.

I hear Mom got 123 points for making the word equator last week.

And the travel insurance gave us a check for 1/2 the trip cost - since we did get 2 days in Florence and the flight home.

That money is in the bank waiting for another year when Tom and I can bike in Italy...

...after I bike America.
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