Heading to Birmingham:
We were looking forward to Birmingham because Riverchase Galleria had been really great taking in the National Angel Quilt, and tying it to the unveiling of their newly refurbished carousel in Center Court. Their carousel has been in San Fransisco since January and their center court has been under construction. The Marketing Director at Riverchase Galleria arrranged to have the re-opening of the carousel benefit kids cancer research through Make Some Noise! The media coverage on the carousel had been building and the National Angel Quilt and kids cancer was tied to it. This was a great opportunity for us to share the story of childhood cancer.
Having gotten back to our hotel room in Ft. Worth from the Seattle Flight at midnight Wednesday night, I was hoping to sleep in a little on Thursday morning. Mom said the drive to Birmingham would be about 12 hours because we have to stop for gas a lot with the heavy trailer. We had thought we would be setting up in Birmingham at mall close at 9pm on Thursday. This meant we should leave Ft. Worth by 8:30am or so; but Chris, (the Marketing Director at Riverchase Galleria in Birmingham), said that it would be best to set up in the morning on Friday because there was still a fair amount of construction going on in center court that night. This was great news to me because I took it as a chance to sleep in.
Mom let me sleep until around 10:30am then I got up to shower and pack. We checked out, loaded up and were on the road around noon. This would put us in Birmingham around midnight.
The car was all cleaned up by the fabulous Wade-Brigade, and we hit the road! It was 105 degrees. I was glad to have air-conditioning.
We got onto Rt. 20, and hoped to be in Birmingham by midnight. About 15 minutes outside Ft. Worth, a reporter named Jeh Jeh, from FOX 6 in Birmingham, called to schedule a 6:30 am interview for the next morning. OK, we better hope we don’t get in too late because getting up at 5:30 am would be hard given how little sleep we’ve had. While I was talking to Jeh Jeh, from FOX 6, our A/C stopped working. It was only blowing hot air. Mom and I don’t know too much about cars, so don’t laugh if our thinking and problem sloving on this is deeply flawed, but being foreigners to the world of car mechanics, we just stumbeled through options and possibilities.
We thought “not cooling” could mean no coolant, and wondered if no coolant could lead to engine overheating. We didn’t want to risk frying our engine, so we got off at the first exit possible to check the coolant level and add more. We stopped at a gas station, and they did sell coolant. Mom checked the owners manual to find the location of the coolant reservoir, opened the hood and looked at the coolant level. It was a little low, but more than half full. So, not a coolant issue. Riding 12 hours in 105 degree weather with no A/C wasn’t a great option, so we decided it was worth a little time to investigate further to see if it could be resolved without taking too much time and to be sure we wouldn’t hurt the car and wind up in worse trouble. She remembered that Maddeson Tersinar’s dad is a Toyota dealer in Cedar Rapids, (to read Maddeson’s story, go to my blog pages on Iowa), so she called Mr. Tersinar for thoughts on what could be wrong, and whether it would be safe to drive on to get to Birmingham on time to set up the quilt and meet FOX 6. He went to his service team and they suggested we get a freon boost to get us to Birmingham, and then get it looked at in Birmingham. OK, so a freon boost should solve it. We were too optomistic. We found a Firestone, and the guy was grumpy and said he wouldn’t check the freon and do a boost. That was helpful. We then searched for a Toyota dealer. We found one only 10 minutes away, and mom called them to see if they could do a freon boost. They were much more accomodating and said they could and would get us back on the road to Birmingham as soon as possible. We went to the Toyota service department, and mom also asked them to top off all the fluid levels. Ater a fair wait, mom went to ask timing and progress. They told her that it wasn’t the freon. There was plenty of freon. They said it must be either the clutch or the compressor, and it would take a day to get the parts. Well, waiting a day was not an option. Roasting in a hot car on Rt, 20 for 12 hours wasn’t terribly appealing, but it looked like it was the only way to get to Birmingham on time. The cause is more important than our comfort, so we would just have to deal with it. Mom double checked with the Toyota service guy to be sure that regardless of whatever was wrong with the A/C, we wouldn’t hurt the engine driving it to Brimingham.
They said the car would be fine. So at 3:30 pm we finally got back on Rt. 20. This would be a long, hot day.
Mom stopped at the next off ramp to get us a bucket, ice, and washcloths to keep cool on the drive. She filled the bucket with water and ice and I was in charge of resoaking the cloths in ice water for the rest of the trip. Windows down, and iced cloths around our necks, we drove through Texas. Eastern Texas was mainly brown fields of dried up grass and cows trying to find shade under trees. I could sympathize.
As we got closer to Lousiana, we started seeing old oil derricks. The ambulance chaser billboards were different than the ones at home in NJ. I eastern Texas and Western Louisiana, they read: “Oil Rig Injury?” There was even a picnic stop with oil derrick type structures over the picnic tables. We didn’t stop though because at best we would be getting in at 3:30am, with a 6:30 am interview. We pressed on through the heat. We got to the Mississippi river and crossed into Lousiana.
Mom had planned to take a side trip to New Orleans to show me where she lived as a kid, and get some crawfish, beignets, jambalya, and hear some jazz and zydeco. Because of the necessary and unavoidable trip to Seattle this week, that had to be cancelled. She was sad about that when we got to Lousiana and I was sorry to not get to see New Orleans myself.
The first town was Shreveport. It looked to me that Shreveport gets its revenue from oil and gambling.
Lousiana looked greener than Texas, and by now it was cooler too, only 95 degrees, but the car was still really hot because the engine heat was coming at us. It was dark by the time we hit Mississippi, and since we had the sun roof open, I leaned back and looked at the stars. There were a lot of stars and I enjoyed it. Being alive is a gift.
We got to Alabama around 1:30 am or so, I think, I feel asleep by then. We arrived at the hotel in Birmingham around 3:45 am, and got to the room at 4 am. We set our alarms to be sure we were awake in an hour and a half to shower and get to the FOX interview and set up the quilt.
It was a long hot day, but we had made it.
Meet our Alabama Angels:
Lindsey was a funny, spunky and loving “girlie-girl”. She loved all things pink and purple. She loved to draw and paint. She loved to play punch-bug, hide and seek and loved peace signs. She had a wonderful imagination and a very loving heart. Lindsey was always a happy, healthy child. On 4-13-10, at the age of 5 years old, everything changed. After a few months of very mild symptoms and a discussion about our concerns during her 5-year-old check-up, a C/T scan was performed. We were told that Lindsey had a tumor in her brain-stem and it was inoperable. DIPG was her official diagnosis. We were told it was terminal and that despite our best efforts, she would not survive. As a family we were blessed to enjoy 16 months together after her diagnosis. We enjoyed many outings, trips and lots of cuddle time. Even as she began to lose all control of her body, she still blessed us with her sweet personality and several laughs daily. On 8-18-11, after a 68 day inpatient hospital stay, she passed away in her mother’s arms. She leaves behind a mother, father and her only brother whom she called “Bubba”; along with many other family members and friends to mourn her passing. Her smile, laugh and silly personality will always be missed. She will be remembered and loved until the day we are able to join her in our heavenly home.
Robbie Tidmore was 15 when he got his angel wings. He bravely fought (as they all do) that devil called leukemia for 5 years. He finally caught a glimpse of Heaven, and didn’t want to call this world “home” anymore. But Robbie wouldn’t want to be remembered for his valiant fight with his disease. Robbie’s friends would tell you that he was a sweet boy and a good friend that would always listen to your problems and try to make you smile. He tried to be happy and live a normal life amidst his pain. Robbie loved to hunt and fish with his stepbrother and stepdad, who lovingly called him “speedy” because the medicine made him move so slowly at times. He loved his Jesus and believed and trusted Him for his healing. It came, just not in the way we all wanted. Robbie loved to play Little League baseball and played up to the last summer, even though he could barely swing the bat or run the bases. His friends and teammates did it for him, so he could be part of the team. Robbie was a football manager for 6 years, and when he could no longer carry the coolers or run the football, the coach let him be the “head manager “and tell the others what to do.( Living in a small town has it’s advantages.) Robbie has been missed every day for 15 years as a son, brother, grandson, nephew. And as his mother, I wait eagerly to see him again…