Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Birthday and Getting Stranded

In mid April I flew back to Wisconsin for what should have been a 5 day visit with my Dad and sister and other family members. The occasion was my father’s 90th birthday. My father is in very good health overall; he has lost some significant portion of his eyesight to macular degeneration  and has been troubled by increasing pain due to arthritis in his knees and spine, but he and his wife live without aid in their own apartment and still are active in their neighborhood senior center, playing cards, darts and shuffleboard.
The party was supposed to be a surprise, but I know he was suspicious that something was up. He had guessed that we had planned to have a small party with my sister and I and maybe one or two couples they were friendly with at the Senior Center. Instead, he walked in to see a roomful of 40 people.  Two grandchildren and their families (including his two great-grandchildren) had flown in from Virginia and Mississippi and another old friend and his wife had flown in from their winter home in Arizona. There were a lot of family members and a large group of their friends. It was a wonderful group of people and a wonderful party.

The birthday party was April 16, the day after the Icelandic volcano blew up and shut down European airports. Originally set to return to Sarajevo on April 18, Lufthansa wouldn’t reschedule me until my flight was officially cancelled. By the time I could reschedule, the earliest flight I could get was April 23.
My sister works for a hotel, so I was getting a very attractive room rate, but I didn’t want to keep running up my bill, so I moved into the spare room in my dad’s apartment. I had my laptop with me so I could finish work on the May issue of my publication, the Oak Hills Oracle, but I didn’t have the right cable to hook up to the internet connection they had. To check my email and do any online research, I had to use my dad’s 10 year old Gateway computer. It was only possible to endure if I had plenty of reading material on hand while I waited - and waited - for the little ball to stop spinning. 

I was far more fortunate than many other stranded travelers, some of whom were stuck in airports, or in strange cities where they just had to watch their hotel bills increasing. It was a blessing to have the extra time with my father and I could help them out with some chores. I did the vacuuming, I moved some large potted plants, and I cleaned up their small patio and the chairs so they can enjoy the spring sunshine.

My return to Sarajevo was just in time. I unpacked, then repacked. I was off for a trip to Poland on April 25.