What was the FUNNIEST part of your journey?
OK, so I've flown into NYC with plans. Things I want to see and do -- and it's raining cats and dogs. A real frog-strangler of a rain. What the heck is Plan B? What IS plan B? WHAT is plan B? Well I went to the Museum of Natural history which I had not visited since 5th grade field trip. Guess what? That was plan B for most of NYC. It was shoulder-to-shoulder with people. It was OK, but I finally made my way to JFK airport and was sitting down reading. I'm just sitting there when this WEIRD lady comes over to me and says, "I've prayed about it. I asked God who I should talk to to, and I decided it was you." Now, I don't know about you, but THIS is not a good way for a conversation to start! So she asked me, "I missed my flight to Dublin. I'm wondering if you know how to get from Shannon to Dublin?" Well, in actuality, nerdy-girl here HAS thought out how to get from Shannon to Dublin. I pull out the bus schedule and explain how we have to take a bus to Limerick, and then we can catch a train in Limerick for Dublin. So she has somehow asked the right person all the right questions and gotten the answers she needed. I'm not thinking I'm God's answer to her prayer or anything, but it did work out for her. So....I tell her, "It's very possible for you to get to Dublin on your timeline, if you like just follow me. I'm going there."
Well it turns out she's a flight attendant for Delta. She's going to Dublin to hook-up with a friend that has backstage tickets for her to see Tina Turner in Dublin. That's cool. Well I get to my seat (16A) and she gets to go up to first class. Nice perk of working for the airline. I'm settling in to my seat in the sardine section when I see her come down the aisle. I wave to her and she give me the "come here" finger. So I get up and move toward her (that's real easy on a plane) and she says the flight attendants have one more first class seat left and since I'm her friend they're going to let me sit up there with her (Don't tell anyone.).
So I get the nice warm wash cloth to warm and clean my hands. I get my choice of dinners (I get the prime rib and shrimp scampi). I get the nice WIDE-BODIED chairs to go with my WIDE -BODIED body! I get the nice chair with the leg rests that allow you to actually lay back and get comfy. I get all this because I was nice. I have to tell you that after dinner I took some nice Xanex and took a nice snooze and woke up over Ireland. It was GREAT! In the generous spirit of the times, I offered a little sleep to my new friend. She and I both arrived in Shannon, Republic of Ireland well rested and ready to travel at 8AM Irish time.
How bazaar though to have a strange woman come up and make me Queen for a Day (flight). That was the most weird thing that happened on this trip, full of other synchronistic events. It's a testimonial to the fact that if you're nice, good things can happen to you. This was the most "funny" (unusual) thing that happened to me on this trip.
What was the WORST part of your trip?
Well, the night that I blew into Belfast and found my Hostel, there was a soccer team staying on the same floor as me. Very little sleep while the testosterone crowd stay up drinking all night and playing loud music and being boring, loud drunks.
I go downstairs and say I want to stay another night but not close to the soccer team. They put me in a different dorm. It's one pound more a night though, is that ok? Well it's one more pound a night it turns out, because it's "en suite." The bathroom is IN the dorm, you don't have to go down the hall. Shrug, OK. Then I'm showering and getting ready for bed, when the rest of the room come back from sightseeing. Ohhhhhhhh. It's a co-ed dorm! The OLD woman with NO BOOBS is in a dorm with GUYS and girls who are all young, strong, and very in-love. Take my word for it, they're in love! They're from the Basque region of Spain and so some speak English, and some don't. Their Spanish is SO accented, that I can't for the life of me understand them. I do understand that it's three couples and each couple is very, very good friends with one another! So what the hell?! I figure I'm there to sleep. They're in their bunk bed, and I'm in mine, and I just sleep. At least the dang soccer team wasn't close by anymore! So I slept. Next morning everyone is polite and everyone averts their eyes from everyone else. The guys don't watch me; I don't watch them in their skimpy, form-fitting, Lycra briefs that have no fly (not that I was looking). I'm hoping they weren't looking when I hoisted up my store-bought "girls" and put them on. We'll never know if I scared their youthful minds forever, since I'm not good at Castillion and won't read their blog, but I'm guessing I just might be the "funniest" thing that happened to them while they were on their vacation! Just a little stomach acid. That's all, just a little stomach acid when I realized it was a co-ed dorm.
What was the most EMOTIONAL part of your trip?
One of my goals was to see if I could find the grave of my mother's sister who died in 1935. Now I don't know about you, but I think finding a graveyard in a foreign country and finding the grave of someone in particular in that foreign country, from something like 70 years or so ago -- that sounds like spitting into the wind to me. An impossible task that can't possibly be done on a whirlwind trip. Well, I have to tell you. I found the town. I found the churchyard, I found the keeper, and I found the little grave of the little girl that would never grow up to be my aunt. It was a miracle. It was the hole-in-one, miracle that I didn't truly believe would be possible. Then when I got to the grave and the keeper left me alone with her, I lay down on top of the grave. I thought of the book "The Lovely Bones" and I talked to her. I just told her about her mom and dad and sister and how I was related to her, and that I had a daughter with children of her own now. I told her the story of her family and apologized that she didn't get to be a part of our lives for so long and that I was glad I found her. I lay there for a good 30 minutes and just chatted up a dead girl that died at age 6 when my mom was 11. She lay beside the stone with the large CLARKE on it in a churchyard that had acres and acres of graves from 1700's on, and the fates allowed me to find her that day despite the fact that everyone and everyone was closed for the Easter week. Laying there and being with her was really much more emotional than anything I expected. Yet, it was the right thing to do at that time. It was my connection to the innocent past. She died of a disease that we don't know today. She died of diphtheria. She died of something that started like a cold and cough, and ended with her windpipe swelling, and swelling until that point in time that she could breathe no longer and she suffocated. What a terrible death. Now days we're all immunized against diphtheria. Thank goodness! I don't know if there is a here-after or if the dead can hear us or if we can communicate with the past in any significant way, but it was really, really emotional for me to find that grave.
What was the very BEST part of your vacation?
The BEST part of the vacation was coming home. The second best was spending one night in a B & B in Newry. The lady there was SO nice. She picked me up in town, and offered me tea. I had a nice big, light, airy room with a door. I had to go down the hall for the bathroom, but I had all the hot water I could want and I showered $45 worth of hot water! I had a comfy bed with an electric blanket on it, and I was warm and cozy. After several days of hosteling, I loved the luxury of the B & B. Catherine was so nice. Because I didn't have more than cereal for breakfast, she made me a lunch to take on the train with me. How nice! I loved having the privacy and the civility of the B & B after the emotional time I'd experienced above. Catherine was just as surprised as I that I found the grave of Anna Freida McPherson 74 years after her burial. If I ever knew her first name I didn't remember it, and it so surprised me to discover her first name since it is a name that threads it way through the decades. There is a tiny part of Anna Freida McPherson in Joann and maybe even in Julianna. I don't know if Frieda knows that her legacy moves through four more generations or not. But I'm really happy I got to stay with Catherine and her nice B & B the night after I found Freida.