Whenever something bad happens, I remind myself, or somebody else would, that it could have been worse. Indeed, nothing is truer about life in the senior lane.
Almost miraculously, Vergel and I are back, after three weeks in the States, with no untoward incidents to report—thanks to our guardian angels, as we seniors like to say—except, of course, for unwanted pounds that might have tipped me over the borderline into diabetes and God knows what else.
At any rate, we feel refreshed. However much we enjoyed ourselves, we shed no tears leaving snow-covered New York for the warmth of home. Parting was emotional, as usual, for Vergel and his brother Lito. The four brothers are very close, but Lito, the only one away, is special to each of the others. Anyone who has gotten to know him enough will easily understand.
Vergel and I love many things about the US. We’re suckers for American goods and food—corner-stand hot dogs, juicy roast beef, medium-rare steaks, crispy and soft-on-the-inside fried chicken, lavish, healthy salads.
There is, for me particularly, gluten-free, sugar-free, organic, and Lactaid milk and ice cream as well as antioxidants that definitely taste better—dark chocolates! Best of all, we feast on the sweetest and freshest fruits we can hardly find or afford here.
And I won’t shop anywhere else! Where else do you get a first discount of 70 percent and an additional 5 percent on the easiest of conditions! I got a 10-percent off an already marked-down pair of shoes by just giving them my e-mail address!
Vergel is not into shopping. He was there to bond with his brother, but the bargains were so good he, too, succumbed—to a modest extent.
The brothers talked and reminisced and laughed, or, whenever the weather permitted (exactly on merely two occasions), played tennis, a sport they love and that loves them back. Meanwhile, us wives, Grace and I, shopped until we dropped.
Indoors, Vergel enjoyed American television, mainly the news and the talk shows. Nobody can be blind to the similarity between the leaderships of our two countries. The difference, of course, is that theirs is a real two-party system. So, after a hard campaign for the midterms, the Democrats were able to win back the House, a reasonable victory of the kind rarely seen in our case.
On our last day in New York, after lighting candles for family and friends, hearing Mass, and taking Communion at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we stepped out into the season’s first flurry of snowflakes.
In no time the flurry turned heavier and heavier until everything lost its color and turned white. Although bundled up, I was unprepared for some serious snowfall. I felt like meat in an industrial freezer. I just wasn’t made for cold weather.
We left the US just in time—toward the dawn of the day after the first of many a snowfall to come. The almost infallible weather report had warned of a mere flurry—in fact six inches fell.
Lito reported several accidents on the road back to West Virginia the next day. They themselves got home safely and almost at the same time we ourselves landed. Bad weather had delayed many flights including ours.
We were unfazed, although a bit hungry and thirsty, but nothing that could not be satisfied by a huge Ziplock bag full of cocktail crackers and a dark chocolate bar Lito packed for us. Deserving a wheelchair because of my heel spur, with an attendant who would disappear but reappear at the right time, I was spared the normal inconvenience.
I started on the crackers reserved in case plane food was as inedible as on our flight in, for which we had not been prepared. Indeed, it proved handy in the airport and onboard. The carrier simply managed to ruin the simplest dishes.
Our hopes, however, rose when the menu for breakfast, the last meal, just before landing, offered something we thought impossible to ruin—corned beef, scrambled eggs and garlic rice. Well, only the rice proved un-ruinable, and we were back to our crackers.