Lesson 1-Always Grab A Sweater


The whole point to our trip to Florida was for the warmth. My Mémé doesn’t enjoy the cold; she keeps the heat in her house at 80 and still says she’s freezing. Well, let me tell you, she claimed it was arctic out the whole time we were in Florida and I swear to you I was wearing shorts most of the time.


Over the years I’m sure you’ve heard “grab a sweater (or jacket) just in case” more times than you can count as you rushed out the door. It’s my Mémé’s favorite line to shout at the retreating back of whichever child, grandchild, or great-grandchild is disappearing out the front door. Never in my life, even in the sweltering heat of late summer, have I gone anywhere with her where a sweater or jacket wasn’t stuffed into my bag, tossed on the backseat of the car, or tied firmly around her waist.


Apparently it’s a lesson I learned well because I was incredibly well prepared right from the start of this trip.


Normally, I pack my carry-on with 5 or 6 pieces of versatile clothing, two books, (or my kindle) and my laptop. If the worst should happen and you end up without your luggage you better have clothes that don’t show dirt easily, don’t wrinkle, and match everything. Usually, that means I wear a sweater, light jacket, and a scarf instead of packing them so that I can use that precious carry-on space to load in an extra pair of shoes. I did of course, layering a very light sweater with my leather jacket and favorite travel scarf for the ride to the airport and the always freezing plane. It was a chilly 50 degrees out the morning we left, but I knew it was going to be a roasty toasty 70 when we landed in Florida. But just as I was about to walk out the door, I heard that little voice in my head saying “grab a sweater, you never know.”


Well I love being the queen of prepared so I grabbed a medium weight shrug on sweater and shoved it in my already stuffed Adrienne Vittadini bag, just in case. I shouldered my carry-on and hauled my trusty red suitcase out the door and across the yard to the waiting car in my Mémé’s drive way.


My Mémé has traveled all over the world. She’s visited countries like Germany, England, France, Yugoslavia, the Bahamas, and of course her to-date favorite place Jamaica. Between her and my Aunt, who used to work in the tourism/travel industry, I guess it’s no surprise that traveling is one of my greatest passions. Five years ago I wouldn’t have even poked in her bags, trusting her to be a super packer like myself, but lately, she’s been a bit forgetful and easily distracted (which is the whole reason I was going with her). Unfortunately, with all the things I’d been doing I hadn’t had time to help her pack.


My aunt is awesome, thankfully, and she’d helped. I’m not saying my Mémé can’t do things or needs someone to watch her every move, she certainly doesn’t. So when I say my aunt helped, I mean she did the physical act of packing and just asked “do you have everything” a lot. My aunt is a world class traveler so I didn’t bat an eyelash when she said everything was all set. We bundled my Mémé into her lighter winter jacket and out to the pre-heated car and the two of us wrestled two large suitcases and two carry-ons into the trunk and headed off for Boston.

When we got there my aunt pulled up curbside and she settled my Mémé into the waiting wheel-chair service. (Quick shout out to JetBlue and Logan Airport for having that option at the curb drop!) I grabbed our bags from the trunk, and with a wave goodbye to my aunt followed my Mémé to the JetBlue counter. After checking our bags and getting our tickets we started towards security. I have to say, if you’re traveling with someone older or even injured, get the wheelchair or assisted service. My Mémé uses her cane and she certainly believes that she can do the whole travel thing just fine but we always make her use the wheelchair. It eliminates the possibility of disaster and it just gives you so much more ease and peace of mind. It doesn’t cost extra and the staff is super helpful.

Anyway, just as we are about to get up to security (also a wheelchair perk you get to skip the big line! There’s still security to go through but its way shorter and the person in the chair doesn’t have to take their shoes off.) and I’m struggling to multi-task by getting my scarf off at the same time I’m trying to make sure I have easy access to my laptop my Mémé starts to complain that she’s frozen.

I’m sure my face was the perfect picture of horror as she said that. My Mémé gets what she calls a chill. Her chill usually means, she’s totally incapable of warming up, even when roasted and ends up with a headache and a desire to be in bed with her heating pad for the next 24-48 hours. My Mémé also has super severe anxiety so I’m sure her chill had something to do with the fact that she was reaching the point of no backing out on this trip. Once she was through security that was it, no going home.

I finished tugging off my favorite scarf, wrapped it firmly around her neck, and told her I would get her a heavier sweater for under her jacket as soon as we got through security, because her carry-on was nicely being carried by the helpful wheelchair assistant. Said wheelchair assistant smiled, and taking the whole thing in stride, began chatting with my Mémé as she steadily pushed her through the line of security. Honestly, the woman was a pro- she got my Mémé’s jacket and scarf and bag and all other effects up on the conveyor belt in record time and was helping my Mémé bundle up again by the time I came through.


I was a wreck.  I am a security pro- but I’m also clumsy and incapable making anything look effortless or artless. Usually, I can pull of the security routine (laptop out and in its own bin, little travel baggy with liquids out and in a bin with my jacket and shoes, scarf off and tied around the handles of my carry-on) with only minimal dysfunction, a dropped shoe maybe or struggling to get all my electronics in their bin. Not this time, my Mémé’s little chill and the fact that I didn’t have the whole line’s worth of time to prep myself had me super flustered. Thank the universe for the wonderful gentleman who was waiting in the line for letting me get in front of him and helping me juggle the buckets and the sweetheart of a young army vet in front of me who helped me shove my bag through and let me cut in front of him so my Mémé didn’t have to wait. Travel can bring out the best or worst in humans and these two were definitely the best.


When I appeared with my plethora of crap on the bench just past the security check point, I took a moment to open my Mémé’s carry-on and lo-and-behold, there is not a single sweater in there. Some socks, a single outfit, and then her boat load of medicine was all that was packed into her large leather duffle. When asked where her sweater is, my Mémé just said, “Well, I had my sweatshirt and jacket so I just packed everything else in my suitcase. Otherwise, my medicines wouldn’t have fit.” Considering, that I probably could have packed another week’s worth of clothes in the bag, I’m sure that my facial expression was absolutely incredulous. So not to make my Mémé feel like I was mad at her, or add any stress to her, I quickly zipped the bag back up, handed it to the woman to hang off the handles of the wheelchair and began haphazardly shoving my crap back into my own carry-on, deciding if my light weight sweater would be enough or if I should try and give her my leather jacket when suddenly there it was. My grey sweater, that I’d last minute shoved into my bag.

I quickly grabbed it and bundled my Mémé into the extra sweater and her light jacket before re-wrapping the scarf around her neck. Finally, we were deposited in the waiting area near the gate, where my Mémé insisted on getting out of the chair and using just her cane. I had to run up to Starbucks- two gates over- and get her a hot tea before the chill finally went away. She also used my jacket as a blanket on the plane (I froze but no biggie). She did love my sweater though, she used it the whole rest of the trip and I swear I never went anyplace, even when it was 80 for a few days, without grabbing a sweater or two.


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