A Road Trip to Remember - Judith S. Keim
“Gran! You can’t be serious! I can’t do that!”
“Yes, my darling, you can, and you will. I need your help.” Agatha “Aggie” Robard put as much pleading into her voice as possible without breaking down and crying. She had a plan for a road trip, and by damn, she was going to do it! At seventy-two and just through recovering from pneumonia, she couldn’t make the drive alone, and there was no way she was going to let down the man she’d promised to visit. He was, in some respects, the one who got away. Not that Arnold, God rest his soul, would mind. He’d always known she’d loved Donovan Bailey too.
“Just think about it,” Aggie urged. “A road trip to remember.”
It would be good for her granddaughter, Blythe, to get out of town, get over her boyfriend, and find a decent young man who’d adore her for being the loveable young woman she was. Two women on an adventure. That’s what they’d be. Aggie grinned with anticipation. What could be better on this March morning when the rest of their family was about to leave for a fourteen-day vacation in Hawaii?
Aggie listened to Blythe go on about the need to stay in Ithaca to wrap up her college courses at Cornell before graduation. Aggie knew her beloved granddaughter had used that excuse to escape going home for Spring Break, gotten into an argument with her stepmother, Constance, about it, and was left out of the trip to Hawaii in the process.
“A Spring Break trip to Florida in early April will do you good,” Aggie said, dangling this last piece of information in front of Blythe like a piece of her favorite toffee candy.
Blythe let out a breathy, “Oh? That’s where you want me to take you?”
“Yes. I’ve rented a place on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the Seashell Cottage, for a week, starting at the end of March. That will give us time to get there, enjoy a week in the sun, and get back home again before anyone suspects a thing.”
Suddenly, Blythe began to laugh. Her musical trills filled Aggie’s ears and brought a smile to her face. “Gran! You’re outrageous!” She paused. “Do you think we can pull off something like this? Constance will be furious if she ever finds out.”
The smile disappeared from Aggie’s face as if it had been ripped off with tape, leaving stinging skin behind. Constance Robard, her only child’s second wife and Blythe’s stepmother, was a pain in the behind, always trying to tell her what she could or could not do. Aggie fought to find the right words.
“Constance doesn’t need to know every little thing I’m doing. Just because she manipulated me into selling my house and moving into the New Life Assisted Living Community, it doesn’t mean I can’t have a life of my own. There’s a dance or two in this old lady yet.” No one was going to take away the power to live her life her way. Not even if it meant ruffling a few feathers.
“Gran, you’re not that old,” Blythe protested.
Aggie made her final plea. “So, will you do it?”
“You bet!” said Blythe, a new eagerness in her voice. “Florida sounds fantastic right now. I swear I haven’t seen the sun in Ithaca for a week or more. I’ll bring some work with me and do it there.”
“Good,” said Aggie. “Pick me up Tuesday morning at eight o’clock, and I’ll take care of the rest. And pack suntan lotion. We’ll take the convertible.”
“I love you, Gran. Don’t worry. I’ll come home over the weekend and see you Tuesday morning. This road trip is going to be fun!”
“Don’t I know it,” Aggie said, feeling as if she was about to be handed a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Still smiling, Aggie clicked off the call. Blythe was a serious young woman in the final semester of her senior year at Cornell. She’d spent years doing what others had dictated and was just beginning to understand that life should be fun too. Aggie hoped if she left Blythe with anything to remember her by, it would be this.
Aggie’s one suitcase sat beside the front entrance of the main building of the assisted-living complex she now called home. It wasn’t a bad place to be. It had every convenience possible, good food, and lovely surroundings both in and outside the buildings. Best of all, she’d made some good friends here. Two of them, Edith Greenbaum and Rose Ragazzi, had suggested the Seashell Cottage