The Oregon Plan, Unplanned

Before I get too far into things, I need to come clean about my obsession with order and planning. I’m one of those annoying types who plans for events months in advance. I can’t live without my planner.

Everything in my life becomes a mapped out, previously planned, scheduled ordeal, which often turns into a messy, chaotic, jumbled up disaster. You’d think I would have learned by now that you can’t always plan how life is going to unfold.

All right. Now that’s I’ve given you a little foreshadowing…

Friday was the big day. I was flying out to Oregon to spend some much needed time with friends and family, particularly Grandma. Grandma practically raised me. She was the safe haven when I was a child and well into my teen years. She’s 81 years young, and while she’s young at heart, even she’ll admit that she’s not gettin’ any younger. I wanted to spend more time with her, and parlay that into a visit with my sister, my best friend, other relatives… you know, the usual when you’re visiting your home town.

I also signed myself up for a half marathon in Vernonia, OR. Hey, why not?

Thursday (the day before my trip) I came down with something. Not just any old something. A stomach bug, with a fever in the 100’s to boot. I blame my husband. He’s been sick and passed his good fortune onto me. He’s great at sharing.

I wasn’t sure if Friday would even happen. The thought of flying and dealing with stomach issues seemed more than daunting, at best. I managed, but here’s how: I barely ate a thing. And even then, that didn’t safe guard me from having to make a pit stop in a  Minneapolis airport bathroom. (Forgive me, Minnesota). I even cut back on my liquids. Not the best choice while flying, but the last thing anyone wanted was for me to have a blow-out 15,000 feet up in the air.

By some miracle, I made it to the Portland, OR airport practically unscathed. And after fighting rush hour traffic, I finally made it to Salem, and to Grandma’s house.

Grandma is all about hospitality and making sure I’m comfortable. While a lot has changed, so much has stayed the same within the confines of her home. Like the photos in my old room. Always present, never changing. And she’s always giving me stuff to take home, especially gifts for my boys.

Little sis and I. Those pictures have never moved, not in all the years I've known my Grandma
Little sis and I. Those pictures have never moved, not in all the years I’ve known my Grandma



Saturday I wasn’t out of the woods. My stomach was still a mess. While making a trip to the grocery store to pick up some stomach-friendly foods, my best friend called, luring me to her house with the promise of a relaxing couch and a blankie.

That’s where I stayed for the next 4 hours. Although we’re not related by blood, Goofy is like a sister to me. We’ve still maintained our silly nicknames we’ve called each other since childhood. Her children call me Aunt Chainsaw. My kids know her as Aunt Goofy.

Goofy and Chainsaw
Goofy and Chainsaw

Afterwards, I kidnapped Goofy and we headed over to my sister’s house. She recently purchased a new home and I wanted to see it live and in person. I got to spend much-needed quality time with my adorable nephew, too, who bears an uncanny resemblance to my little guy.

I made plans to pick up a pizza for Grandma and I, on the way home. It was getting late, my sister already had her dinner plans in place, and Goof had dinner waiting for her at home. After dropping her back at home, I received a text from my dad.

Sara, Grandma’s dog Cindy died.


I had confirmed with Grandma not 20 minutes earlier that I was picking up pizza for dinner. There was no mention of one of her 3 poodles (who have been nicknamed “the dirty cousins” due to their total disregard for all things housebroken) getting sick, or even worse, dying!

When I got back to Grandma’s, pizza in hand, I didn’t know what I’d discover. Maybe my dad was mistaken, but when I saw Grandma’s tear-soaked face, I knew he hadn’t been. Cindy had passed away in her sleep, right after dinner plans were confirmed. She looked at my Grandma with her big brown soulful eyes, no indication that she was in pain or that anything was amiss. She’s been behaving strangely for a few days, but Grandma figured she was under the weather and had planned on contacting the vet first thing Monday morning. Instead, Cindy died peacefully at home.

Grandma wrapped her little body in a blanket and carried her into the garage, placing her in a large plastic storage tub. She didn’t want to leave her outside, for fear of what other animals might do. Vet clinics were all closed on Saturday night. We’d have to wait until Sunday, when the Humane Society was open.

I made the decision while eating pizza with Grandma that I wouldn’t run the half marathon. Although I felt better (I had 4 slices of pizza; must be getting my appetite back) I wasn’t leaving her to tend to Cindy’s affairs alone. Her pets are her kids and I knew she’d need someone to help her through her difficult time.

One Sunday, I thanked God that I got to be there for my Grandma, to keep her company and drive her to the Humane Society. She cried when the employee assisting us removed Cindy from the container. Grandma had Cindy since she was a pup. She would have been 12 years old in a few weeks.

Goofy had invited us to Silver Creek Falls, but Grandma declined the invite. A hike sounded nice in theory, but I got the impression she wanted some alone time. I went on without her, and even though we didn’t get to go around the falls, it was still a great time.


Later, Grandma joined us for dinner out at a nice Italian restaurant. Afterwards, Grandma and I did what we always did when I was a kid; we scoped out the grocery store on the way home, purchasing chocolate and coconut cakes for dessert. If anyone questions my total need for sweets, blame Grandma. It’s genetic.

I’d noticed a sore throat for most of the afternoon, but I tried to ignore it, chalking it up to allergies. Monday morning, I knew it wasn’t allergies, but a full out cold. My husband had the same thing happen to him, so I figured it was par for the course. I kept it easy. I had lunch with Goofy, our last hurrah before I headed back home to NE. I visited with a cousin I haven’t seen in years, and I got to meet her adorable baby boy. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening watching Dancing with the Stars and relaxing, preparing for the journey home.

Yesterday I got stuck in Boise, ID due to bad storms in Salt Lake City, my connecting flight. On the plus side: I watched Night at the Museum (the 3rd one) while we waited for the weather to calm down enough for us to fly safely into Utah. The downside: I felt like crap, and had to carry around a pocket full of tissues so I wouldn’t dribble boogers from my nose.

Nothing I’d originally planned had worked out, not really. I’d planned on seeing another friend of mine and it didn’t pan out. I wanted to visit with my sister a little more, but she got sick sick, do did my nephew. I didn’t run the race, and I had a lot more down time than I’d anticipated I would have, but it all worked out the way it was supposed to, I guess. I spent a lot more time with Grandma, and I didn’t feel rushed or in a hurry to get from point A to point B. I learned a lot of really great information about my heritage and my family. (Did you know albinism runs rampant in my family? I didn’t know!)

Not much panned out, but I’m glad it didn’t. Sickness aside, I had a really great trip, and look forward to many more adventures in the future. (As long as there’s cake. Everything else can unravel, but there will always be cake!)


One thought on “The Oregon Plan, Unplanned”

  1. Sara things happen even when you plan for other things. So happy you got to see Goofy and Carrie and Ayden. Remember when we all met at Grandmas 2 years ago and I was sick. I noticed everyone backed up when I was handing out the Presents. The way I was coughing and sneezing I would too. And Helene gave it to me like Kevin did too you. Thank you Spouse huh? GRRRRRRR. Then I gave it to my Mom. THank you Son. Grrrrrr. Lets hope everyone is well when you guys come here. Another great story Sara. Love you.

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