Irish Lemonade

Shoving my laundry, first into a shopping bag, then that bag into my luggage, I looked around and said, “I think I’ve packed everything that I brought with me.”

My daughter Tammie laughed, “Mom, you always forget something or another.”

Rolling my eyes, I admitted, “That’s true.” Every time I visit my daughter for a weekend, I invariably end up forgetting to take something home. Once I left behind my curling iron and ended up buying a new one.

After one last inspection of my daughter’s apartment, I zipped the luggage shut and followed her to the door. Tammie said, “Oh, by the way, have you heard from the pilgrimage headquarters yet?”

Last year Tammie and I had an enjoyable pilgrimage to Israel with Mater Dei Tours. This year they will lead a pilgrimage to Ireland at the end of August. We wanted to join them again.

I said, “No. I haven’t heard from them yet. I’ll give them a call.”

On the phone the following afternoon I discovered that my application for the trip had never arrived at Mater Dei. The man in their office said, “The tour is full, but we’ll put you and your daughter on our wait list. There are seven names ahead of yours.”

When I called Tammie I hesitantly said, “For some reason my application didn’t get to the Mater Dei office.” Then apologetically rushed on to explain, “I tried faxing it to them. I’ve successfully faxed things before, but that day my phone line kept fading in and out. It was a weekend, so I couldn’t call them. I ended up deciding to mail it. Not wanting the envelope to sit in my rural mail box until Monday, I took it to town that afternoon and dropped it into a post box.”

Dismayed, Tammie sighed, “I was granted two weeks of vacation for the end of August! Let’s wait to see if we move up on the wait list.” After a moment of thought she suggested, “If we don’t hear from them by July, we’ll make other plans.”

I felt bad, as if what had happened was my fault. Questions buzzed though my head. Why hadn’t I taken our applications into town to be faxed, instead of mailed? Was this a trip that we were just not meant to take? During this time before our change-of-plans deadline, I was faced with having to place two family members in assisted living and had to empty their farmhouse, my childhood home, because it’d been sold. I told Tammie, “I can’t even think about going to Ireland right now. Maybe it’s better this way.”

By July all the dust had settled. My family obligations were fulfilled. I once again questioned why the highly-anticipated trip had slipped out of our grasp. That is when I received an email from Mater Dei. It said, “You and your daughter are next on the waiting list.”

Calling Tammie, I said, “We’re next on the list, but don’t you think the odds are low that there will be two people dropping out of the tour? If we did suddenly get a call saying we could join them, I’m not sure I could get ready in time.”

My daughter agreed. “We’d better make other plans for those two weeks I have off.” As we talked, we surfed the internet, looking at places to visit. Did we want to go to Alaska or see a friend in North Carolina? In the past we’d thoroughly enjoyed a week spent in Ellison Bay, Door County at The Clearing.

I said, “We’ve always talked about renting a cabin somewhere to spend a week working on writing, or art projects. Why don’t we do that this year? We can go out to eat once in a while and maybe visit a few local points of interest.”

Tammie said, “I like that idea.” When I asked her if she wanted the cabin to be in Door County, Bayfield or La Crosse, her response was instant. “I love the La Crosse area!”

I fell in love with one of the first places I found in my internet search. I said to my daughter, “Here’s one in the middle of a vineyard on top of a bluff overlooking a coulee.” Although we were miles apart, a moment later both my daughter and I were looking at the same website. I mused, “Remember that wonderful Dublin Pub and Grill in La Crosse? During our vacation, let’s stop there for a Guinness and an Irish meal.”

There is a saying, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” Sadly, we won’t be going to Ireland this year, but Tammie and I have decided to make Irish lemonade out of the time that we had set aside for that trip.






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