US Airways Flight 1831, Charlotte to Miami
Touching down in Miami
It’s extraordinary to realize that I woke up in Missouri yesterday, in Black Mountain, North Carolina today, and will wake up in Santiago, Atitlan, Guatemala tomorrow, after spending brief moments in Asheville, Charlotte, Miami and Guatemala City. Even for me, that’s a pretty dense forty-eight hours, especially given that there were twelve hours of driving included.
I’m just glad I don’t have to fly the plane.
I feel like I’m covering about that much emotional ground, too. I’ll be in Guatemala for just six days, but this is my last trip away for more than a weekend before I hang up my mic cables. Deanna is due in five weeks, and though there’s no reason to imagine that Thumper will join us before he’s expected (Nov. 20), it’s a little scary to be away.
Still, I love being in Guatemala— the children, the avocados, the schools and the sense that we really are making a difference— and this will be my last trip there for some time since we’re moving to Australia in January.
Then there’s the fun of introducing my friend John Smith to Guatemala. John’s a good buddy and someone I really admire, both as a songwriter and as a human being. His songs go right to my heart, and the hearts of many other people, for that matter. He’s kind of like a human multi-vitamin; I find that spending time with him makes me feel better in all sorts of ways, and makes me generally healthier.
A few (maybe ten?) years back, John, Chris Rosser and I did a run of shows together up through New England. We called it the Bad Boy Tour, given that all three of have reputations for being kind of mean, nasty, rude people.
OK, not really. But we couldn’t call it the Nice Guy Tour. The eleventh and twelfth shots here are of John, me and Chris on the Bad Boy Tour. Chris is the tall one, and we eventually figured out that the shot would work best if he was on the bottom step.
As we trekked north toward Boston in Dan the Tan Van, we started giving each other points for anything ‘bad’ we did— yelling at other cars in traffic, salty vocabulary, etc. I was firmly in the lead by the end of the trip. Or maybe I lost. I’m not sure we ever decided whether it was like golf or like basketball — were we trying to get more points or fewer?
At any rate, all that to say he’s a good guy. And he’s the one PEG has invited to come to Guatemala and have some first-hand experience there in order to tell stories at shows and raise a little money for the schools we work with.
John tours pretty constantly, like me, so we had some trouble finding a time we could both go down, and these six days were the most we could carve out. The timing’s not ideal, given that some schools are getting out around now in Guatemala, and not all the ones we work with will be in session, but it should be a good introduction to the work we’ve been doing, and a good first trip down.
Of course, the proximity to Thumper’s arrival makes it tough for me, but I had no way of knowing that it wouldn’t be the toughest part of leaving this time.
A couple of days ago my Dad, John LaMotte, was taken to the hospital with some tightness in his chest. He had sextuple bypass surgery (yep, six) twenty-one years ago. He has been off all the charts in his recovery (in the good direction), walks three miles a day, and is certainly the healthiest seventy-seven-year-old I’ve ever met. He built a rock wall in the back yard recently. You get the idea.
Still, it’s scary stuff, given the history.
The first word we got from the docs after they checked him out yesterday morning was that they might just put him on some beta blockers and such and try to treat the new blockages with drugs. The down side of that would be that he would have to live a life of less activity.
There are people in the world who could live that way and be OK. My Aunt Evelyn was one. She lived pretty quietly for many years and was pretty happy. I might be OK that way myself. Dad, not so much.
This morning my dad called while I was literally sitting on the plane in Asheville waiting to take off and let me know they’ve decided to do bypass surgery instead, and they expect to need three of them. I can’t help but remember when he went in twenty-one years ago and they told us there was a chance they might need to do as many as four.
They did six.
Dad sounds good, and clear on the decision. I’m on board too. It’s scary. There’s real danger here. But Dad wouldn’t be happy, and wouldn’t be Dad, if he weren’t vigorous and vital.
I want very much for my father to know my son. And I want my son to know my father even more. He’s quite a role model and a wise counselor. One whose shoes I’ll never fill (it’s good, I guess, that I have my own shoes).
So if you’re the kind that says prayers, we welcome them. If you’re more about sending love and Light, please do that. To me, that’s pretty much the same thing.
And in the meantime, I’m heading to Guatemala, with a big part of my own heart heading in the other direction. I’d really like to be there with the family, and if John Smith weren’t flying south on his first trip there, I’d be on a plane home instead. Dad felt strongly that I should go, though, so off I go.
Mom and Dad came to Guatemala with me last year, which was an extraordinary trip. They bounced down washed out dirt roads with me to visit schools and explored on their own in Antigua, making their own friends. There’s a shop owner there who still asks about them by name each time I visit. They get why I’m there.
I’ll post more updates as the trip goes on. Thanks for reading, for the time and for the support I know you’ll send because you always have.
paz, justicia y salud,