29 Hours

Mary had reservations to fly to Ohio for her mom’s 93rd birthday party, Saturday, April 13. The party was to be held, 4:00 in the afternoon, at Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen in Mt. Hope, Ohio.

Her flight was scheduled to leave Greenville, S.C., Friday night at 8:30, connecting in Charlotte, arriving at Akron Canton, Ohio, 11:45 p.m.

Mary receives a text Friday night, on her way to the airport from American Airlines saying, her flight is delayed and she may not make her connecting flight in Charlotte, advising her to reschedule. 

The only flight available is Saturday morning at 7:30, connecting in Charlotte, and then on to Cleveland Ohio, landing at 1:10 p.m. There are no flights into Akron Canton on Saturday in time for the party. This causes alarm for Mary, ‘will I get there in time?’ Tim assures her all is well. He will rent a car for her the next day, so she can drive herself the hour and a half ride from Cleveland to Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen in Mt. Hope. 

Mary texts her sisters to announce the change of plans. She will not be arriving tonight at 11:45. This was the first of many, many texts that would be sent to them! 

Tim and Mary go home.

Saturday morning, Tim drops Mary off at the Greenville Airport at 6:30 a.m.

Mary boards the plane. She and the rest of the passengers sit on the plane for an hour, the pilot finally letting them know a part installed in the cockpit isn’t working, but should be fixed in a few minutes. That causes another alarm for Mary!

Soon after that, Mary gets a text from American Airlines, saying the flight may be delayed, and she may not make her connecting flight in Charlotte!

 What? How can this happen 2 flights in a row?

People sitting around her are also getting texts. The Pilot finally announces, if anyone wants to get off the plane to reschedule flights in case the repair will take longer than expected . . .

Mary gets off the plane with many others as she calls Tim, who is now at home, 15 minutes away and asks him if he can get back to the Greenville Airport right away. If the plane is delayed longer or even finally canceled, Mary needs time to drive the hour and a half to Charlotte to catch her connecting flight at 11:00 A.M.

They decide to catch the plane in Charlotte, just to be safe. 

Tim arrives at the Greenville Airport to pick up Mary. They take the I-85, a road that Mary hates, because there is always construction, congested traffic, delays and countless accidents. ALWAYS!

But, it is the only route to take.

Tim assures Mary, that all is well, he will get her to Charlotte in time for her flight, so she can get to her mom’s party. Mary is again texting her sister’s, letting them know the fiasco she is going through to get to the party!

Adding to all of this, is the torrential pouring rain as they drive to Charlotte. The last 12 miles were so bad, they couldn’t see the road ahead, everybody was hitting the brakes and driving slowly. The road was literally flooded. Mary was scared, praying fervently that they would be safe, and get there in time!

Tim dropped Mary off at the terminal once again, saying he will wait in the Cell Phone Parking lot until Mary is boarded on that plane and it really was going to take off. She thought it a good idea, considering all that had gone wrong so far. 

The airport was packed, spring break was in full swing and there were families everywhere. The lines were very long. Mary and others were ushered to another security area ‘that was not as busy’ but Mary and those around her thought that not true, seeing the very congested  lines they were directed to!

Being in a hurry to get to the next line, Mary didn’t have a chance to see an Arriving and Departure Monitor confirming her flight, if it was on time, or maybe even canceled! She didn't dare get out of line to check. A very nice couple behind her, also concerned about getting through security in time to make their flight, listened to Mary’s uneasiness and not wanting to get out of line to go check the screen . . . ‘Well, I can do that for you!’ said the very nice man, as he ducked under the ropes and walked down the hallway to find Mary’s flight. Thank you very much kind man. She was relieved when he came back and said the flight was on time.

Mary arrived at her gate, which was full and overflowing with waiting passengers, just in time to hear the agent at the desk announce their plane is on the ground and as soon as it gets to the gate, and the crew gets the plane ready, all will be able to board. She sat down, relieved!

They wait and wait. Finally, a half hour later, they announce the plane still isn’t at the gate, but they know it’s on the ground! Mary texts her sister’s and tells them that she may not be making it to the party. She was getting herself prepared for disappointment just in case. She texts Tim at the Cell Phone Parking lot, telling him she is glad he didn’t leave yet. Flights all around them are being canceled due to severe weather in the area and other destinations. Mary was relieved that hers wasn’t canceled yet, as she kept checking the radar on her phone and saw how bad the weather was all over the eastern part of the country, ‘but I won’t hold my breath!’ she told her sisters and Tim via text.

Finally, the plane arrives at the gate. They get it loaded quite quickly! They are now 45 minutes delayed. Mary is thinking she will miss the party, but can still make it for pie and ice cream at Marv and Rhoda’s house afterward. Mary is on the verge of feeling sorry for herself, she wanted so badly to be at the party, because they had scheduled THE John Schmidt to come sing for her mom at Mrs. Yoder’s Restaurant! She really wanted to be there. 

The plane backs away from the gate, and Mary texts Tim, saying its ok for him to leave. She texts her sisters and tells them she may not make it to the party in time. They were in a line, 12 other planes ahead of hers, waiting to take off. The sisters have all sorts of comments, etc. etc. 

Mary kept calculating the time, wondering if she will make it to Mrs. Yoder’s. If only she would be landing at Akron Canton!

Somehow, the pilot may have stepped on the gas, because the flight made it to Cleveland in an hour and 10 minutes! Mary got to Cleveland before Tim got back home to Greenville!

Mary was so disappointed when she realized all Car Rentals at the Cleveland airport are now off site, because she was in a desperate hurry. A bus took her over to the Car Rental as she calculated the time again! They gave her the cutest little pickup truck to drive to Holmes County!

 Wait, she just wants a little car! The smiling agent, a tall young man, with a soft voice and very white teeth glowing in his smile against his black face said, ‘Oh no, take the pickup truck. Why not? It will be fun!’ Mary did not argue with him. She was in a hurry!

She left the Car Rental at 2:30, feeling good about getting to the 4:00 party, still very out of breath from all the worry, waiting and rushing, wondering if she will make it. She had texted her sisters to report on her situation, letting them know she will be on time.

Mary calls Tim as she is driving through the Ohio countryside. ‘Tim, you should see how ayvich ('ayvich,' in the german dialect Mary speaks, means 'very' but with extra oomph!) beautiful it is! It’s so very green and lush, every lawn, every field is covered in the greenest of green color, the trees standing out in their magnificent glory, the branches, dark and bare, with the slightest hue of green because of buds just ready to pop! It’s so beautiful Tim! I have tears!’ She said in a voice packed with emotion!

Tim says, ‘Now Mary, you know it is NOT beautiful! Think about the winter time! That trumps anything green you are seeing right now!' He said it in a matter of fact way. 

Mary knew where Tim was coming from, but she so relished that hour and a half drive she had, drinking in the lovely springtime beauty of Ohio! 

The party was just wonderful! John Schmidt came and sang for her mom.

Mrs. Yoder’s food was delicious as always. The continued party at Marv and Rhoda's house with Pie and Ice Cream, Mary's mom opening her birthday gifts, all delightfully fun, because family always is! 

And then Mary drove another hour to her mom’s house, where she would spend the night,  her sister Regina riding with her, in the rented truck, which she had now fallen completely in love with.

Mary got up Sunday morning, getting ready for her flight back to South Carolina. Mary’s mom presented her famous Baked Oatmeal for breakfast, along with fat, fresh blueberries she smothered the oatmeal with. Delicious! Mary loves to eat at her mom’s house.

Mary drove her little truck to the Akron Canton Airport. She had to walk what seemed like a mile, from the car rental return to the terminal, through wind and cold, as rain pelted her face. She had no coat. She remembered Tim’s words from yesterday on her lovely ride from Cleveland, ‘Mary, it is NOT beautiful.’ She was definitely agreeing with him now. 

She gets on the plane. The pilot lets everyone know that it may be a rough flight, because of weather. Mary hates that, because she is scared to fly even if the weather is good! Tim has left for Charlotte to pick up Mary, even before her plane leaves Akron Canton.

 Mary is NOT going to board her connecting flight to Greenville when she lands in Charlotte, because Tim and her are driving straight to Edisto Beach from the Airport, to spend a few days with Shana and Jeremy and the Boova during their Spring Break.

The pilot did not lie. It was rough getting into Charlotte, but Mary is just glad they are going to land, and the past 29 hours will be behind her!

Because they got into Charlotte too early, there are no gates open for the plane. Mary and all the passengers have now been sitting on the plane for 30 minutes, somewhere on the tarmac. 

 Mary texts Tim who is again at the Cell Phone Parking Lot, just like yesterday. ‘They can’t find a gate for us, and I have to go to the bathroom so bad!’ (Mary is telling you this, only because it adds to the misery of the past 29 hours in her effort to get to her mom’s party.) Mary thinks there were others that had to ‘go’ because when she got off the plane after waiting 45 minutes, there was a line of ladies fighting for position, headed straight for the first restroom! 

Mary was finally picked up by Tim, and they were on their way to Edisto Island.

29 hours. A lot of it was spent at airports, on planes or driving to and from. Only a few of those were spent with family, but it was oh so worth it!

Because family always is!

The End


  1. Doris Sommers

    I am supposed to fly American Airlines through Charlotte on the 14th if this month . After this story I think I will anticipate with trepidation

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