Thursday, February 10, 2011

A visit to Indiana during the "Storm of the Century"

It had been too long since I visited my mom's side of the family in her birthplace of Northeastern Indiana, so I bought a ticket to help my Grandpa celebrate his 81st birthday. There was no way I could have known that the "Storm of the Century" would be sweeping through the midwest the very day my plane was meant to land.

A few days before my trip, my uncles and mom recommended that I change the dates due to the big storm predicted to hit the night I get in, but I decided to take my chances. If I only made it to my layover in Denver at least I'd get a visit to my dad out of it, so off I went.

I made it to Denver just fine and looked at the flight board to see all flights to Indianapolis canceled, save miraculously for mine. How was this possible? My plane was coming from Toronto, not storm ridden Chicago. So off I went to Indianapolis. When I landed, the airport had closed and we were pretty much the only flight coming in. I quickly rented my Hundai Accent and got out of Dodge, making my 2 hour journey Northeast to my Uncle Jim's house. Yes, it was sleeting/snowing, yes, the winds swept across the wide open Interstate, and yes, I listened to the AM radio station telling everyone that if they didn't need to be on the roads, get the heck off of them. But, I continued on and made it safely to Uncle Jim's. He welcomed me with open arms and a buffalo burger. It felt good to be with my family.

The next day I knew my little Hundai Accent wouldn't make it out of a country driveway, so of course Uncle Jim had the solution: get the Backhoe out of the barn. He plowed his way through the county roads to Grandpa and Grandpa's house with me sitting on a boat cushion next to him in the cab. I love my family.

My Grandpa is an incredible man, and despite being on oxygen, he keeps his awesome sense of humor, including making fun of how slow his motorized chair is to get down the stairs. I can always learn something from my Grandpa. And my Grandma handed down an old "How to Learn Spanish" book from the 60s that my Uncle Keith (who the book was intended for) had obviously never opened.

I got to hang with my cousins and my Aunt Tamie even made "Dirt Pudding," my favorite country dessert. It was so wonderful and comforting to be back in the country with my family and their hilarious sense of humor. And I knew that if I really did get stuck here in the storm, my Uncle Jim has a year's supply of fish in the freezer, my Aunt Tamie has jars of fresh sealed veggies, my cousin has a truck with a plow attached and there is an endless supply of Carhart gear. If the world were to come to an end, I'd want to be here in the farmlands of Indina.
Carrying on the family legacy, 3 of my cousins are pregnant, which was incredible to see. And we all managed to get together at the local Pizza Hut to celebrate my Grandpa's birthday. After being in Chile where everything is about family, I felt so at home being with my own. Family will do anything for you: they will feed you, house you, and give you the most honest advice. They are almost who you are, and I'm pretty sure there's a karaoke gene in our blood because my cousins took me out karaoking, country western style.

Despite the storm trying to steer me off track, I made it back for a worthwhile visit to the people most important to me: my family.

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