My grandmother recently turned 87.
She has never been on an airplane, and is adamant that she never will be.
Meanwhile, her 2-year-old great-granddaughter (my cousin) just flew to Australia with her parents, the type of trip that can be daunting even for people who travel for a living.
She says she’s worried about crashing, even after I tell her that flying is vastly safer than driving, and that aside from one time we hit turbulence over the Atlantic Ocean in the wee small hours of the morning, I’ve never really been all that nervous flying.
And by the way, that turbulence disturbed exactly no other people on the plane. Suzi was sitting next to me, and slept through the whole thing.
She says you can’t see anything out the window, which is true a lot of the time, but every now and then, you get a cool picture of Mount Hood.
It makes for a funny discussion, but it’s not like I’m going to use the kind of skullduggery the other members of The A-Team used to get B.A. on an airplane.
She’s an 87-year-old woman who doesn’t want to fly.
So be it.
For my entire life, my grandmother has lived in a little farmhouse up the hill from my parents, where she and my late grandfather had a dairy farm and as kids my brother and I drank chocolate milk with milk straight from the barn.
But she lived in New York City as a child, and told me how she would take the train to the beach … and not always with adult supervision.
I’m the oldest of her five grandchildren, and I don’t like taking the train by myself now.
Maybe if I did it regularly, I’d be more comfortable with it, but most of my train travel is with Suzi, who can seemingly master any train system, be it one she used to commute every day for 10 years (Boston’s) or picked up on basically her second ride (London’s).
So I let her take the lead, and just go where she tells me.
It’s not crashing — or, given the news, coronavirus — that I’m afraid of, but the things that usually scare me.
I hate being late, so I get to the station as early as seems feasible.
I worry that I’ll forget what I’m supposed to do, so I have the instructions on my phone, and I check them constantly.
On the train, I check the route map constantly and make sure I note every station until where I have to get off, because the worst thing that can happen is getting lost.
I’m sure my grandmother in her youth would have found that as odd as I find her insisting she’ll never fly,