Part One: April 14 – April 18. Heading out to California.

This is part one of a series of posts about our recent trip to San Diego. Most of you probably know about the trip, but not all of you. It started out as one post, but it got crazy long, so I’m breaking it up into pieces.

Part One: April 14 – April 18. Heading out to California.

On April 14th, early Monday morning, I got a message from Justin’s aunt Lisa (his dad’s brother’s wife) saying that Justin’s paternal grandpa, Doug, had suffered multiple strokes over the weekend and that he was in the hospital, not doing well. We tried to get more information, but didn’t hear until the following day, Tuesday the 15th, after I got home from work, that Grandpa Doug was declining very rapidly, at which point we made the decision to send Justin out there to say his good-byes and sit in vigil. We bought a ticket to San Diego, CA, leaving early the next morning, Wednesday the 16th, and Justin packed his bags to head out there.

At 1:00 am Wednesday morning, we drove to Augusta, GA, Justin got on his plane, and I drove back home to head to work. Justin’s flights got shuffled around and instead of landing in San Diego around 10:00 am (west-coast time), he landed closer to noon. Unfortunately, he got a call around 10:00 am (east-coast time), during a layover in Dallas, letting him know that he was already too late; Grandpa Doug had passed away early that morning.

While devastating to have missed him, there was no way for us to know that Grandpa Doug would decline so quickly and no way for Justin to get out there any faster. We expected Justin would sit at Grandpa Doug’s bedside in the hospital for a few nights after arriving, keeping vigil with Grandpa Doug’s significant other, Pat, and his dog, Linda. We had no idea he would go so quickly.

I was in a meeting when Justin called my desk phone to let me know know that Grandpa Doug had passed away. I got his message after getting out of my meeting, and I sat at my desk, tears dripping down my chin, as I called Justin back to ask how he was doing. Not great, but okay, he said. There was nothing we could have done differently. And it was good that Grandpa Doug wasn’t in pain anymore.

Justin continued on to California where, as fate would have it, his mom was already in town visiting her own mom. So Wendy and Justin’s maternal grandma, Rose, picked him up from the airport and dropped him, and a car, off at Justin’s aunt Lynn’s (his mom’s sister) and uncle Bill’s house. Wendy and Rose drove back to Rose’s house and Justin spent the next couple days with Lynn and Bill, helping fix up their entertainment system and getting reacquainted with the two of them – he hadn’t seen them in ages – until I flew out to California on Friday.

I do not like to travel by myself, by the way. I don’t like driving in Atlanta and I don’t like handing airports on my own. This trip wasn’t as bad as some others I’ve had – I got to have lunch with a friend before heading to the Park ‘n’ Go and security in the Atlanta airport has improved their screening process a lot – but it was still stressful to do on my own.

But I made it to California, where Justin, with Lynn and Bill, collected me from the airport and took me back to their darling house just down the street from Balboa Park (it has a Wikipedia page). Their home is a really cute 3-bedroom house that they’re working on fixing up. They both work from home, so they’ve turned two of the bedrooms into home offices. Justin and I slept on their sectional sofa in the living room. The primary bathroom is a tiny little water closet off of Lynn’s office because the other one is currently gutted, except for some beautiful tile work on the floor that’s barely visible beneath all the boxes holding the light figures, tub, sink, etc., that fills up the rest of the room.

Being able to spend time at Lynn and Bill’s, using their house as a “launching pad” to all our other places, was one of the best parts of the whole trip. It made it all much more manageable. I’m pretty sure I’d only met them one time prior, at our wedding, when I was obviously preoccupied with lot of other things and didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to spending a lot of time with people. They’re wonderful people, easy to get along with, and who have a great history with Justin when he was younger. I got to hear all sorts of fun stories about him when he was little, including a made-up cousin, Thurston, who Lynn was always telling him was her favorite nephew instead of Justin (he actually doesn’t have any cousins on his mom’s side). Everyone was comfortable with light-hearted teasing that got thrown around a lot. And they were perfectly at ease picking me up from the airport late in the evening and then letting me go right to sleep after having such a long day of traveling.

And that’s where I’m going to end Part One. I have no real good photos from this part of the trip, so here are a few good ones of Grandpa Doug.

Photos are all from our wedding day and were taken by Ava Kate Photography.