Yesterday we were supposed to be going to a Caldwell (my dad's side of the family) Family Reunion and then going on to spend the night at my mother-in-law's house and then on Sunday visiting with the Singleton family (my husband's side of the family).
We left home around 8:00 a.m. going to Mooringsport, LA. Mooringsport is north of Shreveport, Louisiana. I have an aunt and uncle who usually host the Caldwell Family Reunion every year that live near Mooringsport. We haven't been in two years. Daniel had to work on a parking lot last year so we didn't get to go. The reunion is usually in April every year. It was postponed until July this year because of illnesses in the family. I have an aunt that lives in Missouri and an uncle who lives in North Carolina that were coming to the reunion this year. They aren't able to make the reunion every year. The reunion was almost canceled for July because an aunt from Texas died the week before the reunion. Most of her brothers and sisters went to Dallas, Texas for the funeral. I wasn't able to go for the funeral because my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren were driving to my house from Idaho and they were due in that weekend.
At Prescott, Arkansas we ran into a huge rain storm. It was raining so hard that everybody reduced their driving speed and some put on their emergency blinkers just to be seen by other cars. It was still raining this hard when we suddenly noticed the van was overheating. We pulled off of the side of the interstate to let it cool down. At this point we thought it was probably a water leak in the radiator or a pump that had gone out. It was still raining too hard to get out and check the engine. We let it cool down and tried driving a little further. We got a few miles down the road and had to pull over again. By this time our son and daugher-in-law who were driving behind us in their car caught up with us. Twice more we let the engine cool down and drove a mile closer to the next exit off the interstate. By this time, my husband was having trouble turning the steering wheel. My daughter then knew it wasn't the radiator which we had added water to even through it was still raining and we didn't bring any umbrellas with us in the van. My son and daughter-in-law drove on to the next exit which was only a mile away by this time and found a gas station/truck stop just off of the exit road. We drove there after letting the engine cool down two more times.
A trucker who was resting at the truck stop offered to fix the van for us if we could drive into Texarkana and buy a new fan belt. We were blessed that my son and daughter-in-law were with us and able to drive their car into Texarkana which was only about a mile away. We were at the Mandeville, Arkansas exit on I-30 (I looked it up on a map because I had thought that Mandeville was in Texas but it isn't.). Texarkana is a twin city with part of it in Arkansas and the other, bigger part in Texas. They bought the new fan belt. The trucker worked for about two hours trying to get the fan belt on before he gave up and sent us up the street to a tire store who might have the right tools to put it on. My daughter and I stayed at the truck stop with my four grandchildren ages 4-10. We had bathrooms, food, drinks, a table to sit at to watch all of the traffic in and out of the truck stop and a small game room that kept the kids occupied even though they didn't have money to actually play the games. We also had air conditioned comfort so no one got cranky because of the heat. I had bought along notebooks and crayons on the trip to help keep the kids occupied too. We got to the truck stop about 10:00 a.m.
Three different people worked on the van trying to put the fan belt on during the day. At 2:30 p.m. we bought sandwiches and drinks for lunch for all of us. Finally we decided that it was time to decide how we were getting home if we couldn't find someone to fix the van. Daniel, my husband sent our daughter and the three youngest kids in the car with my son and daughter-in-law driving toward home. About 20 minutes after they left, Daniel got the van fixed and he, our oldest granddaughter, and I were on our way home too. We called and told the others that we were now following them home. It was ten minutes till 4:00 p.m. when he finally got the fan belt put on. We got home around 6:00 p.m.
My daughter posted on her Facebook page that it was a terrible day struck on the road and in the truck stop. She was worried about how the kids were act and whether we could get her van fixed. I thought we had a really good day. Thanks to the games and the crayons and notebooks that I brought, the kids were interested and occupied with only a few minor problems. Nobody threw any temper tantrums or got hurt. We weren't struck on the side of the road helpless all day in a monster of a rain storm. We had food, water, bathrooms and most important on a July day in Arkansas - air conditioning. I was surrounded by my family and had close-up time with all of them.
I was sad to miss the Caldwell Reunion. My brother had to cancel out because he had to work. My sister was there after driving from Mt. Pleasant, Texas. I missed visiting with my aunt from Missouri and my uncle from North Carolina and all of the other aunts and uncles from Louisiana and Texas who always come to the reunion. Usually we have the only remaining great-aunt and great-uncle from my Grandmother Caldwell's side of the family also come to the reunion. I don't know if either of them made it this year. They are both in their 80's or 90's. I missed seeing the family of my aunt who died last week. They live in the Dallas, Texas area. The aunt from Missouri has been diagnosed with terminal cancer so this was possibly her last reunion. A younger cousin who was there has also been diagnosed with cancer so I don't know if I will get to see him again. I am 58 years old. All of my aunts and uncles are older than I am. I was born three days before my dad's youngest sister's birthday. Dad was the third oldest of 13 kids. This reunion had all of them there except for the four, counting my Dad, who have already died. This would probably have been the last time for us to see some of them. We are at that stage when this generation is beginning to die off.
We were also going to spend the night with my mother-in-law and visit with Daniel's Singleton family today. Daniel's mother just got out of the hospital on Friday. She went in the preceding Sunday with extremely high blood pressure. She was in ICU for most of the week. She was allergic to most of the blood pressure medicines that they used to try to get her blood pressure down. Finally Thursday it went down a little. She hasn't seen our daughter and grandchildren in about 2 years. They will now come to visit us when she feels better or we may try to go down there next weekend if Daniel isn't working. We are very glad that she is home and feeling better. Daniel's mother is 87 years old and in good health except for her blood pressure.
I enjoyed the day spending time with my daughter and grandchildren, son and his wife and of course, with my husband. A few years ago, I would have been scared and worried about how we were going to get home and if we were going to get the van fixed. I would have been really angry and disappointed at missing the reunion and visiting with my husband's family. Yesterday I was able to keep my cool and just take everything as it came. We did get the van fixed and made it back home okay. I thank God for all of the things that went right yesterday. I thank God for each of the person's who tried to fix the van. I thank God for the truck stop's location and all that it had to offer in the way of comfort and entertainment for the kids. I thank God that we had the extra money for the repairs. Thank you God, I had a really good day with the good company of my family around me. Yesterday was a blessing, not a disaster.