This might seem like a strange picture to base a story on, but it has a lot of memories for me.
A couple of weeks before our 32nd wedding anniversary in 2018, my wife proclaimed that she wanted to go see Punxsy Phil. In case you forgot he is the groundhog that determines whether we have an early Spring. It had been a couple of years since we took any vacation together, so her wish caught me by surprise. Even though the destination seemed strange I quickly agreed. Many of the previous years vacations were cut short due to her getting sick and having to go home, so I had given up hope for anymore. This one lasted the full four planned days.
Since Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania was about an eight-hour drive I decided to break the trip into two days with a stop in Pittsburgh. She and I both came from working-class roots, and I knew she enjoyed visiting those type neighborhoods on our travels, we spent about two hours driving through those neighborhoods. She thoroughly enjoyed those hours. It was nice to see her smile so much.
When we got to our final destination the next day she was driving. It had been raining for several hours that morning. We pulled off into the location and instead of parking in a nearby parking area she decided to pull off in the grass. I couldn’t tell her fast enough not to do that! She was already a dozen feet off the road and when she put on brakes nothing happened. We slid another twenty feet before finally stopping! When she tried to back out of the mud, she just went further down the slope. Here we were forty feet into the mud, so the only way out was with a towing service. As we gingerly walked up the hill, she was giggling the whole time! I was upset, but she was giggling and just couldn’t stop.
She found the stage where Phil made his decision a few months earlier and insisted that I take her picture. Finally, I came to realize that it wasn’t a serious problem as I thought, and so I too began giggling, well, at least chuckling. The tow truck came and pulled us out, but we stayed a while longer laughing about our situation.
It would be the last vacation we took together before her death, and it was probably the most joyful one. In the intervening times, she often talked about the Punxsy trip and how she had so much fun. Even though I couldn’t hear it, I will always remember her giggling so much. The coming years would have so much pain, anxiety, and suffering, but at least for those few days she, and I, had the time of our lives.
I’m going to be heading east to Connecticut in a few weeks, so I might just stop and revisit Phil, and remember those joyous giggling moments we had together.