Last week, we took the the girls out of school, and went on our first
family trip without Darrel. We went to Niagara Falls, and stayed at the Great
Wolf Lodge, which has a huge indoor water park. It had been two years since
any of us really had any fun in the water. No one had really complained about
that, as they knew Darrel's central line couldn't get very wet, for fear of
infections, or any other possible problems. Everyone enjoyed all the Lodge had
to offer (water slides, wave pool, hot tubs, arcades, yummy food o'plenty...),
and it was nice to get away from home for a while.
Although Darrel's absence was felt throughout our trip, for me, it was most
present while driving there and back. Darrel was always a chatter-box, and
quick to give his opinion on anything and everything. It was too quiet in the
Jeep without his unique perspectives on things, and of course, the frequent
arguments with his sisters. He was also never shy commenting on what the
driver was doing right or wrong. The wrath of his displeasure was seldom
focused on me, but mostly at Rebecca or my father when they were the ones
taking him down to Sick Kids in Toronto for an appointment. They often would
lose 'points' for many differnet infractions, sometimes before they even got to
the end of our street (but especially if they had come across someone on the
401 Mommy had found to be finger-worthy)! Usually he was just doing this to be
a little 'shit-disturber', but other times he was being quite serious.
I most certainly should have got blasted had he been there, as I missed
our exit going down to the Falls (adding an extra 30-35 minutes on to the
trip). I was very ticked off with myself for this (as this particular mess up
was totally my fault), but I wish he would have been there to put his spin on
it. He probably would have blamed Rebecca for not watching the map more
closely, or just rolled his eyes, and given the look that told me I screwed
up....but us guys had to stick together.
His vote will be missed once the gardening season comes upon us again.
Whenever Rebecca wanted to stop at a nursery we passed along the way, I could
count on his support to say we should just drive on (of course, Rebecca, not
democracy, would often rule the day regardless, but we at least put up a united
front together). He always gave me trouble for not being there on the times
when he was dragged into a nursery, and detailed all the horrors that his
mother put him through while he was waiting to get back home.
For his birthday this year, I took him to see the new TMNT movie down in
Guelph. I made sure we left extra early, as I wanted to give him a bit of a
surprise. We went a a parking lot I knew would be empty, and I let him drive
the van around for a while. He didn't know what to think of it at first, but
he eventually tried to turn it into a live action MarioKart adventure! He
would start cranking the steering wheel hard as he could when I hit the gas,
and sought out every pot hole there was to be found. I wish I could have seen
his face during all this, but at least one of us had to watch where we were
going! I remember doing the same thing countless times with my father years
ago, but I'd only get this one chance to do it with Darrel.
Darrel always made those trips in the van (we didn't get the Jeep until
after his leaving us) something to look forward to....or dread if he was having
a really bad day. Even if he was playing with the GameBoy, or watching a
movie, you knew he was there. Although he often slept during the longer trips,
he would NEVER admit to doing so (just resting his eyes). Other than trips to
the hospital in Toronto, there weren't many family trips in the van, but I will
always look fondly upon those times of Driving Mr. Darrel.