Sunday started by attending church with Aunt Linda at Metropolitan Community Church on the South side of Chicago. I’ve gone with her to church before. The pastor is Rev. Perry and typically services are a joyous and vibrant celebration of faith. It started that morning with wonderful singing and praising. Then there was a fiery sermon that reminded us about the personal hells that we create and that with prayer, worship, and trust we can work our way out of those situations.

After the service and greeting Pastor Perry and the deacons, it was time for us to go back to Great Aunt Roberta’s house where we would wait for my Great Uncle Wendell and my other Great Aunt Dorothy. The reason they were coming to town, and it’s just coincidence that I was there as well, is that my other Great Uncle Archibald who lived in Southern Illinois passed away the previous Thursday. Aunt Roberta is 93 and Uncle Wendell (her brother) are the last two remaining of that generation, so I was truly happy to be there though I didn’t know all that would come to pass at the time I booked my flight.

Once we changed into our casual clothes, we drove over to Midway Airport (American doesn’t land there anymore so I never get to use that airport) which is closest to my family on the South side of Chicago. Anyway, we drove over to Midway, but before we could get there a torrential rain started. The weather in Chicago over the weekend had been terrible. There were several tornadoes that touched down, pretty serious thunder storms, 29,000 people without power; it was pretty bad. Fortunately, no one was killed in all of that and we weren’t affected seriously either by the storms or the power outage. Heading to Midway Airport in the latest wave of the storms inundating Chicago, we got to the airport and found out that Uncle Wendell and Aunt Dorothy had been diverted to Detroit. So, not knowing whether they would be there sooner or later, we sat tight. We finally got a phone call saying that they would not get in for another couple of hours, so we went back to the house where we had a wonderfully prepared dinner. For the foodies out there, this is one of those rare home cooked meals prepared with love by your Auntie. My Great Aunt Roberta had prepared cornbread, green beans, sweet potatoes, potato salad, mixed vegetables, corn on the cob, and meatloaf. Yum!

After we finished our meal we went back to the airport and fortunately they had landed. It’s kind of a mess, if you don’t know Midway Airport, there’s really no place to wait. I guess all the airports are like that now where a number of traffic personnel yell at you and shoo you away. The plan was that I would go in and find them while Aunt Linda circled the airport, so that is what we did. I was able to find them and get their luggage all loaded up on one of the carts and went to stand by the curb while they sat and waited. Then I signaled to them when she arrived and I had finished loading their luggage. Unfortunately, because of the weather delay I didn’t have very long to spend with them. Once we got back to the house we had to take Aunt Dorothy to pick up a couple of items from the store. Then I said goodbye to the Aunties and Uncle Wendell and wished them a safe trip down to Southern Illinois for the funeral and headed out to O’Hare for my flight.

Now given the weather and everything that I’ve mentioned before about the flight, my odds were not very good. My flight was an 8:05 p.m. direct flight from O’Hare and before we left for the airport I called several times and was told, “Yes, your flight is on time.” When I finally made it to Gate G14A, it turned out that the flight was delayed until 9:05 p.m. At 9:00 p.m. we were still sitting in the waiting area. But, three cool things happened. The first is that I decided to go and have a coke and while I was there, I saw two servicemen and they hadn’t yet ordered their meal. And, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, my habit is to anonymously pick up their tab and to have the server tell them that their service to the country is very much appreciated. Fortunately for me, these guys weren’t very hungry or thirsty, but regardless it’s just a pleasure to be able to do that.

Second, I found out that Garrett’s Popcorn is opening a stand in the airport. Now for those of you who don’t know Garrett’s Popcorn, it is a Chicago institution. Once you try it, if you’re a popcorn lover, you are hooked. The best and the most famous amongst Garrett afficionados is the half caramel corn, half cheese corn mix. The cheese corn is a velvety rich, buttery, cheesy corn that sticks to your fingers and the caramel corn is not too sweet. It’s more of a buttery, yummy, sticky but crunchy popcorn. Mixed together they’re the bomb. Anyway, it was exciting to see that Garrett’s is opening a stand in the airport. So now because I know that, on the way to the Fabulous at Fifty cruise, I will have to introduce the girls to Garrett’s Popcorn.

The third cool thing is that while I was waiting for my flight, I saw this tall distinguished looking gentleman running down the hallway and it turned out to be Arthur Bonfield. He is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, but most important to me he was my Constitutional Law teacher and one of the people who really pushed me to grow intellectually and encouraged me to go into law teaching. I hadn’t seen him since graduation because every time I’ve been back to Iowa City he wasn’t there, so I was able to give him a big hug and visit with him. It was just one of those “right place, right time” situations. So, those are my three cool things that happened at the airport.

Once I found out the flight was going to be delayed (in fact the agent told me when I found out about the delay that it may not go at all), I called Aunt Linda to tell her about it and told her that should I need to stay overnight, I wouldn’t have her come back out to get me. Instead, I would just go get a hotel room because they had to get up early to drive to Southern Illinois for Uncle Archibald’s funeral. Then I waited to see if I got on this flight . . .

As I mentioned, the original Northwest Arkansas flight was delayed from 8:05 p.m. Then it was posted to leave at 9:45 p.m. and still hadn’t left by then. It turned out there was another flight, a 9:30 p.m. regularly scheduled Northwest Arkansas flight, that was also delayed. Here was the issue. The flight that I was originally on had a plane and no crew and the 9:30 p.m. flight had a crew and no plane. They got a plane first and so those of us who were on the 8:05 p.m. flight all switched over to the later flight, but that meant a long run from gate G14A to gate H3A. This was a pretty vigorous sprint, let me tell you, and I kept losing my shoe (but at least I didn’t fall). I got to the plane and was informed that our luggage would not be transferred over, so I had to figure out how to get my luggage back before the bar meeting because it contained my toiletry bag. Just another crazy travel day.