We went to Atlanta to visit my brother and the rest of the family. My niece Khandan, and her family came up from Louisiana. My Aunt, Iran Joon and Habib, came down from Vancouver. Ruja, Dariush, Gaby and her child came up from California. Along with the rest of the nieces, Shamsi, Shayda, Devin, my son, this brought the total of participants to 20. it was a full house.

Our family and Fetneh stayed in a hotel, the Courtyard Marriott. It was a motel, very quiet once we changed rooms away from the exit doors. Silly idea to get rooms next to the exit doors. Fo’ad lent us one of his cars. Janet calls his yard the Dukes of Hazard for the number of cars that constantly populate it. We forgot to put gas in it before returning it. I am sure he will not invite us back as a result.

It was a very difficult weekend. The grand nieces showed us some of the gymnastic moves. They are so flexible. It should not be legal. Specially not showing it off that way. I lay on the couch mostly and watched. Truly a beautiful sight.

No one knew quite what to say or how to behave, specially the first day we were there. Khandan appeared to be the hardest hit of all. We spent quite a bit of time holding hands. Not saying anything. There is nothing to say. Just sitting holding hands. More than enough love in that action. Her husband, Scott kept disparaging himself. That is usually my job, he kept beating me to the punch. What a hoot. He is a very nice man, full of life and totally devoted to his kids.

My grand nieces and nephew are home schooled. Not through any sense of political or feelings that barriers need to be broken. Khandan felt that sending her children to a school system that was rated second last in the U.S. would probably do them an injustice. Khandan, herself has grown as a result of the experience. She was not really equipped to do home schooling and had to learn the ropes as she did things. Reminds me a bit of the philosophy behind the Warldorf Schools that Devin attended. Very organic. Her efforts have paid off in spades. Thigh I am not sure she wants to paid in spades.

We ate lots and lots of rice. Green rice and fish on the first night, kebab on the second, and jeweled rice on the third. We also had a turkey on the third day just to add a sense of balance to the meal. I ate very little. The appetite is healthy, the stomach, not so much. I have had two bouts now of severe stomach cramps and averted a third one the other night. Small plate of rice for me. I had yogurt with my rice, which is not usually a good thing when you are susceptible to cramps. But I could not help indulging. Imagine, yogurt being considered as an indulgent.

Everyone left on Monday. Copious tears all around. Specially me. It is strange and disturbing to have to say goodbye to everyone. The English do not have the equivalent of Adios or Adieu, which is too bad. Good Speed just does not have the same effect. So Adios it is. My brother is coming up for a visit, so his was a good bye.

The trip was pretty uneventful. We requested wheelchairs everywhere we could. The systems in the U.S. and Canada handle things differently. The one in the U.S. works a lot better where all special assistance is handled by the airport and not the airlines. They have a speciually trained crew that comes and looks after you. Very efficient.

We went to New York, you will recall in August and ran onto the same issues we ran into this time around. The Air Canada staff process your tickets then make you sit in the lobby while you wait for an agent to look after you. They always seem to have three people ahead of you so you have to wait in the grand lobby that is Terminal 1. Nothing to do but sit.  We asked for a time frame on our trip to New York as to when we would be taken in. There was no rush they said, lots of time. Same story this time. It occurred to me that they did mind us sitting there till we had to board the plane.

Lots of time? For whom? I suggested to them that I would rather spend the time in the Air Canada Lounge than in the great ballroom. Busted. There was no comeback.  An Agent appeared within minutes to look after the elderly lady sitting behind me. We have a chair. Are you alone? Yes says the lady. Well you will have to hire a porter to take your suitcase because I am not taking it, says the agent. I am not compensated in case of injury. But the suitcase has wheels. Nothing doing. Hire a porter or think of something else. The agent was quite rough and very rude. There was no room to bargain. There was also some question as to whether the porter could go through security, which meant she was on her own past that point. She decided to walk. Upset to say the least. Gives the words Special Assistance a whole new meaning.

Our turn next. Same agent. Same rudeness. Wrong target. She asked how I was. I am in a wheelchair, I said, how do you expect me to be. You don’t have to be rude about it she says. I lowered the foot supports before getting into the chair which sent her into a tail spin. I must not do that because I might trip over them. Oh my God! I exclaim. She decided that she will get another agent to look after me if I am going to use that uppity voice. Go, baby, go. get another agent. Could not possibly be worse than you. The second agent was truly wonderful. I regret not getting her name to send in a commendation.

No troubles in security. The U.S. customs agent did not even ask me about Iran. A first in 42 years of travels back and forth. No questions, no opening of bags to check the camera. Go on in, have a nice trip.

Janet and I spent a bit of time in the lounge. We ate and drank, then made our way to the gate to join Fetneh.

The trip back was the same. Uneventful. No questions, have a nice trip. See you later. Except for one incident. We were being cleared to go through security. They have a gate at which they check your passport and boarding pass so the security people do not have to do it. I got into a discussion about my imminent demise with the guy. A refrain I have heard often came up. People do not decide when they die, God does. I suggested that God has had his say and I am probably in line waiting my turn. Your are pessimistic, he said. You never know. I will pray for you through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Janet does not have any time for any of this stuff. I, on the other hand, relish every second of it. One of the tenets of Christianity is the belief that a goal of life is to die and attain the Kingdom of God. Yet faced with the possibility of my death, the man says I am being pessimistic. Surely the opposite is true, and he should be jealous of my good fortune.

We got off the plane where a chair was waiting, but without a cushion. Two shards of metal jabbing into my ass. The Air Canada Agent was unrepentant. This is the way they all are. I regret not letting her go and making her get me one with a cushion. We braved the soulless chair. Customs was a breeze.

Finally home.

I have come to the conclusion that Air Canada goes out of its way to hire Agents that are belligerent and rude. I can see them in the interview process. Oh, I am sorry, you appear to have a sense of humour. Here is the number for West Jet or Porter. You could never work for us. The ruder the agent, the less helpful, the better the interview process.

I am glad to be home. Unfortunately, this was the last trip we will take. I cannot risk being away from my hospital. Everyone was very kind and considerate as I lay on the couch and was waited on hand and foot by all. I do not like those circumstances, but there is little I can do about it.

More posts on their way.

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