By Lori Freeland –
Through the tiny glass oval, I watched ant-size cars enlarge as my plane descended into Milwaukee. My morning coffee puddled in my stomach. Shoulders tight, I pulled my purse from under the seat and waited to deplane.
I questioned my decision to fly to Wisconsin to drive my mom to our family reunion in Ohio. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go—but locking two polar opposites in a Toyota Corolla for a day couldn’t end well. Could Laissez-faire Lori and Calendar Kay make it a day, let alone ten, without killing each other?
My mom picked me up and we switched seats. As we entered the ramp for 90/94, my phone rang.
She reached for it. “Talking and driving kills people.”
Miles later, she glanced at the speedometer. “Are you going eighty-five?”
I peeked at the gauge and lifted my foot. “No, I’m only going seventy-six.”
Halfway to Indiana, a theater sign jutted from the road. I changed lanes. “Want to take a break and see a movie?”
She frowned. “That’s not on our schedule.”
With a sigh, I shot past the exit. “How about a spontaneous latte?”
“Great.” She smiled. “I’ll buy.”
By the time we pulled into the motel parking lot to pick up the room key, my neck ached.
A stack of stained mattresses sat piled next to our room. I grimaced, having already paid online at a site where the hotel remains a mystery until you enter your credit card. Hoping the inside proved better than the outside, we swiped the key and went in.
I yanked off the blue floral comforters. My mom rested on the edge of her bed and held up the corner of the blanket.
Think camel hair. With burn holes.
She chuckled. “Did I tell you the news story about the bed bugs?”
I ripped off my blanket and scoured the white sheet for movement. “Can you see them?”
“Of course not. Otherwise people wouldn’t sleep on them.”
While I continued my sheet inspection, she went to the sink to wash her face. The faucet handle fell off.
I dialed the front desk. A monotone voice informed me we could switch rooms to one double bed or stay here with a broken sink. I thanked her for being so helpful and hung up.
I groaned. “What else is wrong with this room?”
Turned out a lot. The TV outlet protruded from a duct-taped hole in the wall. The towel rack had ripped out of the shower. And the corners of the bathroom floor contained various unknown debris. Each time we found a new disaster, my mom laughed louder.
I stared at the carpet with a frown, pulled on socks and sent my friend Tracy pictures of our motel debacle. She texted me back this song.
My faucet broke and my towel bars missin’
The A/C’s on and the grates are hissin’
Lord, bring me back to Texas!
My mom grabbed the coffee pot off the counter. “I’m making some decaf. Want some?”
“There’s no water.”
“Sure there is.”
Watching her make coffee using faucet water from the tub sent me over the edge and I giggled so hard I fell off the bed. “I’m so not drinking that.”
As laughter escalated to tears rolling down our faces, the tension and stress of the day disappeared. This Broken Inn bonded us, tempered our differences, and pasted a memory into the scrapbook of our lives.
Sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine. “He will fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy” (NIV Job 8:21).