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South Texas Living

The Christmas vacation to Colorado

The Christmas vacation to Colorado
Eddie and Lois Wauson as the sheriff and his wife

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Rainy Days and Starry Nights
August 8, 2012
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Everyone has seen the movie “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase. We had a Christmas vacation almost like it one year. We decided to go to Silverton, Colo., with my daughter, Kristi, Bill, and our four grandchildren, Brad, Jessica, Taylor, and Stephanie, all teenagers. Eddie was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. He was beginning to get disoriented and confused. We didn’t know how he could handle it. But we decided we would make the trip. It would be fun for him and us. The long drive there nearly did Eddie in! Now, when we talk about that Christmas, we can laugh. He had such a good time -- once we got there!

After driving for six hours, we stopped at midnight at a Walmart in Amarillo, for a bathroom break and to buy thermal underwear. Brad was with Eddie, taking care of his grandpa, as usual. When they came out to the parking lot, Bill had moved the van, and Brad and Eddie walked all over the parking lot to find it. They finally did, but ... when we all got back to the cars, Eddie was so confused and tired and disoriented. He kept saying when he came out of the store, everyone was gone and he couldn’t find the car, and how everyone had left him in the Walmart parking lot. He told everyone that he was lost and had gotten a ride with strangers and how he had hitchhiked all the way home to our house in Hurst. Oh, he was so confused!

We all got on the highway again and Eddie was in the van with Brad and others, and Stephanie was driving; I was in the van with Kristi and Bill and the other kids. We finally had to stop somewhere in New Mexico so I could get in the car with Eddie and calm him down and pray for him. He finally got calm and fell asleep.

We were on our way to Santa Fe, but soon we were in a snowstorm. Kristi was driving one van and Bill, the other. We were losing Bill, because he was driving slowly. Kristi pulled over to wait for him, but he went whizzing by us, not even stopping! He said later, the snowplows were out and people were sliding on the ice and snow was everywhere and he was afraid to stop. Kristi started driving faster to catch up with him, mad as a hornet. She couldn’t catch him! You don’t want to know what she was saying. We had walkie-talkies and they were burning up with words. The snow kept coming down and the walkie-talkies became silent!

We got to Pagosa Springs, Colo., by morning, and stopped to eat breakfast. Eddie had no idea where we were. Everyone was tired and bleary-eyed and no one was speaking to anyone. We just ate silently and climbed back in the vans.

We got to Durango and found a place to rent skis and piled them on top of the vans and took off north across the mountains for Silverton, everyone still in a bad mood.

We drove over the pass, and the snow was deep and beautiful. I was nervous because I kept seeing Brad and Taylor hanging out of the windows of the van ahead, waving their arms and pointing at the snow piled everywhere. We stopped on top of the mountain, taking pictures looking down into the beautiful town of Silverton. Everyone got out to see the beauty. They were so excited to see the town. Eddie was happy to see all the beautiful snow; he finally realized he had not hitchhiked all the way to Hurst the night before, and we had not left him stranded at Walmart in Amarillo. Kristi was speaking to Bill, and Julie had to go to the bathroom. All was well in our family.

We drove into the town, amazed at the beauty and snow, and we found our bed and breakfast, Alma House, nestled in snowdrifts. We all settled into our rooms in the 100-year-old house, and headed out to find a place to eat. By then, it was dark and the town was like a picture post card. Christmas lights were twinkling on houses in the snow. The town seemed deserted. After a good dinner in a beautiful old café, we all walked back to Alma House together in the snow, laughing and talking, tired but happy.

We had a great time that Christmas. We had taken Jack and Easy, the Jack Russell Terriers, with us. Eddie had such a good time with Brad, taking the dogs out to play and go for walks in the snow. We watched the kids learning to ski down the snow-covered mountain, and went for long drives to explore old mines. We prowled through all the old shops in the town. We even got our picture taken at one of those old-time studios where Eddie dressed as the sheriff.

It was a memorable trip for my family. We took one more trip to Colorado a few years later, which was Eddie’s last one. There were good memories on that trip, too. I will write about that last Christmas trip another time.

Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office.

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