It was a spectacular summer day in Hoosierland, and we were on the fly. Radio rocking our rental car, zooming at 75 mph on the Interstate, slicing Midwestern humidity like a butter knife.

We’d landed at O’Hare a couple of days earlier, intent on re-connecting first with old friends in Wilmette, Illinois. There I learned that I was highly allergic to cottonwood trees, the tree multipli-planted in the town. I sneezed, coughed, and sputtered until our friends drove us to dine out in contiguous city – and my symptoms rebounded at the Wilmette city limits sign.

We still had a great time, laughter and new memories replete. An enduring connection renewed. Spiked with wine and Flonase.

IU250 miles later we’d visited with my Aunt Betty, one of three 90+ year olds that were the focus of our visit. We walked the nearby campus of Indiana University, where my husband went to college.

And I should have. Not only is IU a picturesque campus, but I might have met Larry sooner, for a longer term of wedded bliss. 50 years might be looming, not 40. Then we’d be truly old-timers, err, time-tested and well-shared, I mean.

After dinner and an overnight stay with cousins, then brunch with another cousin the next morning, we were headed up to Indianapolis, on our way to Larry’s family reunion in Fort Wayne, venturing on to several sites in Michigan, intent on completing our quest. Two Interstate highways cross Indiana diagonally, roughly north-south, to suite our purpose well. We were crossing our fingers, eyes, and toes that we’d make it through. I wrote a post about it (before the final, harrowing 200-mile trek back to OHare Airport in a driving rain – a post of the future to be sure)

Whew! It was our annual whistle stop obligation trek: 1200 miles in eight days. So very Phileas Fogg and Passepartout! We didn’t have time for speeding tickets, so we needed to fly under the radar of the tri-states’ cops. And confine the boundaries of our trip.

Our wonderful sister-in-law, Rachel, inserted her dainty foot in our path, insisting on a visit. She was just over half the requisite age we’d green lighted for this particular road trip. Well, my brother worked at Sam’s Club within a block of the Interstate…and we’d need a potty stop anyway…why not! Lest you think us hard-hearted and crass, my husband and I had returned to visit our family over a hundred times since we moved to California in 1979.

parking lotRachel’s flex work schedule allowed pick-up of son, Alex, from high school, which just happened to end early that day. Ba-da-bing – we arranged a meet-up, mid-afternoon at Sam’s. How clandestine as surprise for my brother. How swiftly carried we felt.

We were wa-ay ahead of schedule when we exited the Interstate (swiftly carried...). When I called Rachel on her cell to share that we’d arrived in Sam’s vast parking lot, the size of two football fields, fully parked up…

She answered and flashed a Hoosier hospitality smile as she and Alex closed their car doors a couple of parking spaces away. God’s GPS. We hugged and arm-in-armed into the gigantic box store.

To cap things off, it was near my brother’s scheduled break time… Coincidence – no, God-incidence.

We had a several hour visit, par for the exhaustingly-packed trip, rather than several minutes. Family bonds refreshed with Pepsi and Doritos off the shelves, purchased at my brother’s discount.

Living life as a miracle in the paved paradise of a parking lot.