Taryn writing her gift list for her friends and family...
I wake up and for the first few moments after I awake, it is an ordinary day for me.
In Paris, mind you...but an ordinary day, nonetheless.
Then, I remember, this is the day that my granddaughter goes home.
She's already showered, her hair is wound up turban-style in a huge bath towel and she's hurrying to get ready.
Within 45 minutes, we are done.
She's been packed since last night and is so organized, it amazes me. She has everything ready to go.
Time to leave the apartment and walk across Luxembourg Jardin to the RER at Luxembourg station. A friend of mine who lives just south of the garden gave me explicit directions to take the RER train to Charles de Gaulle airport, and we've already been to the area to buy the tickets, so we at least know where it is and how to get there.
The elevator in our apartment building is miniscule, so the granddarling gets in first, with her luggage. She goes down to the lobby and then sends the elevator back up for me. As I reach the lobby level, I realize I've forgotten my umbrella, and it's spitting rain outside, so I make as fast a return trip to the apartment as the elevator will allow, grab the umbrella and go back down to the lobby.
As I arrive and open the elevator door, I ask her, "Did you remember your ticket?"
Back to the apartment, snatch the ticket from on top of the mantel.
Back to the elevator and back to the lobby.
Now we are ready to leave!
Walking through the Luxembourg Jardin and arriving at the underground station takes about 10 minutes, and the only thing to do now is make sure we get on the right train, going in the right direction. I ask a woman beside us at the station and she tells me something, but I don't understand her. I ask another woman who is sitting on a bench, and she says she is also taking that train, so she invites us to watch her and get on when she does.
What a relief that is!
A very kind person willing to help...how nice!
I hate not knowing where I'm going and I hate it most when I am not in my own familiar environment. There's nothing that will make me feel stupid fasterr than a situation like this one, so I made sure to plan and re-plan the entire trip yesterday to make it go as smooth as possible.
The train pulls in, the other woman boards and smiles and beckons us to board also.
The train is packed with commuters, so there is standing room only for now.
It is hot hot hot on this train! I can feel sweat running down my face and neck as I relax into the wall of the train behind me. I thought this might happen so I packed a few paper towels, just in case.
Wiping my face with them, I'm embarrassed to see that they are crumbling like bad toilet paper as the sweat soaks into them! I am left with a handful of little rolled balls of paper towels.
WET balls of paper towels.
Hiding the soggy mess in my purse, I run my hands over my face to catch any stray bits that I might have missed.
Taryn is doing well, holding her luggage upright and taking care not to allow it to bump into anyone. This is something that I admire in this lovely woman who is my granddaughter...she is so thoughtful and caring of others, and makes sure that she is not imposing herself on anyone.
I catch her eye and give her a quick wink to let her know that I appreciate how well she is handling this trip to the airport.
We arrive at the first CDG stop and get off the train, catch the shuttle that is waiting and ride it to the terminal.
The wrong terminal.
We go back to the shuttle, ride it to the correct terminal and finally arrive in the departures hall.
I'd pre-boarded Taryn via the Air Canada website, so now we only have to retrieve her boarding pass from the automatic dispenser and she's good to go. The boarding pass is printed and she and I go to the express lane for pre-boarded passengers. Handing her passport and boarding pass to the ticket agent, we tell her where Taryn is going...the agent tells us there should have been two boarding passes printed, and because we only received one, we now have to walk across the terminal to the Air Canada service counter for the other boarding pass.
By this time, I'm getting very anxious about the time we are spending making all of these little side trips for various reasons. We arrive at the Air Canada service counter, explain what has happened, and the darling woman there takes Taryn's passport and boarding pass and returns a few moments later with the other pass, now neatly printed out for her!
As we are leaving to go back to the check-in counter, the Air Canada service person softly asks me why the agent at the check-in counter didn't give us the boarding pass when she saw that we needed the second pass...I tell her I don't know and she is appalled that this was not done. She tells me quietly, " She could have done that for you. I'm really sorry for this!"
How cool is that?
Another example of a kind person taking care of her customers.
Finally, everything has been done. The luggage has been checked and my granddaughter is ready to go through passport control. One of the service personel comes up to us, hands a rolled package to Taryn...her precious poster that she bought for herself in the Louvre gift shop!
My mistake! I was carrying it for her and I left it on the counter at the Air Canada service area. Yet, another example of a kind person taking care of us.
This is such a good feeling!
This woman also very kindly explains to us that Taryn will have to get her luggage from the flight when she arrives in Toronto and go through Customs there rather than in Edmonton, because the boarding passes are not together on one ticket...that won't allow her to transit directly to the Edmonton flight.
As we stand in line for passport control, she asks me what that means...I begin to explain it to her and then the light goes on!
"I know!" she says. "I remember from Tour Group!"
Last year, her class went to England, Wales and Ireland with their high school Tour Group and it all clicks for her. I am relieved because I was becoming quite concerned for her making this flight, with the latest wrinkle about Customs in Toronto. But, now I can relax as she knows what is going on and I feel a little better about her taking this flight by herself.
Soon, it becomes obvious that I cannot walk any further with her in the lineup, so we hug and say goodbye to each other. As usual, my heart hurts with this goodbye and my eyes fill with tears. I know she would rather I didn't cry. For as long as I can remember, saying goodbye to my children and grandchildren brings me to tears and I'm not sure why. It happens when they leave me, and in fact, just as much when I leave them to go somewhere.
I do my best to suck it up for her, but my emotion is stronger than my mind and as this tiny perfectly lovely person walks into the crowd, I cannot breathe and I cannot swallow the tears anymore. She looks back at me and shakes her head with a gentle roll of her eyes, as if to say, " Grandma, Grandma, Grandma...what am I going to do with you?"
Standing beside the cart return for as long as I can see her among the crowd, I'm filled with such a feeling of love and pride in this little child who has grown into a fiercely independent and gusty young woman. She might be only a hair over five feet tall, but she has the determination and the strength of character of someone ten feet tall. Why am I not surprised? She comes from a long line of strong and courageous women...my grandmother, my mother, me and my daughter, her mother. There's something to be said for a good gene pool, I think!
"You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandmother is."
~ Irish proverb
Taryn and Uncle Mikey walking by the Tolerance pieces in Luxembourg Jardin