John Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2011

Return greeting punctuates trip as successful

 The week has been a blur with grandson Eli Taylor’s first Mississippi visit. His itinerary, we now know, was overly ambitious. Not for him. For the rest of us.

First from Milwaukee to Memphis by plane, then to Panola County for a few days where he met for the first time cousins, aunts and uncles. He also met for the first time three of his four great-grandmothers.

He spent the night in his great-grandmother Annie-Glenn’s house, then two nights with his grandad and grandmother Lowell and Linda Taylor and then went to Holcomb to spend the next night with his Uncle David and Aunt Charlotte.

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With me so far?

From Holcomb we went to New Orleans to visit grandmother Rosemary for a few more days.

By this time, seven-month-old Eli had become, if he not been before, thoroughly a mama’s boy. Mary was his one familiar constant in the ever-changing swirl of faces that came cooing and smiling his way. He smiled back, too, as long as his mother was nearby.

But he didn’t “coo.” He made a little “g-r-r-d-d-r-r-g-g-r-r-d-d” sound not unlike that of a purring damncat and with the same sentiment.

Three nights in New Orleans, then another six-plus-hours road trip back to Batesville for another night at Annie-Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast before arising very early the next morning to catch the flight from Memphis back to Milwaukee only to learn minutes before the scheduled takeoff that there would be no takeoff, that the flight had been cancelled.

No explanation, no nothing, but they could take the next flight which involved a plane change in Atlanta which place the whole trip had been planned around avoiding in the first place.

After retrieving with some difficulty the checked luggage that contained the bottles and formula necessary to sustain the little fellow until a non-stop flight that would be leaving at 2:30 p.m., we settled in, killing time.

Meanwhile Eli said, G-r-r-d-d-r-r-g-g-r-r-d-d and grinned at the folks who smiled and cooed.

With every airport visit I am reminded what a great victory the terrorists have put over on us. Sock-footed passengers submit to humiliating searches. Baby bottles are exempt from the maximum allowed liquids, but Transportation Security Administration officers handle each bottle, opening them and going through proscribed rituals to be sure the liquid in the bottle is not going to blow the plane out of the sky.

And when I ventured too close to a “No Entrance” sign to get a closer last look at Eli and his mother as they walked toward their boarding gate, a TSA officer warned me to step back. It reminded me of the accounts I’ve read about airline passengers who must be subdued in flight because they have exhibited erratic behavior. I wondered just what it was that finally pushed them over the edge.

Before their departure, Eli’s mother said that if anyone wants to see the boy anytime soon, they will need to come there.

After the landing, she said that Eli laughed when he saw his daddy. That meant that the trip was a success, in spite of what had been a grueling itinerary and the airline foibles.