Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Vacation to Graceland" by Phillip Cornell

Vacation to Graceland
by Phillip Cornell

Vacation to Graceland by Phillip Cornell is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A man, his mother, his sister, his granny, his niece, and his nephew make a trip to Memphis Tennessee for a family reunion. During the course of the trip, the family encounter a series of circumstances that mold the trip into an unforgettable experience. Through the arguing and internal bickering within the group, they come together and strengthen the blood bond they share with each other. Reflecting on each and every situation encountered, the man realizes the trip is an overall social, emotional, and educational journey.

Book Video

Chapter 1
The idea of a family trip started, when my mom devised a plan to take my granny on a weekend trip. This was difficult because my granny was on a weekly dialysis schedule, so my mom had to come up with a way to keep her schedule and transport her from one city to the next without any problems. My grandma had been on dialysis for the past 2 ½ years, and with her increasing age and decreasing health she needed more attention from care givers and family members.
The living arrangement in my mom’s house was setup like this. My mom, my sister Brandi, and my granny all lived there constantly. My other sister Crissy and her children did not live there, but they would visit often. I myself would visit quite often also. My job was 2 miles from my mom’s house so it was nothing for me to visit on my lunch break or when I got off work. My granny anticipated me coming over many times, so she would cook a meal for me, and place my name on the plate. It was not the perfect living arrangement, but it definitely had a strong family feel tied into it.
My granny kept close tabs on what my mom and sister was always doing, because that is just who she was. She still liked to get out the house ever once in a while. Her favorite pastime was people watching. If there was one thing that she enjoyed, it was talking about other people. This is a trait that has been handed down from generation to generation, and I myself am guilty of doing it also. Discussing people in a humorous light that downgrades their physical appearance or personality is second nature to me now. I can easily do it without any effort or stress. The thoughts just come to my head, and I let the mild form of slander flow. I have never been embarrassed of this, and like me, my granny was neither.
Seeing that my granny did not like to be left out on a traveling experience, my mom knew that if she was to try to go anywhere out of town, she had to bring her. If my mom left without my granny, then my grandma would shun her for not including her on the trip. One time my mom did sneak out of town. She left with her best friend to plan the funeral of her friend’s brother. My mom knew it was going to be a problem with my granny, so she did not tell her until she was already on the road. When my granny found out my mom left her, she threw a fit and started crying. My sister Brandi tried to explain to her that the trip was for business and not pleasure, but my granny did not care. She just knew that my mom was out on an adventure without her.
Knowing all of this information, my mom knew the next time she left town that my granny was coming no matter what. She called the dialysis center and my grandma was scheduled for dialysis the day before they left for the trip, and the day after they returned home from the trip. My mom was not sure how everything was going to work out, but solidifying my granny’s dialysis schedule was the most important thing. Once that was done, then the trip as a whole was a green light.
One day while I was stopping by my mom’s house after I got off work, my mom asked me if I wanted to go with her to a family reunion in Memphis Tennessee. I had never been to Memphis, so I agreed to it just for a new experience. My mom told me that it would be $25 to attend the reunion and that my transportation and housing would be taken care of. In my mind, I saw it as me having a free trip. I had absolutely no worries.
My mother and I had the conversation about the family reunion in late May. I asked my mom what weekend I needed to take off of my job. She told me the weekend after the 4th of July, so I requested the days off and had it set in my mind that I would be visiting Memphis at some point in time in July. When the month of July was very close I decided to look at my job schedule to see if I had the right days off.
Somehow I managed to take off the wrong weekend. I noticed this mistake exactly 2 weeks before the departure date. I immediately told my boss about my mistake and she and I scrambled to get my shifts covered for the correct dates. Between the both of us we were able to get the right shifts covered, and I did not have to lose the shift I had originally taken off a month previously. I only had to take off one shift to make the trip, but that one shift was enough to throw me for a spin.
After fixing my requested time off I decided to take the trip more seriously. I asked my mom how we were going to get to Memphis and who all was going. She told me we would be driving in her Nissan Murano that was a 5 passenger SUV. She then told me the passengers of the vehicle would include her, my granny, my sister Crissy, and her 2 children. One of Crissy’s children was 8 years old and the other was 6 years old. I immediately counted the number of people attending the trip on my fingers. After I was done counting I noticed 6 people including myself would be riding in my mom’s SUV. I was confused seeing that her SUV comfortably holds 5 people, and we were fitting 6 people into it. I asked my mom about the travel arrangements, and she got a whole attitude with me. She asked me if I wanted to drive my car, and that I was welcome to spend my money on gas if I wanted to. This made me mad, because I did not sign up for this. We lived in North County in St. Louis Missouri. The trip to Memphis was going to take us 4 ½ to 5 hours to reach our destination. I asked my mom how she thought that piling 6 people into her SUV was a good idea. My mom told me that she had fit 6 people into her SUV before, and that my nephew Chaz does not take up that much space. I asked her where she went with the 6 people in her car. She told me that she went to Outback Steakhouse. The Outback Steakhouse was at most 15 minutes from her house. She looked at me in my face and compared a 15 minute car ride to a 5 hour road trip. Now at this point I was no longer mad I was angry. I could not see how this comparison was valid, but somehow it made perfect sense to her. I told my mom I would look into getting a Mega Bus ticket, and I would get back with her on if I would be riding with them to Memphis. After that statement I decided to leave it alone, because no matter how much I argued with my mom there was no way of showing her the error of her logic.
I just bided my time until it was the day of the actual trip. I did not successfully find a Mega Bus ticket because I did not look. I had all intensions of looking for a Mega Bus ticket, it just did not happen. Now I was stuck in the crowded car full of people. I could not complain because it was my fault. I still gave my mom a hard time about the full car of people all the way up until the trip. Every time she heard me complain she would rebuttal by saying that I could drive if I wanted the leg room that the driver seat had. She knew I would decline, but I would entertain her request every once in a while. I knew there was no escaping the long and gruesome tip to Memphis that I was about to take.
On the actual day of departure my mom told me to meet at her house at 12:00 noon. I was told Crissy had to work that day, and we were going to pick her up from her job downtown. After we got her, we would leave immediately from her job and head towards Memphis. This sounded perfect to me. I got a good night sleep, and packed my bag that morning. I was accustomed to packing, so the process of double checking my bag was effortless. The most important thing about packing is making sure you have a complete toiletry kit and one more pair of underwear and socks than you actually need for the trip. I always carry at least one pair of long pants and one pair of shorts. I then make sure I have a jacket or a hooded sweatshirt. You can look at the weather  forecast  all you want, but there is no guarantee the weather will be like the forecast predicted upon arrival.
I dressed in some basketball shorts and a t-shirt. I also put on one of my most comfortable pair of shoes. I dressed like this because I am a firm believer that while traveling you should travel as comfortable as possible. I made sure my phone was fully charged, and that I had a pair of good headphones with me. There was no way I was going to be caught in an overcrowded vehicle without my headphones. That was not an option for me. I grabbed my bag and shoe box, then left my apartment and headed over to my mom’s house.
I had not gone on a family trip in years. It was mostly because I had gotten older and grown into adulthood. I just wanted to travel with my friends more than with my family. Another reason was because my dad died of colon cancer 7 years previously, so the trips I use to enjoy as a child could not be relived without him being there physically. My mom, dad, Brandi, myself and whoever else wanted to tag along would go on a family trip once a year. We went to all types of places even Canada. Once I became a teenager I started going on 2 week long hiking trips with my dad through the Boy Scouts of America. This took the place of the traditional family trips, but I was still with my dad. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, all the focus went to him beating the disease. Once he died, we mourned as a family and found a way to piece our lives back together. One of the ways of doing this was learning to enjoy ourselves without him being around.
My mom, Brandi, and I lived in the house for a year adjusting to our new life then I left for college. While I was at college my mom told me she was getting rid of my room and my grandma was moving in. My granny was a widow also, so the loneliness both of them had could be subsided by each other and the company of their children. For my granny it was my mom, and for my mom it was Brandi. Before my granny had kidney failure and had to go on dialysis, my mom, Brandi, and granny went on a trip to the Bahamas without me. They did not tell me until 2 days before they left. My mom wanted to make sure the dogs were fed, and that I let them out to use the bathroom when they needed to go. This sucked because I wanted to go, but I was more concerned about making money at my job then spending time with my family in the islands. It was a decision I made, but I got over it. I assumed there would be more trips, but my granny got sick and the whole idea of going on another family trip just vanished.
Now that my mom found a way to work around my granny’s sickness, I was headed to my mom’s house trying to embark on a trip to Memphis. When I turned down my mom’s street I noticed something that would set the tone for the entire trip. My mom lives at the bottom of a long street that ends in a cul-de- sac. Her house and about 5 other homes form the cul-de-sac. As I drove down the street, I see my granny joy riding on her scooter around the cul-de-sac. I had to dodge her on the scooter in order to pull into the driveway. The garage door was already up, so I hoped out of my car and put my luggage in the back of my mom’s SUV. I then walked in the house to see what was going on.
I was confused. My grandma was in the cul-de-sac riding her motorized scooter for fun, and my mom was trying to make sure everyone’s luggage was properly packed into the back of her SUV. My mom started sewing a couple of months prior as a hobby. She was really not all that good at being a seamstress, but she was rapidly improving at her craft. She made an outfit for my 8 year old niece Bria to wear, but it did not fit her right. Bria was modeling the outfit for my mom and Brandi when I walked in the house. They were trying to figure out how they could fix the outfit, so she could wear it on the trip. After deliberation between the both of them, they decided to go to K-Mart and buy Bria an outfit to replace the outfit my mom had sewn together.
Once this decision was made my mom looked at me and said, “You and I are going to go to the store!” She said we are going to get what we need, then come back home immediately. I agreed because I did not have a choice. My mom and I then walked to my car in the driveway. When we got to my car my granny pulled up on her scooter. The garage door was still up, and my granny told my mom that she wanted to take the scooter with her on the trip. My mom said, “Huh?” My granny repeated that she wanted to take the scooter with her on the trip. My mom then looked at me, so I took that as a clue to unpack the SUV and repack it with the scooter in the back of it. I broke down my granny’s scooter and took everything out the back of the SUV. Good thing Crissy had already dropped her and the kid’s luggage off at my mom’s house the night before, so I knew how much stuff actually had to go in the back of the vehicle. I packed everything back into the SUV with the scooter at the bottom, and it surprisingly fit.
When I was done my mom told me lets go before we run out of time. We still had to pick up Crissy from work, and my mom did not want to be late. When my Granny heard my mom say let’s go, she asked where we going. My mom said to the store. Then my granny asked if she could come. I immediately said no. Every time my granny goes somewhere with us it makes a 20 minute trip into an hour long trip. I knew this was going to happen, so I tried to avoid it. My mom told me that I could not tell my grandma no. She then told my granny to come on, and we all loaded into my car. I shook my head because I knew what was about to happen.
During the drive to K-Mart we passed the liquor store. My granny pointed to it and said, “Stop! I got to get me some tickets.” My granny was addicted to scratch off tickets. She would win sometimes, but she mainly did it for recreation. She claimed every 2 months that she was going quit, but then she would get the itch and had to play her scratch off tickets. My mom told her no and that we would drop her off at the grocery store to get her some tickets. Her plan was for us to drop her off at the Shop N Save, and we would get what we needed from K-Mart. Then we would pick my granny up from Shop N Save. This plan made sense because the Shop N Save was in the same plaza as the K-Mart. This enabled us to kill two birds with one stone. I told my mom it was a scratch off machine in K-Mart, but she insisted it was not. I did not argue with her because I was not 100 percent sure myself. I dropped my Granny off at the Shop N Save then my mom and I went to the K-Mart.
When we entered the K-Mart my mom went to the clothing department to find some clothes for Bria. I went to the outdoor section to find some bug spray. Apparently when my mom went to Memphis 10 years ago, the place where we were having the barbecue had a really bad tick problem. Brandi told me I needed to find a bug spray with a higher than regular percentage of deet in it. I searched the outdoor section of K- Mart for about 10 minutes before I found the bug spray. I called Brandi to confirm I was getting the correct bug spray then I set out to find my mom in the clothing department. When I found my mom she was already in the checkout line. She did not text or call to me to tell me she was done. She just hopped in line and waited on me to find her.
I joined my mom in line, and put the bug spray with the items she was purchasing. When we made it to the cashier, the cashier informed my mom that she had $50 in reward points. My mom started talking with me how Crissy could use the money on school supplies for my niece and nephew. I listened to her to be courteous, but I did not really care. I was ready to pick my granny up and get the road trip started. My mom made her purchases then we started to leave the store. While we were nearing the door I saw a scratch off machine for the Missouri lottery. I told my mom I knew K-Mart had a scratch off machine, and my mom looked at the machine and laughed. She then stated my Granny would not have liked the tickets in it anyway. I looked at the tickets inside the machine and I reluctantly agreed with her.
My mom and I got back to my car and drove up to the Shop N Save. My granny was sitting on the bench outside the store waiting on us to pick her up. She had already scratched off all the tickets she purchased. She threw away the losers and put the winners in her handbag. After I helped my grandma get into the SUV we went back to the house. We were gone for about 50 minutes. It was not quite an hour, but it was pretty close. I did not complain. I just rolled with the blows and kept on moving.
Upon arriving at the house we double checked we had everything we needed for the trip. After everything was checked my mom told everyone to get in the SUV. Chaz was eating some ice cream out of a cup when my mom said this. Because he was eating some ice cream, Bria wanted to eat some ice cream. Chaz was nearly done eating so Brandi told Bria no. She told her she had to leave with us, and there was no time for her to eat any ice cream. My mom did not allow Bria or Chaz to eat in her SUV, so if Bria did not already have the ice cream then she was not going to get it. This conversation between Brandi and Bria happened in the garage next to my mom’s SUV. Shortly after Brandi told Bria no, my granny walked out the house with a plate of ice cream eating it. My mom and Brandi looked at her with the same look. It was the look that she knew better than to be eating ice cream in the SUV also. My mom saw my granny then said, “Dang! We got to wait for her to finish her ice cream.” She told Bria she could go get some ice cream, and we waited for everyone to finish their helpings. When everyone finished their ice cream we set out on the road to pick up Crissy from work.
Brandi decided not to go with us on the trip. She told me she was going to have the house to herself, and have plenty of alone time. Brandi was happy she did not have to watch Chaz, Bria, or my granny. I asked her before we left if she could wash my car. She actually agreed without any extra incentive, and I thanked her in advance. I personally hate when people make plans for me on my off days, so I know Brandi being my sister is the same way. Brandi did not work or go to school. She was strictly a caregiver for my grandmother. Crissy would use Brandi to babysit and help with Chaz and Bria when it was convenient for both of them. Between all this babysitting and being a caregiver, this trip provided a nice vacation from responsibilities for her. All Brandi had to worry about was having the house clean when my mom returned home, and now making sure my car was washed.

Praise for the Book
"Great read! Laugh out loud funny. I could not put the book down once I started reading it!" ~ Adam
"This book was absolutely hilarious!!!!! I laughed through the whole book!" ~ Brandbrand

About the Author
Phillip Cornell is a college graduate. He gained his degree in Biological Sciences, and currently works at a local pharmacy. He is the only son of Harron and Connie Cornell, and the youngest of three children. In 2006 his father passed away due to colon cancer, and his mom became an inspiration to him and his family in the way she supported everyone. He has a passion for all types of competitive activity, with sports being the favorite. Overall he lives for different experiences to stimulate the mind, and firmly believes that life is something that has to be lived, read about, and dissected. His biggest weakness is beautiful women, and the thought of being a failure. Firmly believing everyone deserves their moment no matter how long or short it is, Phillip listens to anyone who has something to say. The more he writes. The more he realizes what he creates, is something that needs to be shared with someone other than himself.