A Left Coast Christmas

My flight landed in Portland and my eyes lit up in excitement once I got out of the secured area. My two sisters were waiting for me, and I ran forward to hug both of them. I missed both of you so much, I said.

I missed you too, They both said in unison.

I assume you need to claim baggage, Jessica said.

I do. Dad isn’t here, I asked, puzzled.

Rachel rolled her eyes and said, He had to work. Ugh!

Jess, I thought you lived up near Seattle. Yes, I’m happy to see you and everything, I said as I started piloting her wheelchair.

We made our way to PDX’s baggage claim area as Jessica explained, I took my paid vacation and planned everything with Rachel so we could both be here to greet you.

That is my bag, I said as I pulled one of the suitcases off of the belt, Where to?

Rachel giggled, Here in Portland, the airport is connected by train then we take a couple of buses into Vancouver. Jess got a hotel since Daddy still lives upstairs. Here, you will need this. It is your bus pass. Rachel handed me a card as we got outside. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, Rachel said as both she and Jessica adjusted their coats. It was raining and blustery, an apparent trademark of living in this part of the country, as we got onto the train platform. The next train was in 5 minutes, and I was just glad that I got to be with my two sisters again.

The train arrived, and we found seats near the wheelchair area. We need to take this train to Rose Quarter and catch the Yellow Line to Vanport, where we catch a bus across the river to Vancouver, then one more bus to the hotel, Rachel explained, showing me the system map of Portland’s light rail system.

Beaverton, I asked, thought we were going to Portland.

This train goes through Downtown Portland then continues to Beaverton. We are getting off before then and changing trains to Delta Park/Vanport, My little sister explained patiently.

We arrived at Rose Quarter and Rachel said, This way. We have to change platforms.

Rachel took my suitcase and I piloted Jessica’s wheelchair as Rachel pointed us towards the other train platform. The ride to Delta Park was not long at all, and Rachel said, The 6 will take us into Vancouver, and from there we catch the 4 to the hotel.

The 4 dropped us off at the hotel, and Rachel again took my suitcase while I piloted Jessica. We arrived in the room, and I noticed that it was one big bed. One bed, I asked.

Yeah, Jessica giggled, It’s big enough to share.

We miss sharing the sofa, Rachel said, offering me a hug, We miss triple sibling cuddles.

Toilet, change into PJs, and lets start heading to bed, Jessica said.

I suppose we both can help you, Rachel said.

Yes please, Jessica replied, blushing and giggling.

After restroom and changing into PJs, the three of us climbed into bed. I will admit that I miss sibling cuddles, I said, hugging both of my sisters.

A Clark County Christmas

Morning rolled around, and I was the first to wake up. Left Coast Time, Rachel asked with a yawn.

Left Coast Time, I replied, as Jessica also let out a yawn. When we finish waking up, we need the 7. We are going to meet Dad at Freddy’s, Rachel said.

I should call. You know dad sometimes forgets, Jessica said. Rachel rolled her eyes.

Something I need to know, I asked my sisters.

Oh, just dad being dad, Jessica grunted as she started getting dressed.

The three of us were dressed, and at the bus stop by the hotel to head to Freddy’s. We need the 7 heading towards Battle Ground, Rachel said.

Doesn’t your 72 also go there, Jessica asked.

Yes, on its way back from Orchards, and you have to cross the street. We will want the 7, Rachel explained as buses started showing.

Battle Ground, Rachel said as one of the buses pulled up. That bus moved on, and soon the 7 was the next bus to pull up. This is us, Rachel said. The operator opened the door, and Rachel said, We’re riding. Wheelchair is going to Freddy’s on 117th.

The ride to Freddy’s was uneventful, and soon we were dropped off in front of a Jack restaurant, and we were surprised to see our father standing at the bus stop. What is this all about Rachel, He asked, with a bit of attitude, when Rachel exited out the back door of the bus.

You’ll see, Rachel said, trying to contain a big secret. Meanwhile, the operator deployed the wheelchair lift and, once Jessica was unhooked, I wheeled her off of the bus. Our father’s eyes lit up, as he has not seen Jessica or I in ages. He was rendered speechless, not having seen us since Thanksgiving.

Hi dad, I said as the bus pulled away, Yes I’m out here.

We should probably get inside before we get too cold and wet. My treat for breakfast, Jessica said.

No Cathy, Rachel asked.

Cathy’s working, Dad said.

Well then we can go to the Burger Arch, Rachel said, redirecting us to the car.

How do you expect me to get you in the car, Dad asked Jessica, rolling his eyes.

By folding my wheelchair into the trunk, Jessica groaned, Dad, don’t argue with me. I kind of wanted to enjoy the holiday with my family, and that includes you.

After a bunch of grumbling and bellyaching, we got in the car, and were on our way to the Burger Arch.

Jessica your wheelchair is really doing a number to my gas tank, Dad said as we made our way through a few turns and finally pulled into the parking lot.

My wheelchair is not that heavy. Cathy’s kid’s things are heavier and you don’t say anything, Jessica snorted as Rachel showed me how to get the wheelchair out of the trunk and set it up.

Once we placed our orders, got our food, and found a seat, Jessica said, First of all, Merry Christmas. This was 100% my idea to have a little family get together. Now, Dad, you still work at a storage place. Don’t you want to do better? Look at what I’ve done for myself even in this wheelchair. Yes, this is a hard conversation to have, and it is a conversation that we are going to have.

Dad was none too thrilled. While his oldest daughter did speak the truth, there was no way he could admit to it. That would mean admitting that being divorced was for the best — for mom. Jessica Marie Ragsdale, Dad started to say.

Don’t you Jessica Marie Ragsdale me. Not when I just nicely paid for a flight for your son to come visit you, Jessica snapped, Not when I bailed you out on a couple of car payments! She then continued in a normal voice, In exchange for not paying me back, I want you to get your high school equivalency. Our father groaned.

Rachel rolled her eyes and said, Do it dad! You need to better yourself.

Jessica said, Dad, for now lets enjoy the holiday. When January rolls around, either you accept my offer to get your education, or I expect car payments to resume in January.

Our father groaned, because this was the kind of talk a father was supposed to have with his child, not a talk a child was supposed to have with her father, and he knew it.

Cathy came out for break and saw the four of us eating breakfast and came over. What are you doing in Vancouver, Cathy asked, surprised to see us kids.

Well hello to you too, Jessica said, I wanted to see my family together for Christmas.

Cathy saw the glum look our father had and he told her to not worry about it. Jessica said, I made him a new deal for car payments and I don’t think he liked it. If he wants me to continue helping with the car, I want him to get his education.

Jess, lets try to do something as a family, I said.

Right, the whole reason you are here. Sorry, yes lets go do something. Rachel, you know the area better, being practically a walking Columbia Transit bus schedule. What is around here, Jessica asked.

The big mall is in Portland, and you probably want to see that instead of our little mall next to the hotel, Rachel said.

How do we get there, if we are taking the bus, Jessica asked.

What about the car, Dad asked.

Rachel said, You are going to leave it here for Cathy to bring herself home, then you are coming with us. It won’t kill you to ride the bus with us. Here, I even got you an All Day Pass.

Yes Dad, you are going to come with us to Portland and we are going to have family time, Jessica said, Now, Rachel. How do we get to the big mall?

The 80 back to our mall, the 4 to Downtown Vancouver, the 6 to Delta Park, and finally the train drops you off right at the mall, Rachel said, without missing a beat. My baby sister really was a walking bus schedule.

Why don’t you just go to the mall here in Vancouver, Cathy asked.

And what is wrong with wanting to go to Portland, Jessica retorted.

Gas? Parking? Cathy asked, as if it was supposed to be obvious.

Bus Pass, Jessica replied, Rachel, what time is the next 80?

Ten minutes, She replied, looking at her watch.

Shopping in Portland

The train dropped us off in Portland, and Rachel wheeled Jessica to the mall. Largest mall in Oregon, Rachel said excitedly.

Why are you and Cathy being so stingy, I asked, looking expectantly at my father.

Money. I have relatively plenty, and they don’t. I want them to do better for themselves, but they don’t want to put in the effort. Just look at how daddy responded to me wanting him to get his education, Jessica explained as we made our way through one of the main halls of the mall.

I kind of wanted to have a family for Christmas, Rachel whimpered, I didn’t care about money.

We understand, Jessica said, understanding that her sister was upset that the Christmas holiday was already starting off on the wrong foot, as our father played caboose to our little train, Now, Dad. We get it: you don’t feel comfortable mentioning things in front of Cathy, but it is just us your kids now.

I miss your mother, Dad said.

We know that and that is behind you now. You said you wanted to get Far, fa-regular Away, but none of us expected you would come all the way out here to the Left Coast. Now, we want to help you rebuild your life, starting with your education. We think you can do a lot better than manager at a self storage place, Jessica said, Stop thinking about the past, and let’s get your future squared away.

My two sisters, with Rachel in the lead since she knew the mall the best, started taking us from store to store to buy things. I was surprised at how much Jessica’s wheelchair could carry, but it was mostly small things since we would have to take public transit back to Vancouver where our hotel was. We should probably get the train before we get carried away with buying the whole mall, Jessica giggled, as the four of us were now loaded with bags.

This way to the train station, Rachel said, and led us on.

We eventually arrived back at the hotel in Vancouver, and Jessica opened the door. The rest of us followed, and Jessica said, Now that we are in private, Dad, let’s talk. We want to have a nice family dinner, but you are on the second floor.

Federal Way via Interstate 5

Dad, we want you to come to my apartment for a bit, Jessica said, I will be getting us gas, and it isn’t that far, considering how fa-regular away we are from Virginia.