I often wonder, when I’m reading an article, it’s roots or origin — what was the kernel of inspiration.
This column, in case you’re wondering, finds its origins near the flat Delta land of Mississippi in the summer of 1985.
My mom, best friend and maternal grandfather were making one of those memorable “family trips” to a condo in Florida where we would catch up with the rest of the family who all had the good foresight to skip out of town a day earlier to avoid a long car ride with Grandaddy.
We all loved him and, at 85, he was still one of the toughest, strongest people I’d ever met, but his mind was deteriorating and he was more than a handful to haul across a state.
I don’t think we had crossed the county line yet when I heard the first comment from the backseat.
“Are we there yet?”
I looked in the rearview mirror. Grandaddy sat back there as solemn as a cigar story Indian; there was no irony in the statement; he genuinely wanted to know.
“No, sir,” I said. “We’re not there yet.”
“Are we there yet” became Grandaddy’s mantra over the next 8 hours (including pit stops). Sometimes it was my best friend, nudging me in the ribs, who said it. Once, I think my mom even asked. Needless to say, 23 years later, it has become family mythology and what I remember most, and best, about that vacation.