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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Redbud Trail

I know the drive from Louisville to St. Louis well.  Due west on highway 64, about 280 miles, depending on exact departure and arrival spots. With current speed limits and few stops you can make it in four and a half to five hours.

Born and raised in St. Louis and living in Louisville for over twenty years I've had many occasions to make the trip over the years. Trips to spend holidays with family.  Trips for a wedding, short visit or other occasion. In my parents' later years, many trips were to check on them during illnesses, go to doctors' appointments, or visit them in hospitals. 

I never will forget Sunday, May 8, 2005.  My Mother called to tell me my Father had died. I was soon on the road, driving to St. Louis. 

The drive is boring.  Flat, smooth interstate the whole way. with Evansville, IN about half way. Mount Vernon, IL about an hour before you get into downtown St. Louis. The iconic Arch standing out in the St. Louis skyline.  My Father had an interest in photography and he took photos of the Arch in all stages of its construction. 

On May 8, 2005, I saw the sun set behind the Arch in a spectacular sunset. In all the years of driving to St. Louis I had never before been on I-64 heading into St. Louis just at sunset. Before that time I had always planned the trips to arrive before rush hour and thus before sunset.

I drove I-64 again yesterday. My brother had been in a bike accident and I had gotten a call from the emergency room in St. Louis. In his concussed state, my name and number was the only contact that had come to him. 

This time the most remarkable part of the trip were the purple filigrees of Redbud trees decorating the interstate. Some of the Redbuds looked to have been recently planted, as they lined up in perfectly straight rows.  Others were interspersed amongst the taller trees, those wearing only the soft green of early spring. But throughout the drive, Redbuds were my constant companion, as if showing me the way from my present home to that of my childhood. 

My brother's injuries are of the kind that should heal well. Stitches in two rows at the eyebrow, scrapes across his face, hands, arms, and legs.  A dermabrasion, courtesy of the St. Louis streets.  We are hoping he has no long-term repercussions from the concussion, other than a firm commitment to never again get on his bike without a helmet.

Now that both of our parents have passed on, I don't make the trip nearly as often. Sometimes my brother comes to Louisville; sometimes we meet in other locations. But the Redbud blooms along I-64, just like a sunset over the Arch will always remind me of a particular drive along that route.

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