A Grand Ole Adventure

My sister’s a real trooper. Her husband is off serving in Iraq, and she’s on her own looking after three kids under the age of five. She’s virtually alone in Atlanta – Burt’s family is in Fort Lauderdale, and we’re recently out here in the Nashville area. But Beth is just one of those special folks who never complains. She somehow manages to see the good in any situation, and is always ready to help those she sees as less fortunate than herself.

Beth is a huge country fan. I firmly believe that it’s her deep love of music that has given her such a positive outlook on life. She’s always whistling or humming, and never seems to let up on her favorite activity; making mixed CDs of her favorite songs and sending them to the important people in her life. The last time I spoke to Burt, he was simply overjoyed at having just received Beth’s latest mix.

That’s when I had the idea to invite Beth and the kids to Nashville for a few days of well-deserved R&R. We’d spend quality time together. George would watch the kids, and I’d arrange a really special surprise for Beth. As a publicist, I had some pretty good connections on the Nashville music scene, and I’d just recently done some work with the Grand Ole Opry, a live-entertainment phenomenon dedicated to honoring country music’s rich heritage. Every year hundreds of thousands of country music pilgrims travel from all over the world to attend the show live. Now, Beth would be one of them.

Early Friday evening, Beth and the kids pulled into the driveway in her GMC Yukon XL. As we hugged in greeting, I could sense a quiet unease in Beth’s demeanor, a tension that spoke of months of separation from her beloved husband and a need to share some of the stress, if only for a while. Of course, George and I were more than willing to pick up the slack.

After a wonderful dinner, the kids went to bed and Beth and I spent time catching up. I talked about the approaching birth of my twins, and Beth spoke of George and how she was looking forward to his homecoming in six months. When Beth asked about the next day’s plans, I said we’d play it by ear.

Saturday morning, we all piled into the Yukon and Beth let me drive. I have to say, I was really taken with the vehicle, and was quite delighted to be in the driver’s seat as we toured around Nashville. Following a scrumptious breakfast of sweet potato pancakes at the Pancake Pantry, we visited Fort Nashborough, a reconstruction of the original settlement in Nashville. Then it was on to the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

I then told Beth that we were dropping George and the kids back at home, and we were going on a girls’ night out. Fast forward three hours, and we were approaching the backstage entrance of the Grand Ole Opry House. When Beth finally figured out where we were going, she squealed with delight and clapped her hands together like a schoolgirl.

It was a night to remember. So many of Beth’s favorite artists were on the bill – Vince Gill, Gillian Welch, Alison Krause, and Rickie Skaggs to name a few. She even got to hang out with Carrie Underwood backstage. One of the highlights of the evening was watching Beth fight with Steve Earle over the last barbequed rib. Needless to say, the girl got the grub!

The next four days went by in a blur, and when Beth and the children climbed back into the Yukon for the trip back from the Nashville area to Atlanta, we both announced our plans for the near future. Beth promised to return for the birth of my twins, and I announced my intention to buy my very own GMC Yukon XL to accommodate them.