Connie and Cathey with Grandma N in Galesburg

When I was in elementary school, my family lived in Ohio and we took frequent car trips to Galesburg, Illinois where my four grandparents and various aunts, uncles, and cousins lived.  My parents would wake my younger sister and me up at 5:00 in the morning (my much younger sister and brother didn’t appear in my life until later), load us and all our stuff into our Chevrolet, and strike out for points west…or at least further midwest.

Making the trip in good time was the highest priority.  My parents even switched off driving without pulling off the road.  They just crawled over one another in the front seat, one of them keeping hold of the steering wheel, until my father said (with great authority) “Now!” which meant the person not holding the steering wheel should grab it and take over while they finished wriggling into their new positions.  My mom and dad are eighty-five and eighty-eight and, as of this writing still driving.  They no longer perform their driver-switch trick, though.  Not in front of my sister or me, anyway.

Every time we set off for Galesburg when I was a child, my mother made sure we were scrubbed and combed and dressed in our better-than-ordinary clothes.  I always felt a glow, when my dad turned the key in the ignition.  I was all fresh and expectant, thinking about the relatives I was going to see.  As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, however, one thought banished all others:  I wonder if I’ll make it to Galesburg without throwing up.

Perhaps because I firmly believe in confronting my demons head on, it seems altogether fitting that I, a child plagued by motion sickness, should grow up to write a book entitled Just Fine the Way They Are that moves…and I mean moves!  In thirty-two pages, it moves through 200 years of U.S. history; in thirty-two pages, it moves from the east coast to the midwest across dirt roads and railroads and paved interstates; it moves on wagons and stagecoaches and trains and cars and beyond.  Trust me, the book moves.

And only if you happen to take a peek at the dedication, would you ever guess it was written by a woman who, in her younger years, couldn’t make it down the block without blowing her cookies.