Hickory, NC - Laying Grandpa “Sonny” to Rest

My husband Matt alerted me that his grandpa Sonny passed away at the age of 89 and that we’d have to fly back to his hometown of Hickory, NC. The last time we visited was back in 2013, so it was going to be a family reunion under sad circumstances. 

First order of business was booking our American Airlines flights from LAX to CLT, then Courtyard Marriot hotel reservations, and reserving a Hertz rental car from Charlotte Douglas International airport. Having been the travel coordinator on family trips with my brothers, I actually enjoy booking everything and coming up with the logistics and itinerary.

We woke up early on Sunday morning, 8/15/22 and took an Uber from Marina Del Rey, CA to LAX. It was my first time riding in a Tesla and I embarrassingly rolled the windows down trying to open the car door lol. It was nice inside and felt “futuristic.” 

Upon getting dropped off at Tom Bradley Terminal B, we made our way through TSA Pre-check, then got some Starbucks coffee, chai tea oat milk lattes and breakfast while waiting an hour for boarding. (Next time, we will be using the United Sky Club lounge before our 10- year anniversary trip to Hawaii in October and we just got access to the Centurion Lounge through my new Amex Platinum card 🤗).

The flight from LAX to CLT took ~4.5 hours. During the flight, I watched Season 1 Ep. 1 of Yellowstone and then took a long nap. The annoying thing about this flight was that we had to put our carry on luggage in the overhead bins around row 22 when we were seated at row 13. It was like playing frogger trying to get our stuff during the end of the flight. 

Once we arrived in Charlotte, NC, the humidity was thick as we made our way to the rental center to pick up our Jeep Cherokee from Hertz. I then drove us 45 mins to Hickory, NC where we checked into our hotel. It was nice and clean. I was amazed that there wasn’t any traffic and it was peak rush hour time. (L.A. would be a parking lot).

We then got picked up for dinner by Matt’s dad and his wife. They took us to Kobe, a delicious Benihana type Japanese restaurant. 

Adjusting to east coast time was brutal. We woke up early and got ready to head to grandpa Sonny’s viewing at Willis-Reynolds’s Funeral Home at 6am PDT. 

Then, after meeting so many of grandpa Sonny’s friends and relatives, everyone headed to Crowell Church at 4256 Wilfong Rd, Lincolnton, NC 28092. A police car escorted us the whole way and I saw cars pulling over for us. I don’t think they do that here in L.A. so it was refreshing to see this level of respect.

During the ceremony, I got scared when the military guns fired. 

I surprisingly cried when grandpa Sonny’s friend said, “He used to end every conversation with, ‘Love ya.’” So true. 

Once the ceremony ended, everyone headed to El Serape Mexican restaurant where we ate “ACP” aka Arroz con pollo smothered in a delicious white queso. 

Pictured below from left to right is Matt’s dad Chuck, Matt, brother Chad, brother Alex, and Uncle Kim. Not pictured is Matt’s bro Andrew, me, sisters in law Brittany and Ashley, and MIL Courtney. 

After lunch, we dispersed and headed down the street to visit grandma Shirley, who we haven’t seen in 9 years. It was great hanging out with everyone although I was getting so sleepy due to the time change. We talked about grandma Shirley’s leg surgery, she showed us gruesome open wound photos, and told us how she’s recuperating, and we even got to see aunt Mandy, Alexis, and caught up with Chad and Brittany.

After visiting Matt’s grandma Shirley, we made our way back to our hotel to rest for a bit. I didn’t want to lay down since I would totally fall asleep and not have the energy to get back up. After a few hours, we headed to B&B Food-mart for potato wedges and liver mush sandwiches but to our dismay, they only served the sandwiches for breakfast. 

Then, we made our way to grandpa Sonny’s house where Matt’s dad cooked us some liver mush sandwiches. I realized I was the only one still wearing funeral clothes. We then looked through so many photos, recipe books and the family went down memory lane. I even got to meet Uncle Kim and Aunt Joleen’s doggy Zelda. Such a behaved dog. 

We went back to the hotel and got hungry around dinner so Matt drove us to a fast food place called Cook Out where I had a delicious chili cheese burger, which had coleslaw in it. I ordered a side of hush puppies and Matt got a delish banana pudding shake, which had fresh bananas and Nilla wafers. Wish they had this restaurant in L.A.!

We ate dinner while watching Better Call Saul since we just finished all seasons of Breaking Bad. The next morning, we woke up at 6am and hit the road to Charlotte driving through sporadic rain to drop off the rental car and catch our first class flights back to LAX.

The first class experience was 100% better than sitting in main cabin. So glad we upgraded our seats! We had so much room in our overhead bin, they fed us sausage and egg omelettes with a side of fruit and a cinnamon roll. We were offered lots of beverages throughout the flight. Husband only wants to fly first class from now on so we are doing just that. 🤣✈️

Husband Matt bought us travel neck pillows and they were a game changer. I slept so good and fell asleep watching Better Call Saul on the plane lol. 

Upon arrival in Los Angeles, we looked for our LAX-It shuttle (green signs outside of the baggage claim section) to take us to the area to pick up an Uber. It was a seamless experience and our Uber arrived in 5 minutes. We were literally home by noon.

The trip was a whirlwind but I’m glad I was able to handle all the travel arrangements and be there for my husband as he was grieving grandpa Sonny. It was so great to see everyone and glad Matt was able to see his family. Despite the trip being a sad one, the trip definitely brought us closer together. 

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