Today was laundry and packing day. Tonight is my last evening with my family here in Florida.
Every time I see my granddaughter I get more and more attached. This time will be the most difficult yet. She knows who I am and looks for me when she gets up. I know she will adjust to me not being here rather quickly, but it will not be so easy for me.
So, tonight my chores are complete and we can just play until bedtime. Then a short time in the morning before she heads off to daycare.
My daughter is taking tomorrow off so we will have breakfast and have a few hours before I must go to the airport.
I am happy to be going home and seeing my husband. He is so happy for me to have these visits. The next time I hope he can come, too. It is so bittersweet to leave my family here and it is never easy to say farewell.
We are a close family. We love fiercely. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hubby and I had to take the old (literally) Volvo into the shop today because it is leaking coolant. We live in a rural area, so finding a reliable Volvo mechanic means driving an hour north or south. When we make these treks, we usually plan on spending the day and running all our ‘city’ errands while we are there.
As we were driving and managing our way through roads under construction, we started talking about the improvements made in mapping software and GPS since we married.
Hubby’s first cell phone was a brick he used primarily to respond to pages he received from the office. It stayed in the car all the time. My first cell phone was a flip phone with no screen. Not much chance of navigating with either of those!
In the 1990’s, we purchased software called Street Atlas USA from DeLorme — a Maine-based mapping company. I distinctly remember using the laptop (which was huge and heavy in the 1990’s) with an antennae/receiver placed strategically on the dashboard. Lord help you if you went through any well-treed areas or traveled any tunnels along the way!
Then of course, along came Garmin who had a large display for maps that gave you turn-by-turn GPS instructions. The firmware needed to be updated frequently as new roads were built, or major construction was underway. We had a shared Garmin at work for anyone who needed to travel during the day. There was a policy for checking it out from the office and a very rigid policy to ensure its return at the end of the day.
And we cannot forget Mapquest. I wonder how many of those maps I created and printed?
Now we all have cell phones and using our GPS is a normal course of the day for most of us.
These thoughts reminded me of some days-gone-by memories. My sister always used AAA TripTik when planning a road trip. She would go into the office and tell them where she wanted to go, how many hours a day she wanted to travel and would highlight any scenic destinations she might be interested in seeing. Days later she would receive a bound book of maps highlighted with places to stop and sights to see. I think they still have the service, but it is now more an online tool you do yourself and then print.
Once while traveling from Maine to Virginia with my son, we ran into a major hours-long delay on the highway. My car was overheating and I asked him to pull out the atlas and find us an alternate route. He was probably sixteen at the time and did a great job — with one exception. The route went straight up a some curvy, hillish, mountain roads (did I mention I am not crazy about heights?) and across what I remember as a suspension bridge (did I mention I am not fond of heights)? Of course, if you are open to seeing it, there is always an up side to every situation. We ended up at the gate to Fort Drum, NY — A place my father was stationed and a place I heard many, many stories about growing up. Watertown, 1000 Islands, Camp Drum…such memories.
One further rather funny side note about that trip. In looking at the Google map above, maybe my son did not do so well. We NEVER should have been that far north. But sometimes, we just need to let go and go with the flow. I am puzzled how we ever made THAT detour. I must have been very cranky on that trip!
I do miss the folding and unfolding of a map, trying to find my way. With every gain we make in technology, we lose just a little touch of the romance.
Today was nice. It was a bit of normalcy after a few weeks of difficulty. We are still trying to take in the holidays a little and today was a last-minute bit of holiday spirit.
We had tickets to go to see Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum with our daughter and her family back before Christmas. We ended up canceling when we learned that Mom, sadly, would be going into hospice.
After Christmas, hubby and I decided we would like to try to get tickets to go see the lights and were delighted when our daughter and grandson wanted to go with us. We went last year and had such a good time we knew we would love it again this year.
There is nothing better than just hanging out with those we love. The family came up and spent the afternoon with us. We went to a local pub-style restaurant for dinner and then drove up to Asheville to the Arboretum to see the lights.
It was much warmer this year than last. Last year was so COLD — in the 20’s F. Brrr. This year was in the low 40’s F so it was much warmer. We dressed warmly nonetheless.
The drive into the Arboretum was beautiful. Lights were strung in all the trees in the parking lot and throughout the grounds. It was beautiful and it was a clear night to boot. No rain in sight!
Chandeliers hanging from the trees, bottles of water lit in huge cylinders, lights synchronized to music, and trees decorated like ball gowns. It was fantastic!
Times like this remind me of what is important. The time we spend with those we love just enjoying one another’s company is the absolute best. We are not promised any time, so take advantage of the time you have.
Mom wanted to come to Winter Lights this year. She had planned to come up with her sister and go see the lights with us. Unfortunately, she was not able to do so. I kept thinking over and over tonight how much she would have enjoyed it.
At the exit point of the light display, there is a Cocoa Shack. We had hot cocoa and I enjoyed a gingerbread cookie! It was a little bit of holiday joy in an otherwise tumultuous December.
That’s it for now. Time to publish this and hit the sack.
I just trashed the last two blog posts I wrote. I have a few things on my mind, but putting thoughts into words and making it cohesive just is not happening for me tonight. Perhaps it is not the right time because my thoughts were more serious in nature. So now, I switch gears for the third time. Let’s see how this goes.
Memories of My Children
Today I continued to unpack more Christmas decor. I found more ornaments and decorations that my children made throughout the years.
I cut open the tape, open the cardboard flaps and memories come pouring out. I can see my children — both small and delighted about all the excitement that surrounds Christmas. I can hear their young voices playing over and over in my head. It’s magical how the mind works. It is a gift to be able to hold on to the cherished memories and yet pack away those memories we wish to forget.
I vividly remember how proud my children were when they brought home creations they made with guidance from their very patient teachers. At the time, it seemed like they grew so slowly, but looking back, the time has flown. That’s the thing about life.
Frosty the Snowman
One of my oldest decorations is a ceramic Frosty. He’s designed to have a candle inside him, but I never put candles inside. It sat on the table as sort of a centerpiece.
At dinner, my children always had a 1-A-Day vitamin after they ate. I can still remember them feeding their vitamins to Frosty over and over until either they tired of it or mom intervened and made them take their vitamin.
Every Day is Special
All I have to share tonight is to tell you that every little moment is special. These moments become the memories that you hold close throughout your life. And when your children are grown and living on their own, these are the memories that will comfort and sustain you.
These are also the stories you will tell your grandchildren about their parents. They love to hear all about the times when their parents were young like they are.
“Parents, keep your children closer when they are young, because they will keep you closer when you’re old” Zybejta Beta Metani’ Marashi
I love the consistency of my life. It might be boring to some but to me, it is perfect. Our days usually start out the same way and I love that. When we were working, mornings were always such a rush and a blur. Get up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, pack lunch, then a 45-minute drive to work. That part of my life is in the past now and I appreciate the freedom of retirement.
More Tree Decorations
Today, I added some ornaments to the tree. I always start with some of the most sentimental ornaments. I have ornaments I made when my children were small, ornaments my children made in school and ornaments received from friends and family throughout the years.
<==This ornament was made by my son (with a lot of help from his teacher) in 1st grade. He now has a wife and two children of his own so it’s been a bit since this one came into the collection.
==>This one was made by my daughter – it’s a pierced piece of copper. The ribbon has yellowed and every year I add a little glue to keep it together. It’s special though. She, too, is married and has a child of her own.
<==My great-aunt made this for me about 40 years ago. It’s made of wooden spools. The dress was hand-made. She passed away last year. The last of my great aunts and uncles.
==>I once had a dear friend who I thought would be a life-long friend. But some things do not turn out the way we think that they will. I keep it and hang it to remember the good times. Sometimes people are only in our life for a season.
<==My sister passed away in 2010. When I lived in Florida she came to visit and we took a trip up to St. Augustine. She bought this ornament for my husband because she knew how much he loved lighthouses. They had a good and kind relationship.
==>Our grandson made this ornament for us maybe when he was 8 or so. He’s now almost 17. Another wonderful addition with great memories of the sweetest little boy.
<==This one always makes me smile. I made this with my step-daughter and my two granddaughters. It was to be an easy project but after hot gluing all those pom poms we were ready to be done. It was a day filled with great joy and laughter.
When my children were small, I made a number of ceramic ornaments for the tree. Many have been broken through the years, but I still have about 5. These are two of my favorites. A partridge in a pear tree and an elephant — because elephants never forget.
There are more ornaments and more memories to be placed on the tree. All in all, it was a day filled with wonderful memories and thoughts of people and times and places that can never be replaced. Tonight I am blessed.
“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.” Steve Maraboli