When we started our “year long” eastward trek, we assured our west coast families that we were only a plane ride away or that we could drive back at any time. We also knew that I would probably not make it a whole year away from our one-year-old grandson.
My daughter was giving me signals that our grandson forgot who we are and it was time to come home for a visit. So I was beginning to consider planning a flight back around the middle of May or early June.
Then I got news that my dad’s health was in decline. Actually I got word as we were headed into the Keys. Everyone agreed that it wasn’t life or death, so I purchased a one-way ticket to California and went south with Tom for three days as planned and would fly out from Miami on our return. Without a better alternative, we decided I would go to California to help family and Tom would drive up the eastern coast of Florida by himself.
What an awful nine days apart.
When you’re used to being together 24/7 for the past thirteen months, the idea of separating was rather daunting. I had to make sure Tom had a list of RV chores that I manage. I had to school him on how to ship out fairy orders and had to prepare some shipments in advance. We had to empty a backpack for me to use because we don’t carry luggage. I didn’t even have an idea of where I’d be staying, knowing that I could probably crash on my mother’s couch or at my son’s house. And worse, we didn’t really know how long I’d need to be away, so Tom was planning campsites along the route with an idea that I’d fly back to Jacksonville in a week. I would miss nearly the entire east coast of Florida.
But of course that wasn’t the worst of it. My brother and step-sister also flew back to Cali from their respective states of Arkansas and Idaho. Dad had just moved into an assisted living home because his wife could no longer care for him, but we found out his medical needs were becoming more than they could handle as well. So we had to find a “skilled nursing facility” (which is the PC term for convalescent or nursing home) ASAP. My brother and I had four days to get Dad moved.
No one wants to abandon a loved one to a “home”, no matter how nice. And most all we found were less than nice. Plus, most were at capacity. Long story short, by the grace of God we found a group home and got him moved in on our deadline of Friday. My brother flew back home, and I told Tom it all would take longer than our planned one week. I would return on Monday to help my step-sis get all the affairs in order but I would take the weekend off. I had to get some grandson time in, so I drove up to spend some time with my daughter and her family. The time was much too brief.
When I returned I found it interesting; the similarities between taking care of my grandson and my father. While with my grandson, I fed him, and changed him, and helped him walk. When I returned to my father, it was the same.
While there, I also tried to get visiting time in with my son and his wife, my mom, my step-daughter and our granddaughter. But they were all too brief visits in between all the tasks I had. Plus I tried to spend as much time with my dad as possible, even spending one long night at the home with him. Another long-story short, I left that Wednesday feeling guilty as hell.
Tom of course had no choice but to try and have fun without me.
He stayed a few days in Sebastian. When he called he said, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think this is the nicest place I’ve been in Florida so far.” He was right: I didn’t want to hear it!
Then he moved up to Jacksonville and stayed at an Elk’s lodge while waiting for me to return. He got lots of chores done, and explored new places as well. One of his favorites was St. Augustine, where he toured, and drank from, the Fountain of Youth.
When I got back I asked to stay at the Elk’s an extra day so we could return to St. Augustine so I could enjoy it too.
It is officially the oldest city in the US, and there was a lot to see. The oldest house and the oldest wooden schoolhouse:
The gorgeous Ponce DeLeon Hotel which is now Flagler College:
The fort, or Castillo de Marcos, that used to be surrounded by a moat:
The amazing Alcazar Hotel and Memorial Presbyterian Church, both built by Flagler:
The entire town was unique in its narrow streets and shopping areas:
Tom was a good sport to have a do-over of the town, but it was cool to have my very own tour-guide. We also drove across the bridge to see a lighthouse, but decided not to take the tour – so I only got a picture from a distance:
While it was hard to leave my family in California, it was SO nice to get home. I’m so happy to be back on adventure mode. And I’m even happier to have the technology to keep connected to the opposite side of the US.
Peace & Love, Joy