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For the past 10 years, i have visited my mother and grandmother in Florida during the last week of March.  My mother’s birthday is the 28th and this is her present from me...ME!  It works out well for everyone.  Mom and Mimi love having me around to tell fresh, new stories for a week and i get to escape the cold finale of winter.  

I arrived in Orlando late on the night of March 25th.  Instead of dealing with renting a car and driving to my mother’s house so late, i decided to stay in a hotel and go to my mother’s on Thursday morning.  It was a fitful night of inadequate rest but when i got up Thursday morning, the sun was shining and it was a glorious day!  I rented the car and off to Melbourne i went.

Typically, Mom and her husband and Mimi go out to dinner and play cards on Wednesday evenings but, as i found out when i arrived at Mom’s, Mimi wanted to wait till i arrived Thursday.  Wednesday dinner is usually nothing special...a step above fast food.  This particular Thursday, my Aunt and Uncle decided to join us...creating a dilemma, of sorts.  They are vegetarians and that significantly reduces our options.  While i was getting my purse from the car, it was decided that we’d go to Taco Bell for dinner.  Ugh...i’m not sure there is another place on the planet that i like less, but okay...i’ll take one for the team!  

After watching the girl behind the counter drag my food along the BARE stainless (filthy) work surface, I managed to choke down about half of the burrito i ordered.  My mother and her husband were smart and ordered nachos.  While i was there, it occurred to me that, of all the places a person with immune issues should be eating, Taco Bell (and especially THIS Taco Bell) is the last!  My uncle has had cancer at least 8 times over the 20 years i’ve known him and THIS is where he chooses to eat???  Baffling!

Friday was a day of shopping for my mother and I.  I love Beall’s and i go every time i visit Mom.  I scarfed up some excellent bargains, as usual...including a set of “poolside-friendly” (plastic) margarita glasses for my mother.  When we got home from shopping, Mom popped a turkey breast in the oven and i put the new glasses to use immediately.  My mother, her husband and I sat by the pool, sipping margaritas and talking while a turkey dinner cooked in the kitchen...just another gloriously sunny day in Florida.

Saturday was my mother’s birthday but, because Saturday is BINGO night, we postponed the “celebration” until Sunday.  So after a relaxing day of accomplishing nearly nothing, we drove over to get Mimi and company.  When i walked into her house, she had the BIGGEST smile on her face and thanked me profusely!  I asked her what she was thanking me for and she told me, “You KNOW what i’m thanking you for.  I’ve never seen such beautiful chocolates in my life!”  After all the drama of tracking the chocolates and thinking they’d been returned to Hawaii, the postal service decided to deliver them afterall!  Mimi took them out of the fridge and showed me...and she wasn’t kidding!  The chocolates that Cynthia sent are absolutely beautiful!  The milk chocolate gift-shaped candies are gorgeous, and the dark-chocolate filled cups are shiny and tempting!  Mimi was just thrilled...and baffled.  As she opened the package, she kept saying, “I don’t even know anyone in Hawaii!”

After the excitement of the chocolates, Mom, Mimi, Aunt Sue and Vivi (Mimi’s late-husband’s sister) piled into the car and i drove us all to BINGO.  Now, i don’t know how many of the ladies here have experienced BINGO at a retirement community but i highly recommend that everyone do this once.  It’s interesting how serious some people take this game...and I get a huge kick out of watching how older couples interact with one another.  I would estimate that the median age in that hall Saturday night was 80 years old.  At the end of the night, Mom won twice, Vivi won once and i won twice.  Not bad!

Sunday was another lazy day that began with considerable rain...unusual for my visits!  By mid-day, the rain had stopped and the sun was back out in full force.  Mom decided that Red Lobster was where she wanted to have her birthday dinner so Mom, her husband, and I met Mimi, Vivi, and my aunt and uncle...enjoyed a nice dinner and went back to Mimi’s for cards and cake.  Another fun evening...we always get a little punchy when playing cards!

Monday was my last day to spend with Mom for i was driving to Orlando in the afternoon to spend the night in a hotel, again.  Being that my flight out was at 6AM, i didn’t want to disrupt Mom’s house in the middle of the night.  After our good-byes, i drove to Orlando, turned in the car and shuttled to the hotel.  I had made arrangements with a high school friend (okay...high school BOY friend) to meet for dinner and a drink.  We went to Chili’s and had a few laughs.  Our visits have always been easy...chatting up our families, old school friends, etc.  He left me at my hotel about 10:30PM and i knew i needed to DIVE into bed for my wake-up call was coming at 3:30AM.  I goofed off online (naturally) for a little while and at 11:30 i snapped off the laptop and the light and set to getting to sleep.  It wouldn’t come...i was awake the entire time and didn’t even need the wake-up call!  For some reason, i was unable to get to sleep and suffered considerable anxiety.  I’m not a nervous flyer so that wasn’t it.  So, at 3:30, i was up and getting ready for the day.  I can’t decide if 3:30AM is extremely late or extremely early!  Either way, i hope to never see that time of day again...i’m happy that 3:30 only happens once/day in my life (along with 4:30, 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and most 8:30’s).

It was dark when i met the airport shuttle at the hotel, it was dark when i boarded the plane and it was still dark when the plane ascended into the air toward home.  When i landed in Philadelphia, i walked NO LESS than 2 miles from my arrival gate to my departure gate (plus, rode the shuttle to the other side of the terminal).  By the time i boarded the dinky jet that would bring me home, i was dead tired!  An hour later and i was on the ground and in the car with my husband.  Thankfully, HE was chatty as hell because i was not.  I’ve been in a stupor all day and i’m looking so forward to going to bed tonight.  I will sleep like a rock, i’m sure.

Another visit to Florida slips into my memory bank...and all the conversations my mother and i had will bang around in my head for several weeks....giving me plenty to occupy my mind.



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