The difference between living and existing

04/28/2019 I’ve struggled with the thoughts rumbling in my brain, putting them down for others to read is difficult. I was recently back in the states visiting with my 98 year old Father. I’m so happy that I went, despite the fact he may not even remember I was there. He does not remember that I moved out of the country 6 years ago, he does not remember that my Mother, his wife of almost 70 years has passed away. He does not remember going flying with Bill in his plane, he does not remember time spent with the boys in the Outer Banks. The only thing he seems able to recall is WWII. Something he never spoke of when we were young.

My Dad was always a strong, intelligent hard working, well respected business man. He taught the 3 of us to be responsible, to be honest and kind and to always work hard. He (and Mom) taught us to be good parents, they led by example. To see him like this is so hard, my proud Father reduced to this man who doesn’t remember if he ate breakfast. What a horrid disease dementia is.

My trip there was uneventful, I got bumped to first class on the way to Houston.

Wine and apple pie..

I realized on the way to Houston that my AT&T sim card did not fit in my new phone which meant I had no internet when I arrived at Reagan International airport near DC, my final destination. This posed a problem because this was the first time I ever flew into there AND I had to find my way to my sisters house in the dark with no GPS. I was stressing. I tried to find somewhere to get my sim card cut at Houston but had no luck. They called my flight and had us waiting to board when someone (thank you whoever you are) noticed that the plane had a flat tire. We had to wait until they changed it. Fine with me, it would really suck to take off in a plane with a flat tire.

Thank you tire Gods.

Finally, @ 10:30PM we landed at DCA in Washington DC, well, really Arlington Va. My foot was throbbing in my always super comfy Skechers that I wear to travel. I could not find where I was to go to get the rental car and walked the length of the empty airport looking for someone to ask. Finally, I was told I had to go outside and get a bus to the rental facility. When I got there I was number 9 in line with 2 agents and it was 11 PM. I was a little stressed. When it was my turn I poured my heart out to the agent and he said he would fix me up with a car with a nav system in it for 11 million dollars more. At that point, after paying for insurance (because I no longer have insurance in the US) I didn’t care if it was 15 million dollars. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I found the car in the deserted parking garage, the kind you see on movies that muggers and rapists lurk about in. I didn’t see any keys for the car but noticed a push button start, which didn’t work. I had no clue, I’ve never driven a key less car, remember, my car is 13 years old. I found an attendant who reached to the very front of the dash, over the lip, grabbed the key fob and told me; hold this in your hand, step on the brake and push the button. I’ll be damned, it started. Then I had to program the route to my sisters. Once I was on the road I was OK but still really stressed. I was driving on the poorly lit, riddled with potholes, George Washington Memorial Parkway, then I was on I 495 and I saw signs for Rte 200, which I know is a toll road. I’ve driven on it before and ended up being charged $45.00 each time because I don’t have one of those pass things. I pulled off the road and figured out how to set the GPS for no toll roads and was back on the highway again. I don’t know what time I made it to my sisters but I was frazzled.

FRED, my Ford Flex. I actually liked this car a lot. It reminds me of something Fred Flinstone and Barney would cruise around in, hence the name.

I went over to see Dad the next day. He was sleeping and I tried to wake him but he didn’t stir. I decided to go take care of my phone and buy a new sim card for it. Once I had that I felt a whole lot better. I realized that on my drive from the airport to my sisters, I couldn’t even call anyone if I needed to, it was like 1970 with no cell phones.

I had a foot doctor appointment at noon that day so I did a few things then went to see the podiatrist. The unusual thing was, my foot has been so much better since I went snorkeling a few times, I was barely limping. The Doc was very nice, read my list from the 5 previous orthopedic surgeons and their thoughts on my ailment. He said he wanted to take his own X-Rays, I said OK. He took the X-Rays and came back in to see me. His opinion was I had severe arthritis in my big toe. The one that was operated on Dec 3rd. He gave me 3 choices: a cortisone shot, orthopedics to wear in my shoes (flip flops 24/7) or surgery. I told him I would think about it and call him back. When I checked out they said my medicare number was not correct so I told them I would follow up on that.

I left there and went back to see Dad and decided to wake him up. He was so surprised to see me, he recognized me right away and sat up. His socks were tucked into the nightstand drawer, far be it for my Dad to ever throw anything on the floor. His shirt was hung up and his dress pants were over the chair. He got up and dressed and we went out to the main room where people congregate. He is on the top (3rd) floor in a memory care center. None of the residents can operate the elevator, for their own safety. They have a key pad by the elevators for the workers to use. There is a lady named Shirley who thinks it’s a phone and uses it to call her Mother every day. She also tries to get on the elevator to go downstairs and escape to freedom, so you need to tell her it is going up.

That afternoon they had a nice man come in to play some music. I recognized a few of the tunes, obviously Dad did not and quite loudly said, many times, “well, he’s trying but he’s not very good.” I could have crawled under a chair.

Dad and I sat for 3 hours in this room and as happy as I was to be with him, it was heart wrenching to see my strong intelligent Father sitting there wondering what was going on around him. I saw a younger man who seemed very with it, I assumed he was a visitor but he was a resident. There were a few couples where the one partner was mentally fine but their spouse was not. One couple in particular, I really admired the man who was there because of his wife. The sacrifices he made to be with her. I wondered if he would leave and move out if and when she passed. My sister said there are many people who she never sees anyone visiting and she would know as she is there almost daily. She and her husband Mark are my Father’s angels, and sometimes he is a very difficult man to deal with. They know it’s not him, it’s the disease, it was something I had to learn again. Despite the fact of knowing that, it still hurts.

When I got back to my sister’s I got online to the Medicare website, turns out I never got the “new” medicare card. I didn’t know because I’ve never used it. I called Medicare and of course, they could not give the number to me over the phone. I decided to go to the Medicare office that was close by and get the number. I waited almost 2 hours in the most confusingly numbered system I’ve ever experienced. When I finally got up to the window the girl said she could NOT give me a new Medicare card. I assured her that I knew that but could she give me the correct number pretty please? Yes, she could and did. I was in there so long the weather went from cool and sunny to cold and rainy. I think I may have gone shopping to ease my pain. The following morning I went back to the Dr and got a cortisone shot in my big toe. It didn’t hurt but by the next day I had developed a new pain in my foot and I had a hard time walking. Great. From bad to pretty darn good to a new kind of bad.

This was my first trip to TJ Maxx where I believe I set a world record for filling a cart the fastest. Don’t even ask me what I bought, I know there were dog toys and a pair of shoes. ONLY 1 PAIR OF SHOES THOUGH.

I went back there a few times with my sister. We share the same shopping skills, inherited, passed down from our Mother. Our wallets thank her.

My sweet adorable nephew’s wife came over to see me and she and Missy and I went to Target in Gaithersburg. O M G. I miss that store. I wanted one of everything. Missy, Sofie and I did a substantial amount of shopping, I was feeling good, I love to buy new stuff. We got back to Missy’s and Eric, Sofie’s hubs and my favorite (only but still favorite) nephew came over to see me. He made some kick ass guacamole and we had another amazing meal.

I’m sure I’m getting my days mixed up but I’m allowed to, I’m not on a schedule. My BFF Olivia lives in Bel Air, MD and we have not seen each other for too damn long. She took a sick day and met me at TJ MAXX in Columbia, MD. We did some shopping and then went to a fabulous place for lunch. We were debating going in when a cop walked by us and said, “have you eaten here?” We said no, he said, “try it, it’s fabulous”, so in we went. My BFF Olivia is a foodie, she lives to eat. I eat to live but we have found common ground and it works for us.

Everything was fresh, made to order right in front of you. It was delicious.

I made sure my nephew Eric and his wife knew about this place since they just bought a new home in Columbia.

I called Dad late one morning to see if he wanted to go to McDonald’s. He has always loved a plain cheeseburger with fries. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. So I repeated myself. He started shouting that he didn’t know what I was saying and why was I bothering him with this. He didn’t know what I was talking about and didn’t want to go. I said, “Dad, why are you yelling at me?” He said you are talking crazy talk and he hung up on me. My brother in law heard the conversation and came out and said, give him an hour, he won’t remember a thing. I waited until after lunch and went over. Mark gave me a can of Coke for him and a straw. He did not remember talking to me and he guzzled that Coke down so fast. I got him to go out and walk around a little bit. Not for long though, he wanted to go nap. He came to Missy’s one night for spaghetti and meatballs. He ate a good meal but was ready to go home before we even ate.

 

Dad and I.

Missy, Dad and I. Sorry these are smaller, can’t make them any larger.

Dad taste testing the spaghetti to see if it’s done.

Missy had some cards made for him with photos of family and flowers and other things. Two cards of each photo and he tries to match the cards. He really enjoys playing it but can not, for the life of him, remember where the matching cards are.

Mark, Eric, Missy and I went out for dinner one evening to Cava. It looks very nondescript from the outside, it is in a strip mall, but once inside, OMG.

More bar seating but we were at the actual bar, of course we were.

My first ever Moscow Mule made with Vodka, Ginger Beer, crystallized ginger and lime juice. These things are dangerous.

Eric and his dad Mark. So much fun to hang out with them. I love that Eric wanted to spend time with me.

Me, Eric and Mark at Cava.

They serve Naan bread and some hot spicy dip and oil and tzatziki dip, we got chicken skewers, fries, grilled brussel sprouts and lamb sliders. I did not eat Mary’s Little Lamb. The rest was delicious.

Missy, Mark and I outside of Cava.

The next day my brother and his daughter Devon came down for Easter. They came a little early so they could see me too. We all went over to see Dad one afternoon. Missy and Devon found a puzzle so we helped Dad put it together in the dining room. He was very upset because we were in the dining room and people didn’t usually hang out in there.

Dad had a difficult time with the puzzle but Devon helped him.

Yep, I look like my Dad.

Dad and his kids.

PJ and Devon. She is such a happy girl, always smiling, unless PJ is making her do something she really doesn’t want to do, like turn off the computer. I’m so glad they came down and I got to see both of them.

We were sitting out on Missy’s deck when I got an alert from United saying they were expecting severe thunderstorms in the afternoon on the day I was leaving. I called Bill and he said to call them and reschedule. They put me on a 10:10 AM flight, which meant I had to leave at 7 to return the car and find my way. I went over to the memory care center at 4:20 that afternoon to say good bye to Dad. He was in bed and would not get up. I wanted him to go eat dinner but he said he wasn’t hungry. I gave up, didn’t want to upset him so I hugged him, kissed him good-bye and left with tears in my eyes. It sucks to leave, you don’t know if that’s going to be the last time you see him or not. He still doesn’t understand that I am not close and can’t pop over for lunch on a whim.

Missy took this of me on her deck.

Me, Missy and PJ

That night we all (minus Dad, he doesn’t do trips more than 10 minutes very well) went to Eric and Sofie’s new house for dinner. They just moved in a few weeks ago and were excited for us all to see it. It’s a great house, lots of room and a beautiful back yard. They made parmesan chicken and stuffed shells. Missy made a salad and I took wine. It was delicious.

Sofie has hit the ultimate coolness factor with me. She has a T-Rex sippy cup. I was in love.

Devon took this of Missy and I. The first one she took was hysterical, it was of her thumb. This is a picture off of a phone.

Eric, Sofie, PJ and Mark, waiting to dive into a fabulous meal.

Getting ready to dig in.

PJ, Devon, Sofie, Me, Eric and Mark.

We helped them clean up and then headed for home. I still had to pack. UGH. We sat around and talked for a short time after we got home but I had to get up early and get on the road so I said good night.

I was out the door at 7 AM, stopped to fill up the tank and then got lost in VA trying to return the rental car. I was pulled off the road cursing at the Nav system because it just stopped and I was clearly nowhere near the rental return. Just then a cop pulled up and asked me how I was. I was stressed and lost. He was so nice, he told me exactly where I needed to go, repeated it several times and said, don’t take this turn…I finally found it, dropped off the car and made my way to the airport. Once I was checked in I got something awful to eat (donuts) and went to my gate. My foot was hurting so much I could hardly walk. Once I got on the plane to Houston I was able to sit back and relax. I arrived in Houston much earlier than scheduled due to my flight change times. I was spending the night at the Marriott at the airport. You have to get your luggage then go down a level and catch the subterranean subway to the hotel. I made it to the hotel a few hours before check in, they said no problem. I got checked into my room, took my shoes off and opened my suitcase only to realize they had ruined my suitcase, the zipper pulls and the TSA lock were missing. Now that it was opened there was no way to close it. I called United and she told me to take it back to Terminal C and they would replace it for me. My foot hurt so bad I asked if there was anyway they could deliver it. She said no, but she had just been in Roatan on vacation and loved it. YAY. I emptied everything out of it and trudged back over to Terminal C. I spoke to a man at the United luggage desk. I expected it to be a lot more difficult than it was. He got some info then walked me over to these glass door closets filled with NEW suitcases. He asked if I wanted a hard or soft side, I said hard please. He gave me a brand new 28″ suitcase and sent me on my way. As I got on the subway to go back to the Marriott a girl said, “you must have come from somewhere warm.” I said, not really, I’m going home, I live on Roatan. She said, OMG, I just got back from there and am going again in August. Then she proceeded to pick my brain for the short 4 minute ride to the hotel. I got back to the room, re packed, took a bath, called room service and ordered a chicken ceasar and opened my box of wine.

Brand spanking new and I adore new suitcases for some odd reason.

Cracked open the box before I even got home!

I couldn’t figure out how to work the remote in the hotel room, (it had 300 buttons on it and was more than likely handled by very germ laden people) so I went to sleep. I was up by 7 and at the airport by 7:30 and checked in. 10 minutes later I was at my gate for the almost uneventful trip to Roatan. All was fine until we got ready to land and the pilot could not see the runway. He was way too high to even bring it in if he could see it. We flew over the ocean for awhile and he came in for another landing. This time I could see the runway, phew. I just wanted to be home. I was waiting for Bill when he walked up behind me. He had Max with him, once Max saw me he went crazy. He missed his momma. We came home and when I unpacked I realized the TSA agents stole my damn Skechers. I couldn’t wear them because my foot hurt so much, so I hid each in a separate travel cube. My cubes were open, clothes strewn all over and my shoes gone. Another call to United, they are taking care of it.

The dogs were so happy to see me and to get their new toys. When I got home my foot was way worse than it was when I left and I didn’t know what to do. I called the podiatrist in Maryland and he said it didn’t sound like a cortisone flare (I had googled that and it was not the issue), he suggested I see an ortho doc. Thing is, I’ve seen 5 and none of them helped me at all. Wonderfreakingful. I was talking to my friend about her results from seeing Mary Mason, a chiropractor from Austin TX who has a practice here. She suggested I go see her about my foot. So I did. My friend Steph and I went together, she is having neck/back issues. Dr Mary has a much different approach to chiropractic work than I am used to, I’ve seen chiropractors for 50 years. She worked on some bones behind my ears, the backs of my legs and my hips. She had me go out for a walk while she worked on Steph. Then she gave me another adjustment before I left. I was really sore (and still am) but I can walk without a limp. I’m going back to see her again tomorrow, hoping that one more treatment is all I will need.

Boys having a swim.

Lola getting comfy.

I wanted Dra Diana, the vet from Tegus who gave us the miracle cream for Max’s wounds, to check Max’s ear, he seems to be shaking his head a lot and we wanted to get both he and Highway tested for heartworm and erlichia. Max and Highway were in the back of the truck, Max sat there perfectly quiet and Highway howled the whole damn trip (25 min) to the vet. I was losing it to the point that Bill threatened to turn around or let me out. I had him drop me at the vet and he went to the plumbing store. After they were tested and Dra Diana tested the goop in Max’s ear, we were ready to go. Bill suggested I sit in the back with Max and allow Highway up front. UGH. Fine, whatever. Can you believe this idiot dog didn’t howl once on the way home? He must have called SHOTGUN in dog speak and I didn’t catch it. He was howling BECAUSE I WAS IN THE FRONT SEAT. He really pushes my buttons..

Highway, the howler. This dog is lucky he didn’t get thrown out of the car when we went to the vets.

Max was perfect, as usual.

I have company coming on Thursday and I can’t wait!! I haven’t seen Tammy since 2013, looking forward to catching up with her and showing her around the island. I have a zillion things to do so I should probably post this thing and get moving.

It’s hot and humid, my weather app says: OMG, It’s so hot and humid. Who the frak even needs clothes today. Forget clothes. It’s 9:45 AM and already 86 but feels like 97. Luckily, we’re up on the hill top so we have a nice strong breeze blowing through the house.

Happy Monday everyone!

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My comedy of errors life.

09/27/2017 The photo and quote were on the wall at Emily’s home, I felt it was appropriate to use it on this blog.

The day before I was to leave the island I was down at the pool. I went to lock the gate open with the hook and eye that Bill installed on it to hold it open so the dogs could go in and out. When I went to place the hook in the eye, there was something in it. I pulled it out and just about died. It was Lola’s whole pinky toenail, totally ripped off her toe. She compulsively jumps over the gate in her effort to always be first and must have caught it and just torn it right out. I can’t fathom how much that must have hurt her. We started doctoring her immediately. Great, I’m leaving tomorrow and need to worry about this. Bill was Lola’s nurse for the week and I’m happy to say it’s all healed up. I started her on cephalexin immediately so there wouldn’t be any infection and she wore a sock and the cone of shame for 9 days.

UGH freaking UGH!

Poor girl, she was a trooper though.

My trip to the US began on an excellent note, I was upgraded to First class on the Houston to Baltimore route.

Excellent, free wine but no food. I got to Baltimore, got my bags, got my rental car and drove to the hotel I was staying at for the night. When I went to check in she said my reservation was for Sunday night, not Saturday. It actually was 1:30AM Sunday morning. When I made the reservation on Expedia before I confirmed online, I called the hotel and asked the person who answered the phone about it. He said, no, it would be for Sunday night, not Saturday because Saturday ended at midnight. So I bought the reservation. The girl at the desk said, “well, actually, it still is Saturday.” I see her point, but it wasn’t. I told her I spoke to a male at the desk and he said to make the reservation for Sunday. She said the hotel was full and there were no single bed rooms available. A room with 2 beds was $50.00 more. Seeing as how it would be 2 AM before I even got to the room and planned on leaving by 10 AM I could see no reason to pay for a bed I wouldn’t touch. I was really nice to the girl, explained where I came from and that I would be in the room a short time. She finally gave in and put me in the 2 bed room. I was so excited I gave her a nice tip.

I got up in the morning, showered and set off for my sisters house. Missy called Mom and Dad and they wanted me to come for brunch so I hustled over to their place. They were waiting in the area by the dining room. They both look really good and were extremely happy to see me. We sat down to eat near the salad/fruit bar. Dad got up with me to help me get some food, like I need help. He kept trying to get me to have some milk or tomato juice. Never in my life have I liked either of them, nor did I want any, especially since what he was trying to get me to drink was ranch dressing and french dressing. They were in the big plastic bottles with the red pour spouts. I told him I thought they were salad dressing but he said they were milk. We had a good breakfast but while we were sitting there Mom was freaking out over some lady who was taking all of this food back to her room in to go boxes. I tried to tell her not to worry about it, she wasn’t paying for it. She was relentless and very loud about it. I think since she is hard of hearing she doesn’t realize how loud she speaks. It was an experience for sure.

We went back up to their apartment and visited for awhile. Missy was having us for dinner that evening so I got Mom and Dad together, ran a few errands for them on the way and went to Missy’s home, less than 10 minutes away. We had a great meal there. Mark and Missy were astounded at how alert Mom and Dad were and that they seem to have changed after Ashley’s wedding the previous weekend. It’s the first they have been out to a real social gathering in quite some time (their choices not to socialize). Mark and Missy and I stayed up for awhile after Miss and I took Mom and Dad home, chatting about the situation with them and coming to the realization, it is what it is.

The next morning I headed to TJ Maxx, oh how I’ve missed that store. I shopped for a few hours but felt guilty the whole time I was there so I left (after buying a few things) and went to visit Mom and Dad.

It’s been a long love affair.

I asked Mom if she wanted to go shopping, she did, of course. I said she had to take her walker, she said, “your Father will be fit to be tied.” (We have some Pennsylvania Dutch in us). My Mother has a bad knee and she’s NOT a knee surgery candidate, she should be using a walker, but my Dad won’t allow it. He said she looks stupid and it embarrasses him to be seen with her. OMG OMG OMG. I said that I didn’t care and he could deal with me. We got off the elevator and she didn’t know which way to go to get outside, there are no signs at all. I figured it out and once we got there, VR (my Dad) was wandering around. He walked outside with her to wait while I brought the car around. When she got in my car she said he told her she looked stupid with a walker, she looks like an old lady. For shits sake, she IS an old lady, she’s 92.

Seeing the two of them have really made me think about getting old(er)

I wanted to go to Target so we set the GPS and were off. We shopped for a little bit, she bought him 5# of M&M’s. Then we went back to the grocery near where they live. She was looking all over for cannoli but ended up buying eclairs and coke for VR. Eclairs, Cannoli, not the same.

They wanted me to go to the dining hall with them for dinner. I was introduced to everyone there as their OLDER daughter who lives on an island. I was thankful that this year Roatan had not moved, last year it was in the Pacific Ocean. Or so my mother thought, geography was never a strong subject for her. While waiting to be seated 4 ladies came in, all with walkers, all in a line. Dad said, “look at those lazy women, they could walk if they wanted to, they’re just lazy.” I was appalled. I told him he didn’t know if they could walk without them or not and it was not nice to judge them for using a walker.

After we were seated I went to get some fruit and Dad once again offered me milk (ranch dressing). During the meal he asked me when I started wearing glasses, I said 5th grade, don’t you remember? I wouldn’t leave the bathroom at 4 Mile elementary and they had to call Mom to come over. He was off on another subject by then. We were joined by a man at dinner and neither Mom nor Dad spoke to him so I started a conversation with the man. He had some interesting stories and every now and then he would say something that piqued their interests, like eating at Horn and Hardart in NYC. Then they had something to say. That evening Dad wanted ice cream. It was not served fast enough and he filed a complaint. OMG OMG OMG. Let me also say my Father drinks 3-4 cans of coke a day. He NEVER drank soft drink and he eats M&M’s by the pound. Mom says she buys 7# bags for him. The man does not have a single speck of fat on his body and you could probably bounce a bowling ball off of his abdomen. No, I did not try.

I left after dinner and went back to my sisters. They told me some stories and I shared some thoughts with them. This was Monday night, I was still feeling good.

Tuesday I was driving to Silver Springs proper to meet Barry, one of Trace’s best friends from Williamsport. On the way there I stopped by Mom and Dad’s. Mom was in bed. I asked Dad what was wrong and he said, she’s sick. I said does she have an upset stomach, he grimly replied, she’s sick. I’m all like, WTH? Does she have a headache, is she having trouble breathing? He said, SHE’S SICK. I said, fine, I’ll stop on my way back through. Oscar the grouch personified.

Mom and Dad at their apartment

Mom and Dad at my niece Ashley’s wedding the weekend before.

Barry (Trace’s friend) and I have been friends on FB for a few years and he wants to come visit us and get certified. We met at a Thai place that was super easy for me to find. How did I live in the US as a young mother without GPS? What wasn’t easy was figuring out how to do the bar code scan parking. I got the app installed, set up a pay from account and then got frustrated and went to a bicycle shop for change. She gave me a $2.00 roll of nickels, it worked. Barry and I had a great lunch, reminisced about many things from Pa. and discussed the best time for him to visit. After we said good-bye I was on my way back to visit with my parents.

I walked in and there Mom was at the counter, cutting up an orange. I said, “You’re up, are you feeling ok?” She replied, “I’m fine, your Father told me to go back to bed this morning, so I did.” I asked if she would jump off the balcony if he told her to and got a dirty don’t be stupid look. Why did he so gloomily say, She’s Sick? I lost brain cells while there. Soon after I got there Missy arrived too. I had messaged her and relayed the scenario. She called and Dad told her Mom was sick and in bed. SHE WAS NOT SICK. Maybe he has Munchausen’s syndrome? Miss left and I got to go to dinner with my folks again. While I was eating lunch with Barry my throat felt scratchy, I knew I was coming down with something. After eating with Mom and Dad I went back to Missy’s, took some cold drugs and went to bed.

I felt worse in the morning so I went to Macy’s. Isn’t that the cure for sickness? I needed something magic to suck my gut in for my class reunion dress. I found something that reduced my fat by 1/4″ so I bought it, 2 bras and 5 pair of undies (which are all too big, they look like something my grandmother wore). The lady at Macy’s said if I used my Macy’s card I would save $80.00. I haven’t used that card for 4 years. They reopened it for me and I did save a little over $80.00, that’s a lot.

I left Macy’s, picked up my dress at the cleaners and went to my sister’s. I thought I should stay away from Mom and Dad for a day, maybe a mental health break. Miss and Mark cooked a good dinner, I organized my stuff (Amazon Prime is my middle name) and went to bed.

Thursday I went over to Mom and Dad’s a little later in the morning. Mom wanted to go to CVS to buy some miracle anti aging creme (she’s 92, remember). She’s addicted to that stuff and let me tell you, it does NOT work. I took her to the grocery again and spent some time with them in the evening. I told them I was leaving in the morning to meet my friend Stan at BWI but I would stop and say goodbye before I left. Missy and Mark took me out for dinner that night to a great restaurant that I think we went to a long time ago.

Missy and Mark

After that I made sure I had everything organized, stuff I needed for Williamsport and my other suitcase with things for Roatan.

I said good-bye to Miss the night before and Mark carried my bags out in the morning. I drove to BWI, got there on time, called the FBO and told them where I was so they could pick me up to meet Stan in his plane.

We made it to Williamsport around 1 and drove around for awhile. Stan stopped by his parents graves then we drove past my old house on Edercrest Rd.

I grew up in this house, we moved here when I was in 4th grade. It was 3 houses down from the Williamsport Country Club. My brother and I became WCC brats, we were there from the time they opened until dinner time, when we had to go home.

We then stopped at the Bullfrog Brewery for some lunch. Stan parked 3′ from the curb so I told him to move the car closer. He did but forgot to put $$ in the meter so we came out to a ticket. Simple things.

We drove around a bit more and then checked into the old City Hall. They renovated the building into rooms and some businesses. It’s a pretty nice place, especially for Williamsport.

The City Hall Grand. That’s me on the L.

My room at the City Hall Grand.

I have no idea when Stan took this photo but it’s awesome. He is an excellent photographer. The red roof on the lower right is where my goldsmith used to be.

We arrived at our reunion spot around 5 PM. It was at the old Shore Acres, my old stomping grounds, now nicely renovated into a busy restaurant called Pier 87. There is a lot of inside seating, seating on the porch and outside seating by the Loyalsock Creek. It’s owned by young Frankie Morrone and his business partner. Frankie and his parents, Barb and Frank are all long time friends. I tended bar for the Morrone’s at the Pub and The Old Corner many moons ago. Some of my favorite people.

A few of my girlfriends come out to see me there, wish I could have visited with them longer but I had my high school friends to visit with too.  A lot of our classmates were there setting up for our party that began at 6.

Karen, JoAnn and Sue setting up.

Not classmates but long time friends, Deb and Mary.

My BFF, Stan.

Mary and my other BFF from high school, Steve Cimini.

I was tapped on the shoulder and turned around to see someone I haven’t seen since 1990, Deb Caulkins. I almost cried, love her so much. Mary, me and Deb.

I was pretty under the weather and the night got quite chilly down by the water so we left around 10 and went back to the hotel. I took some meds and sacked out. The next morning I met Stan and we walked to a place called the Sawhorse for breakfast. It was across from Lycoming College. We had a good breakfast and were trying to decide what to do for the day. On our way back to town we noticed a farmer’s market so we walked through there. Stan bought some pickled jams and jellies to take home.

Mums at the farmers market

Helmrich’s, very fishy smelling in there.

Then he went to Helmrich’s seafood for smoked shad. UGH, my kids loved that stuff.

Our original plan was to go to Montreal to see my college friend for lunch but Stan left his passport in New Hampshire. We called Jan and Jerry to see if they wanted to ride to State College with us for lunch. Jan is Stan’s cousin and Jan and Jerry happen to be some of my best friends from Williamsport, our kids grew up together. I’ve known them since the early 70’s. I still was feeling pretty crappy and had no voice and a super sore throat, but it was a sunny day and it was nice to be with Jan and Jer.

Rockville Federal Penitentiary. You’re not even allowed to stop in front of the place.

Amish horse and buggy

Piece of art outside of a store called Doug Albert Art Gallery, a friend of Stan’s. Cool stuff in there. I named this Fish Face.

Jan and Jerry Fink

We had lunch at the Tavern, an old restaurant in State College that has been there for years. After we ate Stan wanted to walk up on campus so he and Jer did that and Jan and I sat and shared photos and talked.

Our class reunion gig began at 6 PM so we started our way back to Williamsport. Jan and Jer came into the City Hall and checked out each of our rooms, then we said good-bye to them and got ready for our big party.

We decided to walk over to the hotel where the party was, it was only 3 blocks. It was the first I’ve worn shoes other than sandals in 4+ years, I wasn’t sure I could do it but it was just like riding a bike.

Stan took my photo before we left for the evening.

And we did a selfie. Stan has been my friend since 1966, we have always stayed in touch with each other over the years. We were hell raisers in high school. He’s a good guy and a fabulous friend.

These two people I love so much. Steve Cimini and I have been friends since 10th grade and Cathilee and I for longer than that. I’ve seen Cims several times over the years but this was the first I’ve seen Cathilee.

Me and Cathilee.

The reunion was a lot of fun, Ginny and the crew worked non-stop for a year dreaming and planning. They did a great job. It was so nice to see people I’ve not seen since 1967, yet still have a connection to. It was a wonderful evening, I’m so glad I made the trip.

Two of my partners in crime, Richard Tebbs and Stan.

Sue and Garry Masley. These two have been married forever and look just as great as they did in high school. Love them both.

Lynda and I have been friends for a long time and still talk weekly. Ralphie and I have been friends and email buddies for years and years.

Ginny, the mastermind of the gala, she worked so hard for this to be a perfect night. Well done my friend. The handsome guy is my friend Cathilee’s hubby, Tim.

Aaah, two more of my guys, Ralphie and Bill Maule.

I was feeling pretty crappy so we walked back to the hotel around 11. I took a hot bath, soaked my face with hot washcloths, took more meds and put on leggings, a long sleeved shirt, socks and went to bed. The next morning we drove out through Bloomingrove Rd and Poco Farm Rd, stopped by Cicily’s but she wasn’t home. I wanted to see my brother P.J. before I left town so we met him and Devon at Perkins at 10. I saw them come in and got up to greet them and on the way back to the table Jen and Missy Jackson spotted me. My niece and her daughter, so good to see the two of them, absolutely adore them. We had a nice breakfast with PJ and Devon, they were talking about coming down and Devon said she wants to. We would love to have them visit with us, Devon is an excellent swimmer, I think she would enjoy the ocean.

PJ, Devon and I at Perkins. I really really hope they come down!

After that we drove back down to Montoursville to the airport for my ride back to Baltimore.

My (well Stan’s) plane awaits me.

I got to BWI and the driver for the FBO (flight bureau operations) took me over to United. I checked in and went to my gate to wait. We should have been boarding by 4 and we weren’t. Then they announced a gate change and said the plane was late. Great, I had a short connection in Newark for my flight to Los Angeles. I talked to the gate agent and she said we had plenty of time to make the connection. She lied. She also forgot to tell us we had to take a stupid slow bus to our gate which was forever and a day away. When I got out of the bus was the time boarding closed. I do not run, I can’t run. I walked as fast as I possibly could, sure I was going to stroke out at any minute. They were waiting for me to close the gate, I was the last person on the plane. PHEW, didn’t miss my flight to LAX.

BUT…about 2 hours into the flight the flight attendant came on the speaker to say we had to make an emergency landing, somewhere. We were leaking hydraulic fluid in the left wing. Hmm. I was sitting over the L wing. Great. Then she came back and said we would be landing in Chicago and would need to stow everything, take off our glasses, pens out of pockets and they demonstrated crash position landing. The two young girls next to me were freaking out, the one was near tears, other people were crying. It was pandemonium. I got my phone out despite them telling us to turn them off and stow them. I signed up for United’s wi-fi, paid $9.95 for 30 min and messaged Bill, Mr. Pilot. I told him the hydraulics were leaking and he said they are redundant. What does that mean? He said there are backup hydraulics on everything. I asked why the flight attendant made it doom and gloom and we’re all going to die? He said procedural. I got the two girls calmed down somewhat. As we neared Chicago I told them we would be met by fire trucks and ambulances and that we would more than likely come in hard and fast. As we were on final the attendants were strapped in yelling BRACE BRACE BRACE. It was getting ridiculous. I was in the window seat and could see all the  vehicles racing down the runway while still in the brace position. We landed fine, no issues at all. I told the girls that we were ok, no worries, the one started crying again. They shut the plane down and we were towed to the gate.

I knew I was going to miss my 11:39PM flight from LAX to SAL (El Salvador). As soon as I stepped off the plane I called the Premier desk at United. After 41 minutes the girl booked me on a later flight at 1:30 AM out of LAX to El Salvador. Turns out I missed that flight too. We arrived in LAX about 10 minutes after my flight to SAL left. By this time my butt was dragging, I barely had a voice and I felt like absolute crap. Again I called the Premier desk at United and she said they had me booked on the 11:39PM flight to SAL on Monday evening. I gave her my baggage claim checks and she verified that my luggage was at Avianca (my flight to SAL and then to Roatan was on Avianca) being held for me. She told me to walk to the end of the hall and turn R for the customer service desk. I approached the desk and the guy said, “are you Debbie?” They had 2 nights room vouchers and $60.00 worth of food vouchers waiting for me. I waited a whole hour to get to the hotel. Luckily I was the last one on the bus which meant I was the first one off so I didn’t have to wait too long to get checked in. My room was freezing, I had no toothbrush and only the clothes on my back. I wore them to bed.

The next morning I got a message from Cathilee who lives 20 minutes from the airport saying she was coming to get me. Cathilee picked me up and we went to the school her 2 youngest grands go to. She called Poppy down to meet me and this is how she did her hair.

Poppy said her hair was down when she got to school. Then she put it in pigtails, then she braided the pigtails, then she used the pencils to make this look.

Poppy is so creative, she will make a name for herself someday. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

After that we went to Cathilee’s daughter Emily’s amazing home. Lucky day for me, I got to meet all 4 of the gorgeous Power kids. I felt like I knew them already.

Hudson, it was his 8th birthday. He is ADORABLE!

Piper, Hudson, me, Poppy and Polly plus the 2 dogs.

After that Tim and Cathilee took me to Terranea for lunch. It was AHMAZING! It’s where Mike Nelson filmed Sea Hunt. We started lunch off with the best soft pretzel I have ever had in my whole existence! OMG.

Cheap scuba gear

The grounds were amazing.

The entrance

I was freaking over the variety of succulents.

After we left there we went back to Cathilee and Tim’s home and relaxed with them and sweet Ginger, what a funny dog. She craves attention. I got a toothbrush from Cathilee and brushed my teeth before we went to meet the Power family at a sushi place for Hudson’s birthday. Emily and I chatted about them all coming to visit, there will be 11 but if Latifa and her crew come too it will be 16. I would love it. I feel like I know all of them from FB and Instagram so it was another reunion of sorts.

After dinner we went to Cathilee’s and they called an UBER to take me to LAX. The girl came on time and dropped me at Avianca. The lines were huge, 150+ people waiting to check in. I noticed a Star Gold Alliance sign, called the Premier desk again and they said to go there. I was the 3rd person in line. She checked me in gave me my boarding passes, called baggage to retag my bags and I was off to my gate. I have never been so happy to board a plane in my life.

I can’t begin to thank Tim and Cathilee and Emily and kids for their hospitality, I honestly felt like part of the family. I love all of them!

My flight to San Salvador was fine, my flight to Roatan was on time and all I wanted to do was go home and see my dogs.

I slept some the day I got home and went to bed early that night. The next day I went to the clinic and they advised me to get a z-pack and take it. I did and am feeling so much better. It’s really a drag when you go to your class reunion and don’t have the voice or the stamina to uphold your riotous reputation. It was still fun and I’m happy I was able to see my parents, sister and brother and niece and all of the people who put up with my shenanigans during our school years.

Leaving the rock

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07/16/2015  When I posted the previous blog, I said that when I’m working at the airport, I welcome people to the island with a smile and say, “Welcome to Roatan.” Later that day I got a friend request from someone that I didn’t know. I vaguely remember getting a WordPress message that someone new was following my blog so I looked at the name and at the friend request and realized it was the same person, so I accepted her friend request. I then looked at Julies FB page and came across this poem written by her husband Robby Bennett and posted on June 25th. {posted with his permission}

It’s called, appropriately:

“Welcome to Roatan”

Ten years they spent dreaming and designing their plans
Out the door they walked, their entire existence in their hands
Another world they both longed to learn and explore
A new life they sought on some distant Caribbean shore.

The sun was just starting to show its light
Soon they’d be catching their dream flight
Anxious and nervous they stepped out of the cab
Their bags taken under arm as he pays their tab.

Checked in and passed security, they waited to board
Butterflies in their stomachs as the engine roared
The plane lifts up and into the sky they did roam
Another world they would both soon call home.

Nothing more than clouds and ocean below
The plane flew them where they wanted to go
Tears in their eyes as they glanced over the wing
As off in the distance their island could be seen.

They dropped through the clouds as the plane flew over the beach
Touching down as the engine slowed and the tires began to screech
The captain came over the speakers “Welcome to Roatan”
Ten years in the making they finally realized their plan.

Smiling faces greeted them as they exited the plane
Immediately they knew their plan was not in vain
No more worries or keeping up with the Joneses
A much simpler life with daily hammock dozes.

Listening to the melody of the waves and trade winds
Barbecuing the days’ catch or making new friends
Laughing and loving, living life like it was meant to be
Or sitting quietly, just the two of them down by the sea.

Lazy days, doing nothing or diving on the reef
An unreal world that seems totally make belief
But it’s their new life, exactly as they planned
Far away from old troubles, “Welcome to Roatan”.

Isn’t that an awesome poem? He should be marketing moving to Roatan, he expresses the feeling so perfectly.

I have since been in contact with Julie and she can’t believe I’m a greeter a the airport and that I say that to people. I look forward to meeting them!

I am never thrilled leaving the rock, really not. This time I was excited for the opportunity to see my parents and sister and to do some shopping but was not mentally prepared for what life in the US is all about.

The shoreline of Roatan is so gorgeous.

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The small island on the left with a dock is owned by my friend Milesse. It is a divers paradise, check out Barefoot Cay.

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French Harbor, where I lived when I was down here alone for 4 months.

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Little French Key (r) and Big French Key are the two islands in the bottom center.

I had a nice trip to the states, it was interesting to say the least;  I was flying on the day United’s computers crashed. again. My flight from here was 2 hours late making the connection in Houston next to impossible. We were landing at 6:45, my flight departed at 7:05. Fortunately we have Global and that allows me preferential treatment as opposed to waiting in the formidable lines for immigration. I cleared it in mere minutes and ran to the baggage carousel. I found out that my connecting flight to Baltimore was also delayed until 8:20. Hmmm, it’s possible I’ll make it. We are Premier Gold with United which means your bags get offloaded first (except in Roatan where they do not understand the word written on the tag that says PRIORITY) However in Houston I waited for 40 minutes; my bags did come out first after the four flights that came in before we did. The line through customs was at least 250 people long, no lie. Off to the right I saw a sign that said GLOBAL EXIT ONLY so I ran like hell with my cart with 2 suitcases on it to that line and there were 4 people in front of me. I re checked my bags and ran up the escalator to security. There was no Premier line, dammit!! I got in the regular line and when it was my turn to get in the full body scanner,  just as I stepped in the girl said, “Miss, can you please step out, WE HAVE TO RECALIBRATE THE MACHINE.” My brain was screaming, WHAT?? YOU NEED TO DO THIS NOW? I HAVE 7 fu*&%ng MINUTES. It took a few minutes to do, I went through, gathered my belongings and started to walk as fast as possible which wasn’t fast enough. I kicked off my flip flops, grabbed them and ran to the gate. I asked the ladies there if I made it and they said barely. Once I got on the plane there was a girl in MY SEAT. Oh no you don’t.. I said, you are in my seat, three times before she looked up from her phone. She said, I’m in 8F, I said, good because I am in 8A and you are in my seat. There was already someone in 8F and the 2 people in 8D and E were both ticketed to sit in the same seat, 8D. The girl in my seat said you can just sit in 8F and I said NO, I want my seat. Dammit to hell..They finally got that straightened out and I was in my seat and off to Baltimore, not arriving until 12:30 AM. Only 1 suitcase arrived, thankfully it was the full and not the empty one. I went in to the United agent who was super sweet and helpful. She looked it up and said, “it’s in Houston, TSA confiscated it.” WHAT? It’s empty except for an empty Samsonite nylon duffle bag.  She assumed that’s why it was taken and assured me it would be delivered to me in the Solomons on Friday. Luckily it was not a big deal to me, one less bag to haul for now.

My plan was to get a good nights sleep and then my friend from decades ago Bill Gross, who happened to be in MD at the same time (he is currently traveling the US) was going to pick me up for breakfast. I got to my hotel after 1 and crashed. I told Bill that I would call when I woke up and then he could come get me. I was aroused from the sleep of the dead at 8:30 by my cell phone ringing. I jumped out of bed and grabbed it, knowing it would be Bill. I was still mentally in a different time zone and wondered WTH he was calling so early, until I glanced at the clock. Holy shit, 8:30. I asked him how long it would take him to get here and he said, “I’m here.” Alrighty then, quickest shower in history, reloaded my suitcase and was out the door. We went to Crackerbarrel for breakfast and to rehash the many years that have passed. Funny, didn’t seem like that long since I had last seen him.

We spent a few hours chatting then he took me to BWI car rental where I picked up my illegally?? driven car for the week. Since my parents live 90 min. from BWI, I have no other options than to rent a car and use my credit card as the only insurance. The rental company never asked if I had insurance either. I do however have a legal US drivers license.

From there I drove to the Potomac Mill outlet in Woodbridge, VA. I had my heart set on a Vera Bradley backpack.

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The outlet mall is ginormous, I had a difficult time finding the store. Once I stepped in the mall I was overcome by the sights and sounds and people, swarms of them, everyfreakingwhere.

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I was elated when I saw the Vera Bradley sign and almost ran to the store. I was overcome with all the colors and patterns and sizes and styles and zippers and choices. The only pack I could decide on was black and that defeated the whole purpose, so I left. It was too much for me.

From there I drove back up towards Baltimore and then down to my parents. I was so glad to get out of the car! When I walked in their house they invited me into their “warehouse.” My room filled with boxes. All Amazon.com.

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This isn’t all of it, things were delivered for several days.

Just a few pics from Asbury in the Solomon’s, MD. The grounds are nicely maintained but that’s about the only positive thing I can say abut the “retirement village” they are living in.

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their back yard

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Their sun porch where they spend most of the time.

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Osprey nest, Solomon’s Pier

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Mama Osprey

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Guarding the baby birds

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Asbury Solomon’s buildings

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On the Patuxent River

Not going to go into the reasons we are displeased with the place they live, it’s too depressing. BUT, on the flip side, my parents are doing quite well considering Mom turns 90 on August 1st and Dad is 94. They both still drive, not a great distance but they are mobile. It’s always an adventure going to visit them and this time was no different. I find it exhausting changing your daily lifestyle for a week, but worth it in the end.

More on that and my revelation that I had while in Marshall’s in Lexington, Md. It was kind of an epic event for this shopper girl. Stay tuned for the rest of the story.