Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We Started Out Visiting Family

We hit the road two weeks ago. The Girlz had their Tag Readers, movies, computers, water bottles, blankets, and every other imaginable trinket in the back seat with them. And we drove. And drove. My dad was at our house before we left and drove up to Maryland, so when we got on the highway, we set up a meeting spot and he followed along with us. My mom let me do all the driving since I tend to get car sick. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. We stopped at South of the Border and spent the night and then my dad drove onto Florida since he didn't want to "linger" the way my girlz and I tend to do...
Driving into Florida got me very sentimental. It hasn't been my home for 18 years but my family is still there..As in uncles, aunts, and my grandmother. Many people think of Florida as two things, Disney World and the beach...But it is so much more. I was born in Northern Florida in a town called Gainesville. Just south of there is BIG TIME horse country. So when I think of my childhood home, I tend to remember it as horse country.
I have never seen such green grass. And the shiny coats on the horses made me wonder if there isn't something to that mane and tail horse shampoo you see every now and then. There is an easy comfort to this part of Florida. Nothing too fancy, yet full of million dollar estates that have trained many a Preakness or Belmont winner.

And then there are these. Old school stores. I don't know if every state has these, but in Florida, they have many.
Something very "white trash" about them, but also something very historical. Signs that haven't been repainted, soda coolers with the bottle openers on the outside. On a good day, you can go in and purchase boiled peanuts, spicy or plain. We are plain girlz in this house.

My uncle had a tobacco farm not too far from here. He also grew watermelon and cantaloupe. For years and years, high schoolers would come out and work for him cutting tobacco. After you did your time in the field a few years, you could come into the barns and sew the leaves together. My sister worked it for several summers. Me? I opted out. I preferred being broke even as a youngster.
We arrived at my Grandmothers house after a few days on the road. Because of a couple of health problems she was placed in a rehab, and now she is in assisted living, but at 90, she still plans to come home. If she could find someone or a program that would work with her at her house, she could do it..She and her sister on working on it..She hates the place she is in right now. She told us there were too many old people there..

Being in her home without her there was sad. So many memories. The pictures on the walls, the hundred year old microwave, little nick nax I remember from my childhood almost haunted the place. Things I had forgotten about, like the fact that my grandmother wore a fancy nightgown, and a matching robe over it. And all of her nightgowns were hung up after being washed. Rows of hangers filled with nightgowns. And the Daniel Green slippers in every color. I had also forgotten that my dear grandmother loved jewelry. Some costume, some not. But not the costume jewelry we have now. She has an entire wall cabinet full of the really great, detailed jewelry from 50 years ago..My girlz had fun with that under my mom's watchful eye..
Part of seeing her in her "old folk's home" was fine. Part of it was sad. And the other part was just miserable. Seeing so many people just laying/lying around waiting for their end to come. And most of those people are alone. Sort of heartbreaking in a lot of ways.
While in Northern Florida we drove some of the same roads, saw some of the same places that I have seen since I was a child. And mixing it in with seeing my grandmother and my aunt who is also in rehab for a stroke, made the beginning of our trip mildly depressing. But as grown ups we have to do these things. It was important to show my girlz how we treat our family. And adding a few days into our vacation in order to see family was not such a big deal...We knew while making those visits that we had Disney to look forward to. So we visited.
And then I left my mom there to continue visiting and I drove down to see my dearest high school friend. We have been besties since we were in junior high school when we started cheering together..But that will be another post. Needless to say, we had lots of laughs!


Annie said...

You painted some great pictures there... I'm glad your grandma is coming home; I think whenever people are segregated by age, the result is not optimal....and I actually think that about school, too.

I think I'd like my peanuts spicy. The other day Zhen asked, "Why are peanuts named after a body part?"

Tina in CT said...

I was wondering where you were on your journey. I'm sure your family was thrilled to see all of you.