When one's mother is 97½, every significant day is perceived as, "this might be her last [insert name of significant day]".
As my sister-in-law, who lives in Tampa, and I were ironing out the details of the trip, we kept watching the weather forecast. And the plans for the trip seemed to change every eight hours. When we spoke on December 19, we were going to the mountain cottage and my older brother's home. By the 20th, we were questioning going to the mountains. By the 21st, we were definitely going to Hendersonville instead of the mountains, but the day was uncertain. And so it went. On the morning of the 23rd, the Jazzman and I looked at each other and said, "We'll leave this afternoon." We started throwing clothes and necessaries into bags. I finished work that a client was expecting, and he ran errands. He arrived home around 1:15, we threw the bags in the car, and took off.
It was lightly snowing when we left Youngstown, but there was virtually no snow through the rest of Ohio and West Virginia. We called ahead and made reservations at the Fairfield Inn in Wytheville, VA, where I-77 meets I-81. Friday morning we got up and out and arrived in Asheville at noon. We browsed in New Morning Gallery—one of my faves—and met my brothers, sister-in-law and mother at 12:45 for lunch across the street at the Grand Bohemian Resort in Asheville.
After lunch, we went back to Hendersonville to Mother's assisted living apartment. After we sent her off for her dinner at 5:00, we went back to our hotel, the Mountain Lodge in Flat Rock. We had a leisurely visit through the evening, an event that is rare for us.
On Christmas morning, we visited over breakfast again, then my older brother left for the airport, and the rest of us went back to Mother's to visit and have dinner with her. After dinner I played the piano for a while, then the Jazzman and I took off, through briskly and heavily falling snow, to visit the Biltmore Estate, which he had never seen before.
It was an exquisite visit. The snow and the fact that it was Christmas day had kept the number of visitors for the day down to 1,000. (They were expecting 6,000 for the next day!) We enjoyed seeing the rooms all decorated for Christmas and I saw four rooms that had opened since my last visit. Afterward, we went over to Antler Village and had soup and sandwiches at Cedric's Tavern.
Sunday morning my brother and sister-in-law left to drive back to Tampa, and we headed to Hilton Head Island, which is my idea of heaven-on-earth. I've been coming to HHI since 1989, and dearly love the time I spend here. We arrived about 4:00, did a little grocery shopping, then checked-in to my timeshare unit.
The beginning of the week was unbelievably cold, but each day has gotten a little better. What have we done?
- Go down to the welcome breakfast in the lobby; watch a couple of movies and fix a sandwich in the room; walk over to Harbourtown and have dinner at Crazy Crab; watch another movie. In short: veg out. Do what vacationers are supposed to do—nothing!
- Go to the spa at Marriott's Barony Beach Resort and get massages; come back to the room and hang out; a trip to the Marriott Surf Watch resort to sign up for a new exchange program; a walk along South Beach to watch the sunset; a visit to Tyler's and my favorite "Wise Guys" for dinner; come back and watch a movie.
- Drive to Savannah; drive around and look at some of the historic squares and their fountains; walk along the riverfront; have an Irish lunch at Kevin Barry's; drive back to HHI; nap/work; walk around Harbourtown; nosh and watch a movie; go down and soak in the hot tub.
- Go to Stacks for a great Southern coastal breakfast; golf for the Jazzman, work for me, some of it on the balcony overlooking Calibogue Sound.
On the first morning of next year, we'll head back to cold and snow, but tomorrow the high temperature here will be 69 degrees, so we're going to enjoy every minute of it.
This has been a most amazing year for me. I am honored each day to have the Jazzman in my life, to be loved and cared-for as he does for me. I am privileged to live near my grandchildren and to have them call out "Grandma!" each time they see me. I'm lucky to have so many good friends, near and far. My children are stable and successful. I have a good life!
May the New Year see us all as employed as we'd like to be, achieving our best and living our dreams.