I went to Florida because my stepmother had a stroke in May. Her mother was there for several weeks, but after she left, I went down for a few days to help my dad and Evie out a bit. I flew down June 1st, which would have been perfect, except that I had to be back in time for Shavuos, which started the evening of June 5th. So I just had a few days in Florida.
A short trip was a good way to start, though, because it gave me a chance to ease into the confines of visiting my dad at his new house. Since they don’t keep kosher, I had to figure out what to do about meals, but since the trip was on such short notice, I was less than organized about how to approach it. So it was good that it was a short trip.
Evie was already starting to improve by the time I got down there. She tires easily and she gets terrible headaches when she’s under any kind of stress or frustration (which is often). But she’s working hard to make progress. She goes to physical and occupational therapy (back-to-back) twice a week and Speech Therapy (which is really more cognitive therapy than anything) also twice a week. It’s a busy schedule for them. I didn’t do that much to help, but apparently every little bit counts. I did some vacuuming and a modest amount of cooking. Evie’s a very picky eater, so frankly I was more concerned about making my dad happy. No matter what I made her she wasn’t going to like it. Except Jello. She loved it when I made strawberry jello for her. J
I think my father was a bit dismayed that I couldn’t eat much of what they had in the house. The first thing I did when I got there was drive to the grocery store (after we’d dropped my bags off at the house) and buy fruit and veggies, bagels, cream cheese, tuna, etc. Things I figured I could live on for 3 ½ days. My dad definitely seemed confused some of the time and wasn’t really sure why I couldn’t eat certain things, but he was very understanding and didn’t belittle me for it or anything.
Not a single word was said about the snood that I wore every time I left the house, which was just fine with me. I know that must have looked ridiculous in Orlando. Me in long skirts, long sleeves, and my hair covered. Oh yeah. Definitely the style in bright sunny Orlando where everyone else was wearing short shorts, tank tops, and had their sun-bleached hair up in ponytails. That’s okay. I don’t have to look the part. I’m comfortable with who I am. So there.
While I was there I did manage to get a fair amount of work done, which was good, because I really didn’t have enough vacation time to take the trip down there.
I had initially had some trepidation about going down there and not renting a car, because I didn’t want to feel trapped and like I had to “get Dad’s permission to use the car”… I never had to do that growing up because I didn’t drive until I was out of the house, and I really didn’t want to start now. But my father was open-handed with the keys. Evie’s car, of course, wasn’t being used because she can’t drive yet. But he had me take his car whenever I wanted. He drew me a little map of the area, plus a map of how to get to my grandmother’s house, and I was pretty much left to my own devices. That little bit of independence really does go a long way toward shalom bayis (peace in the family), which my father seemed to intuitively know.
I did take one day to travel down to Fort Pierce (about 2 ½ hours) to see my grandmother. She’s rapidly losing her vision, but she’s otherwise in top physical condition. I think she’s seriously healthier than I am. J Seriously! Can only hope that at her age (84 or 85?) I am half as sprightly as she. It was a very long drive to make by myself. I don’t normally mind that long a drive, but I spent several hours with my grandmother, and I was sleepy when I left. Then it started pouring. So the drive home took over three hours. I was quite exhausted.
I normally try not to ogle over people’s houses too much because I don’t want to end up coveting that which I don’t have…but my father’s house is nothing short of palatial, particularly in comparison to any equivalently priced house here in the DC area. It has 5 bedrooms (two of which are being used as home offices as both my father and Evie work from home), 4 full bathrooms, a three car garage, living room, family room, “rec room”, dining room, a huge kitchen and a little sitting room. Oh, and the Master Bedroom has it’s own sitting room. Not to mention that they have a lanai (screened in porch) with a small pool and hot tub. It’s simply gorgeous. The whole house is painted in a light beige with stark white trim, which is very striking. It has lovely high ceilings and a lot of windows. Much of the downstairs has quite an open floor plan (with the exception of the offices and bedrooms). Upstairs contains only the rec room (with their flat screen High Definition TV that’s bigger than my whole entertainment center…like their 54” TV wasn’t enough?) and the fifth bedroom, plus a wet-bar. It’s really quite incredible.
And someday soon, I’ll follow with:
- Shavuos at Bethany Beach
- house stuff
- changing working conditions
- latest DVD acquisitions
- my brother-in-law
- thoughts on Jewish Observance