This year in 2020 has been like no other we’ve ever experienced, thanks to the COVID-19 which is plaguing the world. Like everyone else we are dealing with it the best we can. Fortunately I retired last December and no longer have to travel for work, and recently I got my neck brace off after wearing it 24 X 7 for six months. Steve (DOS) and I have been going back and forth to Roanoke via car as we still don’t feel comfortable flying yet. It’s now August 19th, and we got back home to Orlando last evening after being gone for nearly a month.
While we were in Roanoke, we celebrated Mom’s 88th birthday (last post), as well as my 58th birthday in early August. My brother Andy and his partner Art fixed a nice birthday evening for DOS and me at their home, which is conveniently a short walk of only 5 houses up the street from my parents old house where we are staying.
Andy and Art decorated the house with birthday banners, animated stuffed animals, birthday napkins, glasses etc. while DOS brought a bunch of birthday balloons.
Andy and Art actually made the dinner up in stages with an appetizer and drinks bar, salad bar, entree selection, and finally a dessert bar!
I had a great birthday, and believe me with this COVID thing going around it’s much more desirable (and safe) eating at home these days than venturing out in public. Plus I could take my time and have more fun opening presents, enjoying my birthday cake and seeing their adorable dog Barnabas!
We did go out to Frankie Rolland’s Steakhouse one night when my sister Jenni was in town to celebrate Andy and Art’s one year wedding anniversary. While Andy and Art have been coupled for 26 years, only last year did they legally get married in Virginia.
The wait staff, (many of whom) had been to Andy and Art’s wedding sat us at our favorite and semi-private table, and we felt comfortable (from COVID) there with their social distancing and other procedures in place. Frankie’s is always a wonderful night out of fine dining and fun, but this one year anniversary celebration was extra special.
As my Mom is in hospice care at the assisted living facility where she is staying, we three children (Andy, Jenni, and myself) have been trying to see Mom daily, at least by one of the children if not all.
Andy lives in Roanoke, while Jenni and I are from out Maryland and Orlando respectively. Jenni is out of work right now due to the downsizing in the travel industry, so while unfortunate, she is glad to be spending extra time with Mom during these somewhat difficult days. We’re fairly confident she will work again in the travel/cruise industry once it gets going normal again, though it may not be for a few months, but for now she cherishes having this extra time with Mom.
Steve and I have been staying at Mom and Dad’s old house (prior to her going into assisted living) and with Jenni’s help as well we have been downsizing the house contents and going thru countless boxes of papers, photos, cards etc, quite bittersweet in the process. I’ve posted photos before, but there are loads of black and white photos we keep finding, and Mom enjoys looking at them when we bring them to her at Harmony (the assisted living facility.)
While taking a break from the housework, it’s been nice having lunches at ‘home’ in Roanoke, sitting outside with Jenni and DOS, having food brought in from Chick Fil’a or even hotdogs off the grill which I served up.
We basically have done this routine daily for the last few weeks: go visit Mom in the morning and take her for radiation treatment, clean up the house (fill the donation boxes or set aside sentimental things to keep), have lunch, more housework, visit Mom in the afternoon, nap, and then dinner, usually at Andy and Art’s or a couple night’s a week at our temporary home where we are working, just down the street.
There were always a few laughs and smiles as we cleaned out the house or garage, finding some things we had worn as a child, old toys we played with etc, way before the internet was even a dream.
A couple night’s I grilled up some huge Cowboy Ribeyes, which DOS cut up and shared with the five of us. Since DOS and I have been coming to Roanoke so often (including especially last year) we bought a small Weber grill to use while we are staying at Mom and Dad’s old home. It’s really convenient now with COVID and having to stay home.
To keep the mood happy in these stressful times (Mom’s hospice, COVID, job worries etc) I had a couple theme nights when we grilled out: One was a Hawaiian night, and another was Christmas in August.
We found plenty of decorations to use around the house, from Hawaiian leis, to Christmas lights and trees. Coupled with the tiki torches we bought and some Hawaiian and/or Christmas music, we had some nice times, and good quality fellowship together.
And one night even Santa showed up and delivered dessert! LOL!
On Sunday, August 16th DOS and I headed back to Orlando via the two day car trip. If we had to we could drive the 10 1/2 hours straight thru, but breaking the drive up into a couple overnights really makes for a more relaxing trip.
The first night we stayed in Orangeburg, SC, which is a suburb of Columbia, SC. We stayed at a nice Hampton Inn and Suites for the night. We feel safe staying at the Hilton-owned properties such as this Hampton, which have cleaning stickers everywhere, and have a seal on the door you have to break to enter the room. And as always in these COVID times, we carry our portable HEPA air purifier.
The next day we drove further towards home, but instead of driving the whole way, we stopped three hours away from home at Jekyll Island. As I’ve written about many times before, Jekyll Island is a treasure for us; a ‘secret’ getaway not well know to the public, located approximately an hour north of Jacksonville, near Brunswick, GA.
Unlike most of our trips to Jekyll, we did not stay at the Jekyll Island Club Resort this visit as it was just for one night, and we are coming back and staying there for our pre-Christmas stay in December (with loads of Christmas decorations!)
Instead we stayed at the new Home2Suites by Hilton, which is adjacent to the new ‘downtown’ Jekyll stores, and is directly behind the Westin. While the Home2Suites doesn’t have an ocean view, it is a short two block walk to the beach, just beyond the oceanfront Westin.
After checking in, DOS and I drove the short distance over to the Historical part of the island, and walked around the area with the “Cottages” for a bit.
Although we didn’t have time to take the tram, we did stop by the museum and later saw Phyllis in one of the cottages she was touring. She has been a tour guide and (definitely the most knowledgeable one) for years on Jekyll Island. She created the special Christmas tour which is only available on weekends in December, which has become an annual tradition for us to go on. We were hoping they will still have it this year due to COVID, and she assured us they would, with the proper social distancing of course.
In the evening we met our good Jekyll Island friend Michelle for dinner at Zachary’s Riverside. Michelle’s husband Larson (a pilot) was flying somewhere so we didn’t get to see him, but we had a very enjoyable evening dining outdoors on the patio overlooking the Jekyll Island Marina. We had some delicious appetizers of Ahi Tuna and fresh peel and eat shrimp, along with a couple brewskis, and later our entrees.
After dinner, we walked out onto the marina dock area, and saw a beautiful sunset across the water, Jekyll Island Bridge, and the boats that were docked.
While we were only staying overnight at Jekyll Island, it was (as always) like leaving the country when crossing the bridge and going to a friendly island that is gentle and timeless. We always feel so relaxed when going to Jekyll, if only I could convince DOS to buy a house there!
Alas, we did have to go back to our house in Orlando the next day, which was an easy three hour drive from Jekyll. We were quite tired out from the month being gone, but it was so good to be home once again.
P.S. UPDATED Tuesday August 26, 2019
We were home in Orlando only a days before we turned around and drove back up to Roanoke. Last Friday Mom had either a stroke or more likely a seizure or similar caused by the brain tumor. We are quite busy now watching over Mom so won’t have much time to write and update the blog. Unfortunately Mom is not responsive now and can’t talk, although I know she can hear us by the look in her eyes. The Hospice staff have been wonderfully caring and I spoke with their Chaplain and Social Worker yesterday, as well as the nurses that come by daily. Please continue to keep Mom in your prayers for comfort and peace.