My Relentless Pursuit……Some Stops Along the Way – Greece.

I’ve been told many times that I should write a book. That’s likely never going to happen in the traditional form, not because I don’t have stories to tell… can’t be married for almost 35 years and raise nine children and not have a few good stories!! But I wouldn’t know where to start or how to keep it short.

But there are a few events in our journey that definitely have been memorable……like our trip to Greece.

We’d been married just a couple months shy of 4 years. In those four short years we were working out the kinks of being married, had suffered through the pain of a stillbirth, the joy of welcoming a daughter, and Glenn was learning to be ‘Dad’ to my son who was six years old when we got married.

We decided we would take a trip to Israel. We wanted to see in person some of the sites and places we had read about so often in our Bibles. We found an organized tour through 100 Huntley Street, which included nine days in Israel and five days in Greece.

Now anyone who knows me, knows that travelling abroad is just not my thing. To say that flying terrifies me, would be a huge understatement! But I figured if I was going to risk life and limb, this would be a trip worthy of the inevitable angst I would experience. It didn’t help that we were leaving our two children at home, Jeremy was ten and Stephanie only a year and a half. Oh, and I was also six months pregnant with our son Joel. But off we went…

Israel was amazing, though incredibly hot…..especially being pregnant. Unfortunately, much of it is a blur as it is nearly impossible to absorb all the information, history, and key events related to the whirlwind of places we visited, all in one trip. But we made it through the nine days, walked, I’m sure, hundreds of miles, and spent just as many dollars in phone calls, calling my mom who was staying with the kids. But by the time the nine days were over, I was done!! I missed my kids and I cried all the way from Israel to Greece, and all I could think was, “I am on the wrong freaking plane!!!” I wanted to go home!

We landed in Greece, boarded the bus with the rest of our tour group and headed for the Parthenon. I’m sure it was impressive, but I didn’t care. It was later afternoon when we boarded the bus again and headed for our hotel.

I don’t remember getting ready to go down for dinner…….my next recall is finding myself sitting down for our meal with two of the more elderly ladies from our group, at our table for four. It was Friday evening and our first time chatting with these two lovely ladies. I do remember that I had worked hard to stop the flow of tears before arriving for dinner and was determined to make the most of the evening.

Invariably, the conversation began and it wasn’t long before these ladies were asking about our lives. They asked Glenn if we had any children. I gulped and tried to deep breathe, repeatedly telling myself internally, “It’s okay, everything is okay, don’t cry. Glenn explained that we had a ten year old and little girl that was under two being well taken care of by grandma while we were gone. Then one of the ladies (I never did remember their names), but I do remember she was the one on the right, turned to me with much sympathy and concern, looking right into my eyes and said…. “You must really be missing them…”

There was no turning back, no dam that could have held back the tears that began to flow, and I sobbed out my answer, “Yes, I really do….”

Dinner was over. I don’t even know if I ate. We went back to our room and went to sleep…….well, Glenn went to sleep. Not me!!! I lay awake waiting for the morning light. I’m pretty sure Glenn had barely even become conscious before I had him up, begging him to go home.

This was Saturday morning and we weren’t due to fly home til Wednesday. I couldn’t even imagine 4-5 more days. We didn’t have a cell phone in those days, so knowing that his life would be nothing but misery for the next four days, Glenn (God bless him) reluctantly headed downstairs to find a phone booth and call the airport. Naturally, I was right behind him!

I stood outside the phone booth praying my heart out while he called to see what he could arrange. When he hung up and opened the door of the phone booth, I stood expectantly hoping for the best.

“The next flight out isn’t until Wednesday…” he said, but I could tell by the way he said it, he wasn’t telling me everything. “What EXACTLY did they say, Glenn?” I asked. He kind of squirmed, and hemmed and hawed and then started, “W-e-l-l-l….there is another flight but it leaves this morning at 8:30 (it was now around 7:30 – I should have woke him up at 4:00!!!). “We’ll never make it….” he declared.

We may have only been married four years, but it was long enough that he knew I was never going down without a fight. I mean, how do you know if you don’t try, right??? So, with resignation in his face, he listened as I begged “Let’s just try!! We’ll pack our bags and go to the airport and if we miss the flight we’ll just come back!”

I don’t think I’ve ever packed so fast!!!! We flew out the door and hailed a cab. We told the driver we wanted to go to the airport and he replied something in greek which we did not understand. We just kept saying airport and nodding our heads, yes! He spoke no English, we knew no greek….but off we went!!

NOW we know he was probably asking which airport…….we didn’t know there were two!!!! As luck would have it, he took us to the wrong one first!!! I have no idea how he realized that before we left the car, but he did and he got on his radio and called the right airport. I have NO idea what he told them, but when we pulled up to the airport doors, every staff member was standing along the path to the boarding gate waving us through and telling us to hurry. They never made us go through customs, never stopped us to pay the fee to change our travel date, never even looked to see if we had passports, but frantically just kept moving us forward. When we boarded the plane, everyone else was already seated and looking irritated, even border-line angry. I don’t know who that cab driver told them we were, but they had held the plane on the tarmac for almost half an hour to wait for us to board!!! I didn’t care if two hundred other passengers were ticked at us, I was going home!!!!

When Glenn tells people we’ve been to Greece, he says he saw the Parthenon and the airport!!!

HE can go back some day….

Tomorrow it’s back to reality, but these memories I will cherish forever….

My seven day work stretch couldn’t end quick enough. I worked until 11 p.m. Wednesday night and by 10 a.m. I was on the road, heading to see some of our children and grandchildren!!!

We had a nine or ten hour stretch ahead of us and it was a beauty of a day for driving!!! Sunshine, A/C, and great company for the trip….

We hadn’t gone 45 minutes yet!!!! LOL

Everything went well until we hit construction just north of North Bay….the one drawback of summer travel!!!

Anyway, I’m just going to flood the rest of this post with pics and captions, except to say that I had the most amazing week… I will cherish forever!!!

Fun in the sun….

Waiting for “Chippy…”

And he came…..right up on the deck with all of us sitting right there.

The adults just enjoying the day….

Then a two night (was only supposed to be one) stop over in Huntsville to see some of our other kids….

I found this little guy stowed away in my clothes when I searched my basket… I guess Macy didn’t want grandma to be lonely…. <3

Summer is finally here!!!!!

Anyone else find this winter seemed like it would NEVER end???????

Maybe the whole Covid19 thing made it seem even longer. Life definitely took an unexpected turn and thrust us all into something we didn’t understand, or want – on many levels and for many reasons.

Certainly, having to work in healthcare throughout this crisis has taken a toll, on every one of us. I was so thankful to still have a job, yet it was the last place I wanted to be. There were many fearful, tearful moments and the pressure, risk, demands of the job, absolutely drained me…..and I’m not even a nurse! I can’t imagine doing what they do any day, let alone under these incredibly difficult and emotional circumstances. Nevertheless, it still left me numb and what feelings I did have, I still have been unable to define.

So these hot, sunny, longer days, have been just what the doctor should have ordered……about 3 months earlier!

You’ll notice I didn’t blog much… fact, hardly at all. What do you say? It’s hard to write about something you still haven’t truly processed…….especially because it’s not over. So many conflicting feelings, mixed emotions, and no time, or real knowledge, on how to even begin to unpack it all. It’s messed.

But if it’s taught me anything, it’s taught me to LIVE, and to value and invest in the things and people that make my life rich.

The circle is small……but that’s okay, it’s a great circle. It’s shown who is in my life and my acquaintance circle who can respect opposing opinions and gave me the opportunity to practice respect for the concerns of others, even if I don’t share them. Not gonna lie, my circle may have shrunk. And also not gonna lie, it’s frigging hard to be at opposite poles on issues when it’s someone you truly love and care about.

That may have been the hardest thing of all.

Politics, this virus and the measures implemented, BLM and riots in the streets, issues of faith and how they apply….

Even lifelong friendships have been challenged and tested. But they remain intact because we CHOSE to listen, to respect the fact that we are not the same and we see things differently, and while not ignoring those differences, we CHOSE to focus on the things we have in common, the values we share, and the love that runs deep.

At our staff meeting yesterday, you could see that people are running on empty. There are no reserves right now and my heart goes out to the amazing nurses that serve from depleted emotional and physical resources to keep everything as safe and ‘normal’ as possible for those they care for.

During the staff meeting yesterday, our manager told us that we have all suffered trauma and that it is real. I am so thankful for a manager that actually cares and truly ‘gets it’!!! It is amazing how uplifting it is, and how much renewed “give a *(#%” you feel when you know someone has your back and truly supports and cares about you.

Anyway, back to summer….

Pelican made a few bucks off me this summer. I bought a kayak for my husband and my granddaughter. We got the “sit on” kind…partly because I am terrified of getting in and out of a real one, or getting stuck in it. But most of all, for the stability. My balance sucks because of weakness in my core and my ongoing battle with vertigo. And, as most of you know, Glenn has a trach, so it would be disastrous for him to end up in the water. We wear life jackets…..every single time, but still, the extra stability is a comfort and safety measure.

Anyway, may we all find healing and renewed hope in the sunny days ahead. Just sitting out on the deck is renewing for me, but I plan on spending many hours paddling through the waters, by myself and with others.

Stay well friends….and I don’t just mean Covid. In many ways, the virus itself, was not my biggest threat. Depression, withdrawal, despair, hopelessness, fatigue (both physical and emotional…..mostly emotional), threatened my well-being more than the dreaded virus ever could.

Drink deep from all this season has to offer.

Garden is in and doing well….

Let the paddling begin….

Just hanging out at home…with the people I love!! <3