Back Home, Again

We took the Thanksgiving break as a chance to return to Jon’s hometown for a few days to see his family. We do this roughly once a year — but this year was a little different. Jon’s mom needs to move to an assisted living facility, so the trip centered on touring Cambridge House and meeting with her doctor to determine whether moving there would be in her best interest. She’s undernourished (weighing in at 95 pounds) and unable to perform some activities of daily living (ADLs), defined as those skills required to manage one’s basic physical needs, including personal hygiene or grooming, dressing, toileting, transferring or ambulating, and eating.

During our visit, a sort of sadness set in — one that comes from feeling helpless when you no longer live in close proximity to your loved one — and we realized that we hadn’t really absorbed it all until now: the brutality of her unexplained blackouts and falls (which we later learned were due to mismanaged blood pressure medications); that mixture of conflicting feelings every kid who grew up in an unstable environment feels upon realizing their strong and certain parent is, actually, neither; the intense love, sadness, and anger that flood back. In a quiet, tearful moment, Jon’s mom told him, “You’re a good son…you’re so sensitive to my needs.”

Maybe this is all TMI for a travel blog — scratch that, it absolutely is TMI for a travel blog — but anyone who follows us knows we write from the heart as well as the head, and after nearly a decade of blogging we don’t feel like putting up a front.

We left Dallas on Tuesday morning at 10:00, and arrived in Little Rock before sunset. Cliff had set aside some chili for a quick supper, which enabled us to focus on relaxing from the day’s drive.

We then departed on Wednesday morning for the St. Louis area, arriving in Belleville around mid-day ahead of our dinner with Jon’s nephew and his husband, and his nephew’s father and stepmother. A lively conversation ensued, and a delightful chicken tetrazzini was enjoyed by all.

Next day, we drove about 50 miles to pick up Jon’s sister and take her to Jon’s mother’s apartment, some 90 miles from there. Jon’s nephew arrived after 2 p.m., and preparations for the Thanksgiving feast began in earnest. We left shortly after 6 p.m. to return to Cloud 9, where we spent the remainder of the evening watching TV and unwinding.

On Friday, we planned to visit Jon’s mom during her in-home appointment with her doctor, but he failed to show. So we packed up Jon’s sister and drove back to Belleville so we could tour Cambridge House together. The facility is actually quite nice, although the apartment Jon’s mom will occupy is about half the size of her current apartment. But with all meals provided, who needs a full kitchen? After taking Jon’s sister home, we headed back to his mother’s apartment for our Friday steak night, with Chef Cliff providing seared tenderloins, asparagus, and baked potato.

Saturday morning found us welcoming Jon’s older sister to Cloud 9 for coffee and conversation, as has become our Thanksgiving custom. We then packed up and headed back to Jon’s mom’s place for a biscuits-and-gravy brunch before hitting the road for Little Rock.

Our later start time meant we would be traveling after dark, and through a pouring rain, which always makes for a more stressful drive. We arrived around 9:30 p.m., a bit “wired,” but safe.

The next day’s holiday traffic was surprisingly heavy, which placed us about 90 minutes behind schedule. Still, we made it back to Dallas in time to meet Cliff’s former seminary friend for dinner at Meddlesome Moth in the Dallas Design District.

It was a whirlwind of activity, to be sure, but that’s what makes for a great adventure!