So my daughter and I had plans to go down to Florida and spend time with my parents over the long Veteran’s Day weekend. I arranged for her to be out of school on Thursday, bought tickets to West Palm and we were both so excited to get down there and away from the 30 degree temps that all of a sudden slammed into Massachusetts. The trip was multi faceted as we wanted to get away, yes, but we also wanted to see my parents, especially my mother who has been battling both physical and mental illnesses for the past year or more.
Thursday morning we got up and my husband drove us to Braintree to catch the Logan Express to begin our exciting journey south. We were all smiles as I bought the tickets for the bus and the ticket guy told me that Danielle would ride free because she was under 17. And then my phone rang. On the other end my dad’s voice came through sounding like he was about to tell me an asteroid was headed straight for us. He simply said “Hi Amy, you shouldn’t come down”. My head starting whirling and going in 55 different directions. He explained that my mother was disoriented and incontinent and unwell and that it would be best for us not to come down. 2.5 hours before the plane was to take off. After we had planned everything for weeks. After we planned and took off school and work and packed and bought tickets. I hung up with him and looked at my daughter who battled her own demons and is currently winning and her lip was quivering and a tear started rolling down her face. I quickly called my husband and asked him what I should do; should I come home, go down anyway and take a cab to the house, what should I do? He calmly said that I should get on the bus and get to the airport. Once there I should book a hotel and a rental car and have a well deserved vacation with my child. I cried and nodded my head to myself and told Danielle we were getting on the bus and going to Florida.
We pulled ourselves together and the two of us used all of our internet prowess to find an excellent deal on a hotel in Boca, book a rental car, and get to the airport for our flight to West Palm Beach. Of course I booked the car on rentalcars.com because it was the cheapest and we were both a little uncertain that when we landed the company didn’t have a window at the airport. We took a shuttle to our rental agency and thus began the most excellent adventures of Amy and Danielle in South Florida. The rental car agent was a one woman comedy act and as she spoke and made subtle jokes, our anxieties and stresses began to melt away with laughter and smiles.
We climbed into our Nissan Versa and got onto 95 heading southbound to start our unplanned trip to a hotel in Boca. This started the joke about the power of the Versa. It took about 15 minutes for the car to go from zero to sixty and it sounded like it needed some chest compressions to get there so of course we were all “The power of the Versa is not to be trifled with”! It also started us on wondering why in Florida there are cars pulled over to the side of the road every 1/4 of a mile (Waze was very busy). I mean really, why are so many cars in Florida pulled over to the side of the road? If you know please tell me as Danielle and I are very curious.
We were very pleased that the hotel was right off the highway and that it didn’t look like the Bates Motel. We were even more pleased to learn that the hotel included breakfast (including omelette bar) every day and that we got 3 free drink tickets each for our stay (I was most pleased). The hotel had a pool and hot tub and it took us about 5 minutes to get in our bathing suits and get our stark white northern bodies down there. The room had a king sized bed and a pull out sofa in a separate room but of course we opted to stay together.
We planned out our trip and again luck was in our favor as we found Groupons for both butterfly world and Lion Country Safari. Butterfly world was 2 hours of zen and we alternated between sitting still while butterflies surrounded us to moving through the aviary looking all around at the hummingbirds buzzing through the trees at lightening speed. She ate a chipwich and I ate a frozen banana that we made fun of for the rest of the afternoon.
The next morning was bathing suits and pool. Danielle turned to me covering her mouth and dying laughing on the inside and urged me to look behind her. I found an elderly man in a speedo bending over so that his whole backside was basically in her face to which she said “this gives new definition to balls to the wall”. We achieved maximum sunning and got ourselves ready for lion country safari including making sure we peed ahead of time since the last time I went I had to pee in a cup on the journey. We saw water buffalo and chimps and rhinos and gazelles and ostriches and antelope and lions. We walked through the park and saw more animals and sweated a lot and got soft serve to go eating it as it dripped all over our legs and feet.
Thor was next up with my parents and Danielle and I decided that it was one of the funniest superhero movies we had seen besides deadpool. She crushed on Chris Hemsworth and me on Mark Ruffalo and we both thought the actress that played Valkyrie was hot and bad ass. The weekend ended with the melting pot and eating too much and laughing our faces off as we reminisced about our adventures.
Intertwined in it all we saw my parents and we saw my mother not be able to walk steadily, refuse all food, shake uncontrollably, and stay in her bedroom for dinner. We cried about how frail and ashen she looks and spoke of how we think she has given up the will to live. I yelled to my father about it and then cried some more and he just said those words “It’s up to her; she needs to decide she wants to be here”. She showed little in the way of humor and under her breath would say “I just want to die”. And as I was crying in the car back to the hotel one night Danielle said to me that she wanted to talk to my mother. I asked what she would say and she told me that she would tell my mother that she knows what it’s like to not want to live and that when she felt that way she would think about everyone who loved her. Doing this she found the will to survive another day. She said she would tell her that at some point after surviving for everyone you love and that love you, one day you wake up and realize you are doing it for yourself instead.
I will leave you with that. Fake it till you make it and until you are not faking it anymore. This was the magical and healing part of our trip and I’m so happy we went.