Back in Florida!

11 days in Illinois! Of course 2 days were spent getting there and back. Thursday Randy got up early to get me to the airport at 6 am.  A couple hours later I was on my way!
I got to St. Louis by 9:40 where I was met by Aaron, who took me to the car rental office (Enterprise, of course!). It turned out that I was picking up a car at the only rental branch that requires proof of insurance. Of course I didn't have any with me; I had to guess which insurance company we have. They called the insurance office and it turns out I guessed correctly, so they let me have the car. From there it should have been a 3 hour drive to Washington. I've made that drive countless times and it always takes 3 hours. But this time it took almost 5 hours. I stopped once to eat, and another time I stopped for a 40 minute nap. Apparently I'm not as young as I used to be!

But the reward for all that was that I got to spend the next nine days with Mom. This was the longest time we've had together since I got married. The only thing I didn't enjoy was the weather. Friday morning I took Mom to a doctor appointment, to get her new hearing aids. I went outside to start the car and discovered the windshield was covered with frost. Yikes! It has been so long since I had to deal with this that I didn't even think to check the trunk for a scrapper; I just used my Costco card. I remember how to do this, after all.
And another day, it hailed! No wonder I moved away from here!
No matter, we had a great visit.  We followed our usual pattern of going to Walmart (almost) every day, having lunch at DQ, and shopping at Goodwill and Etcetera thrift stores. No matter what else happens, we always do those things. 

Mom has been volunteering at the library since she retired, which is over 25 years. When she started, the library was 1 block from her house. Now it's on the other side of town and Mom hasn't driven in years (which is a good thing). But she can still volunteer because every week someone from the library picks her up, then takes her home afterwords. They are so good to her! And Saturday they had a surprise party for her at Busy Corner in Goodfield. It was my job to get her there on time, without giving it away. Not the easiest thing to do but it all worked out, and she had a wonderful time.

Tuesday I drove Mom out to pick up her friend Kathleen. For years Kathleen has been driving into town to visit Mom, but her concussion last year stopped that. I was so glad to help them get together again. And what did they want do do? Go shopping at Goodwill and have lunch at DQ, of course! 

Thursday was Mom's day to volunteer at the library, and this time I was her chauffeur. Right after that was her monthly Red Hat meeting. She dressed up a little extra special this time, and I borrowed a purple top and red flower hair combs and went with her.  
Friday night Mom, my sisters, my niece and I all went to a big Chinese buffet for dinner. Now nobody in my family eats Chinese food; the idea was that, since buffets serve a lot food, there would be something for everyone. There was, but it wasn't something we particularly liked. For example, the "Carved Ham" station had this:
Saturday my sisters and I gave another surprise party for Mom. We invited her Red Hat friends and the friends who live around her. We set out cake, cookies, flowers and decorations, I took a zillion pictures, and everyone had a lovely time. 

Sunday Mom and I went out for lunch one last time with Kathy and Becky. To nobody's surprise, we went to DQ again.

In between the running around I did a few tasks for Mom. My sisters get to help her throughout the year but these weekly visits are my only opportunity so I always ask her to make a list of things for me to do/fix. This years' list was easy, except for the shutters. The shutters on one side of her housed needed to be painted (I did the ones on the other side in 2014). I got them down and cleaned them, but painting should be done in at least 50°. What with the frost and sleet, I couldn't get that. When the weather finally hit 45, I went ahead and painted them, then put them in the garage to dry, hoping it would be a few degrees warmer there. They turned out fine, but then I needed a decent day to put them back up. The only time I saw the sun shine was Saturday at 2:00 as we drove Mom to her surprise party, which was no help at all. By Sunday I was out of options, so I brought the ladder out and Becky and I installed the shutters in the rain.

Monday I drove 150 miles back to St. Louis, had a great lunch with Kris who drove me from the car rental office to the airport, got back on another plane, and made it home by 10:30 at night. 
I had a wonderful visit, but I have never been so glad to be home in my life; not even when Randy and I came back to the States after spending 7 months in Spain. The difference was that he was with me a lot of the time I was in Spain, but this time I was without him. And I don't ever want to be without Randy for that long, ever again.

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