Weddings and funerals are typically occasions for families to get together. When Lucille’s family got word of her father’s passing, plans were made to attend the funeral, with family coming in from all directions. Roger had already flown in from Arizona – his oldest son Russell was arriving in two days; younger brother Ray and family were driving down from Connecticut and hoping that the heavy snow storms experienced in New England would allow them to leave; cousins Gene and Carole were flying in from California; cousins Marcel and Mary Ann from Connecticut and Rhode Island; cousin Richard curtailed his European trip short; and relatives came up from Florida.
You’d think that Ray would have the hardest time, depending on road and weather conditions. In fact, his was the easiest trip. We could write a book about the adventures almost everyone else had trying to get to Rincon, Georgia in time. Their persistence in continuing their journeys, despite weather and air traffic delays, speaks volumes of how they regard Lucille’s folks.
Marcel and Mary Anne were delayed flying out of Rhode Island waiting for their plane to be de-iced – no complaints with that delay. They ended up in Charlotte later than planned then had to wait for the alternate flight crew to show up, and had yet another delay when the attendant was nowhere to be found (this was a small plane and only one attendant needed). A replacement attendant was found and they were finally on their way, about three hours later than originally scheduled. But wait – still more adventure. After picking up their rental car, Marcel missed the turn to Rincon, ended up in South Carolina (the nearest exit), then got wrong directions and got thoroughly lost in the Savannah outskirts. Lucille hopped in the car and managed to determine by phone where he was, got him turned around, met him at a local store and caravanned back to the funeral home, in time for the rest of the viewing.
Richard flew in from Europe, sleep-deprived and feeling under the weather, but he also made it for the rest of the viewing. Gene and Carole coming in from California …the weather had deteriorated to the point that they were diverted to Atlanta late Friday night. Rather than wait for an available flight that would get them to Savannah too late for the funeral on Saturday, they rented a car and drove in from Atlanta, stopping at a store so Carole could buy a funeral-appropriate outfit – her luggage had gotten lost, of course! They got in to Rincon about 6:30 in the morning and managed to get a few hours of sleep before attending the funeral.
The rest of us had our own challenges. Dad’s uniform couldn’t be modified enough to fit him for burial so Roger made a last minute run to WalMart for an outfit; Larry’s dress pants seem to have disappeared but his black jeans were new enough to pass muster. Russell’s decision to attend his grandfather’s funeral was so sudden, he needed to borrow a shirt from one, a tie from another – hmmm….it seems the men folks had clothing challenges!
The only pictures taken at the viewing were of the table that held photographs and military medals, Dad’s military uniform on display, and the purple hat. A little history about that purple hat - when we got married, Lucille’s father didn’t want the traditional father/daughter dance to be sad so he and Yvette went shopping and found this purple derby, so small it just perched on his head. Dad donned the purple hat at the start of the father/daughter dance music and immediately, the mood was lightened up – the only tears were those from laughing so hard. Over the years, that hat made an appearance many times. It was only appropriate to have it on display that evening.
The funeral at St. Boniface was very memorable for several reasons. We had picked out music for the Mass, with “Here I am Lord” being sung by the choir as the entrance hymn. What was very moving is that it was sung as the family followed the casket into church – very few dry eyes in the house. We played “Amazing Grace” on our dulcimers, accompanied by the organ and congregation for the second verse. After the funeral Mass, the ladies of the church typically provide a meal for the family, either delivered to the home or served at the fellowship hall. They went overboard – they prepared a feast for over a hundred people served in the church hall, giving us time to visit over a fabulous selection of pot luck dishes. We even got boxes of leftovers which fed the gang of folks coming and going at Pat and Yvette’s for the next several days.
Pat’s family had brought an entire meal over one evening – always lots of good food, so we had leftovers from that meal. Roger and Ray took turns cooking – Ray even brought some ravioli from the Grotto Restaurant from Connecticut, some wonderful take-out Italian food we all grew up with. Yvette made her famous crepes for breakfast one morning – we certainly didn’t lack for food.
On the Tuesday following the funeral, a few of the family members met at the cemetery in Springfield for a small but personal burial service of the cremains. We were surprised to learn that we could bury the urn ourselves, with no vault needed. Pat considered it an honor to dig the hole – the task made easier because of the loose sand. After Larry placed the urn in the hole and it was buried, Father Lamb from St. Boniface said a few prayers, we laid several of the beautiful flower arrangements we had received, and said our goodbyes – a short but meaningful ceremony. And what better way is there to celebrate someone’s life than at an Irish pub – we met for lunch at Kelly’s Tavern, one of our favorite restaurants in that area.
The last of the family departed the next day, including us as we pulled up our jacks and headed back down to Brunswick for a couple of days. Lucille had one last medical appointment in Savannah before we left Georgia, so we made ourselves useful for a few days with Habitat work. Larry spent one day with the rest of the gang doing a few indoor repair jobs at a Habitat home that had been completed two years ago, while Lucille got more familiar with the Care-A-Vanner evaluation program with which she is helping Mary Campbell, the Care-A-Vanner volunteer coordinator. Spreadsheets and word documents – right up her alley!
After having read an article about the Brunswick Care-A-Vanner group in a local newspaper, Arco United Methodist Church invited the entire group to join them for their Valentine Day’s spaghetti dinner – the meal was great and the games played were a hoot.
Time to leave Georgia – we’d been in the state since the end of October, the longest we’ve ever stayed there. Our ultimate destination was Palmdale, Florida, for a month of down time and relaxation. We dry camped overnight in the parking lot at the Orange Box Café in Frostproof – several areas are put aside for RVs and tractor trailers. We unhooked the car and then drove over to Harry and Marie’s where we enjoyed a dinner jointly put on by them and Rich and Linda. It was good to see them all, with plans to see them all again later.
After stocking up on citrus products and other fruits and veggies for sale at the café and enjoying breakfast there, we headed down to Palmdale, arriving at Sabal Palm RV Resort and Campground mid-day. We spotted several familiar faces but we weren’t recognized at first because we were out of context – we were back with a motor home instead of our memorable fifth wheel.
It’s good to be back in the area – we started our daily walks in the morning and in the evening. Our morning walk consists of walking north on the main road until we get to US Hwy 27 – after the first day, we started picking up litter and filled up several large garbage bags over the course of the next several walks. In the evening, we stroll around the various loops, occasionally spotting an armadillo or owl.
The park has certainly been spruced up even more since our visit last year. A 20 x 40 inground swimming pool has been installed; about thirty more sites are being added around two of the ponds; alligator yard art greets you at the entrance; bluegrass music every Saturday evening; potluck and bingo weekly; fresh produce for sale every Wednesday; and let’s not forget the bovine residents. Twin calves were born the first of the month, with the second one surprising everyone by making an appearance four days after the birth of the first. The herd now numbers ten – their feeding trough is by the office so you can count on their being there every day looking for a meal.
We made plans to meet up with friends Ron and Donna (currently working for one of the Disney properties in Orlando) and Greg and Kristie (friends who’ve bought a winter home in Tanglewood), meeting everyone at Lake Placid – known for their murals and as the caladium capital of the world. Lunch at Main Street American Eatery was very good, especially the huge hot fudge sundae we shared.
Toby’s Clown School is also located in Lake Placid. We toured the small museum and gift shop. A little history about the clown school – Keith “Toby” Stokes moved to Lake Placid in the 1980s for health reasons. He started practicing his art of clowning at the local hospitals and got so popular and needing help that he started the school, with the first class of six clowns graduating in 1993, spreading smiles, love and laughter within the community. They perform at local hospitals, nursing homes, schools and similar venues. To date, 1500 clowns, including Junior Joeys (8-12 year olds) have been taught the art of clowning.
The colorful mural on the outside of the building depicts what clowns do to spread smiles amongst the community. Folks come from across the United States and the world to learn the art of clowning. Lake Placid has more clowns per capita than anywhere else. What interesting factoids we learn when we visit an area.
Lucille had trouble with one of her teeth and located a dentist in nearby La Belle. Bad news – one of the teeth crowned last fall is abscessing – just great…After looking at options (root canal and another crown) or getting it pulled, we decided the tooth needs to go – only about 25% of the tooth is being used because of its location. What a waste of time, money and stress to have gone through last fall. Since we changed our dental care from Alabama to Georgia three years ago, we haven’t seen the same dentist twice at the clinic we located. They all seem to have a different idea on what has to be done, a down side to not having consistency in care. That will change later this year when we change our dental care to Yvette’s dentist, who now takes our insurance – she’s been in practice for years.
We made a day trip to Tamarac to visit with the aunts and help them out with any honey-do items. Larry was kept busy with minor repairs on the house while Lucille helped Lorraine download updates and get familiar with her I-Touch. Lorraine is quite the quilter – she made a beautiful quilt for our bed but added a skirt to it to lengthen the sides – we picked it up during this trip as well as picked out material for placemats for our new kitchen table. On the way back, we stopped at IKEA and found a laptop table – what an experience shopping there is! We were wide-eyed walking around checking out the displays. We enjoyed one of the lunch specials at the café – Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce, washed down with a lingonberry drink. Can you tell IKEA is a Swedish store?
Our month had a special end to it – we attended a concert by Atwater/Donnelly in Davenport, about 100 miles away. Yes, that is a long way to attend a concert but it was worth every mile. Harry and Marie joined us, their first time hearing the talented duo. We were there in plenty of time to visit with Aubrey and Elwood who were surprised to see us. We have seen them now in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Arkansas, North Carolina, and two different locations in Florida. They may be performing in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories later this year, kidding us about popping up in their audience even there.
Coming up: We continue our stay in Palmdale for a couple more weeks then start heading north and west, with a stop in the Tampa area. We’ll be pouring over maps determining our route out west.