One of the advantages to being retired and a fulltime RVer is the ability and flexibility to pull up our jacks and head out quickly when our help is needed - more on that later.
We kicked off the month and the year by celebrating Lucille's mother's birthday. Pat fixed a wonderful pot roast lunch, topped off with the traditional birthday ice cream cake - it doesn't get much better than that. Not having filled our bellies enough that day, or at least that must have been the case, because how in the world did we have room the next day for some of the awesome fried shrimp at B & J's Steak and Seafood in Darien! Yvette's friend Karin, visiting from Germany, loves seafood in any shape or form and was game to join us for the 150-mile round trip to not only get some of that fabulous shrimp but meet up with Habitat friends staying in nearby Brunswick. The meal was great and the company even better.
We stopped at the Smallest Church in America. on the way back home. Located off of I-95, take exit 67 and drive approximately one mile south on Hwy 17. With limited funding, this non-denominational micro-church was built in 1949 by rural grocer Agnes Harper. Folks figured she couldn't afford to build the kind of chapel that would honor God but she felt it was the thought that mattered, not the size. This 10' x 15' structure looks like a doll house, has seating for thirteen people, and that probably includes the preacher and rubbing elbows with your neighbors. The stained-glass windows are from England and the pews have fold-away knee rests.
Reverend G. W. Ward was its pastor until his death in 1986, with members of the Young family helping him as caretakers. Services are still provided every third Sunday and the church is open for marriage ceremonies and baptisms. There is a donation box on the premises. Donations are very much welcome as church income was about $300 a year, which doesn't even cover maintenance. There's even a micro bell-tower in front of the church and a rope pull to ring the bell.
Now to the family emergency that brought us down to Florida several weeks earlier than planned. We've written about Lucille's two aunts who live in the Fort Lauderdale area. The oldest of the two, Florence, has been ailing and had been in the hospital and rehab since before Christmas. She was failing quickly so Lucille's mother flew down to visit her for a few days, staying with younger sister Lorraine, who would bring her to visit Florence. By the time Mom arrived, Florence was in hospice. The day after she arrived, Lorraine fell and broke her shoulder - probably the worst possible timing. Lorraine called requesting our help till she could get on some sort of schedule. We quickly made plans to leave the Savannah area within a day. We also pre-arranged for private transportation for Mom to visit Florence - thank goodness for Comfort Keepers! Mom has used their services for several years - Larry located a Comfort Keepers in Fort Lauderdale and arrangements were made for Bernadine to take Mom to the hospital, stay with her, then bring her back home - what an angel she was!
We hit the road late Monday afternoon after Lucille's annual medical appointments earlier that day, staying the night at the Brunswick Exchange Club Fairgrounds where our Habitat friends were staying. Early the next morning we were back on the road, arriving at Markham Park, the Broward county park at which we stay when in the area, by late afternoon. The staff was awesome (thanks Linda!) for shuffling our reservations and finding room for us to stay on the busy weekends - the locals love to camp there then and the park stays full. We paid a quick visit to Mom and Lorraine and made plans for the next several days, including taking Mom back to the airport on Thursday and safely seeing her off.
Sadly, Florence lost her battle a week later. We were glad we had the opportunity to see her several times before she passed away. She was as sweet and thoughtful and considerate as ever, and still had her sense of humor. Our favorite picture of her was taken many years ago with her two sisters. Neither Mom nor Lorraine wanted to be front and center so they nudged Florence up front and her smile speaks volumes of her personality. She had never married and was often a caregiver herself. She was well loved by all her nieces and nephews, her surrogate children.
We were kept busy between making funeral arrangements and helping Lorraine. Her doctor lined up home health care for her so we helped with meal preparation, groceries, laundry, taking her to medical appointments, and other items. The funeral service will be in two parts. Florence had relocated from Connecticut in 2000 and still has friends and family up there. A chapel service was planned for Florida and a funeral mass and burial will be in Connecticut in the spring. Family came from Rhode Island, Nova Scotia, Arizona and Georgia - a bittersweet reunion.
Cousin Marcel (Florence's only godchild) spoke at the chapel service, sharing some anecdotes about her. One of the accomplishments that she should have been so proud of but never talked about was that during WWII, with all able men off to fight the war, women were called on to do men's work in the factories. This petite gal learned how to operate an overhead crane during the war, joining the ranks of several other 'Rosie the Riveters'. Maybe her reluctance to talk about this part of her life was because she was embarrassed to be doing what back then was typically men's work. We certainly are proud of her for rolling up her sleeves and doing what had to be done.
Time to move on to Palmdale to Sabal Palms RV Resort. There had been a snafu with the sites we reserved before we left last season but we found two suitable sites nearby - two because we were expecting Karen and Galen to join us in a few days - time to dust off our dulcimers! We quickly got back into our routine here, between our morning litter patrol and walking our 'adopted' collie Misty, practicing our music, and playing catch up with our extended 'family' here. The gals who were parked in our original site needed dependable wifi access to they moved over closer to the clubhouse. Our two rigs hopscotched down a couple of sites where we are now settled in through the middle of March. No streetlights out here which gives us a wonderful opportunity to see the gazillion stars - evenings are pretty quiet. We noticed a larger than normal sandhill crane population and found out from resident employee/wildlife expert Ken that one of the crane couples had four chicks last summer so we're seeing these teens along with their parents strolling around. We often see eight of them around the three ponds here - they are quite entertaining. Life is good here!
We found time to visit with friends Harry and Marie and celebrate Marie's birthday at the Jacaranda Hotel in Frostproof, Florida. The food was good and so was the company.