It's so good to be home again. The kids and I left early Friday morning for a visit to my hometown and my parents. We had a great trip both ways in the car - nobody got beat up or grounded (there may have been occasional loss-of-dessert privileges however), and the gas prices were $.50/gal. cheaper in PA than in NY which was a nice treat.
We went straight to my dad's nursing home, before my son's head exploded. He had been asking for a week if it was the weekend yet, and we could see Papa George. My dad was as "on" as I've seen him in two years. We visited three times and all the visits were wonderful, with very little inappropriate stuff on his part, and much joy and fun on Jude's part. It's harder for the girls because they're intimidated by the dementia/Alzheimer's patients, who are lonely, and lost, and a little too in-your-face to kids sometimes, but Jude was a joy. He talked happily to everyone, and cheered up the whole floor. The elderly women there just love him to death, and I wish he could visit everyday. He spent most of the first visit standing next to my dad's chair with his elbow resting on dad's shoulder, talking a mile a minute.
It was really hard to leave him today - the patients make me so sad, and I hate leaving him; I'm glad we have plans to go back next month for the holidays.
We also visited with my mom, and we had just the most amazing discussions about my calling and religion and spirituality. I think really, the most honest and non-confrontational talks we've had ... ever? Really. I look forward to more of the same. I left her with my copy of A Chosen Faith, and we cooked together and she made ham sandwiches for us to bring home on our trip. Nobody makes a ham sandwich like my mom. Despite all our differences, there is something about being fed by my mom that keeps me connected to her.
We also had the joy of visiting with my friend Jane, who always nurtures us. We stayed overnight and the girls got to visit with her girls, so they all disappeared and great fun and conversation was had. It's always like we've never been separated, which is the gift of true friendship. We also visited with my newly married friends Keith and Erica, who made us delicious pancakes for breakfast and provided me with a wireless fix! They also kept me plied with my morning coffee and I got to snuggle with their golden retreiver, which made me miss Jakob a little less.
We also got to visit the UUFCC, which was SO great. The sermon was on Ethical Eating, and having been subjected to one recently that made me mostly pissed off, it was great. Rev. Mark is a wonderfully conversational minister, which I had forgotten, and it was a joy to hear him speak again. It was also wonderful to see so many old friends and to realize that those connections have stayed strong. The funniest part of the service was the Opening words. Mark said the words and went to light the chalice, and Lucy, quite clearly said, "Ohhh Kayyy!" It was a perfect toddler Amen! I listened to 1/2 of the service from the nursery, which they have kindly added speakers to since I last attended.
And I must have one of their cool new coffee mugs!
The older girls went to class and had a blast with their teachers, one a former mentor of mine - I can't wait to visit again. I was tickled to look out the sanctuary doors and see Nittany Mountain while listening to my former violin teacher play the prelude.
We missed home and it's good to be back, but this trip was remarkable for it's ease. The kids are getting so much easier to travel with. And Tom and Jakob were happy to see us, and Tom got his chores done and even vacuumed and made chicken soup for our homecoming!