June27, 2015

Ive been delaying watching the movie Still Alice.  I’ve been advised by my friends not to watch it yet.  It was on the que on the way from Orlando to Germany…I avoided it.  Yesterday, at our farewell dinner of our tour, a lovely lady named Alice actually, brought up the movie, quietly, to me.  My mom heard a bit of the conversation and joined in singing the praises of the movie etc.  Obviously , there is so much irony in this as their wasn’t a knowledge as to why this came up.  Also, she was glad to be included in the conversation about a movie she enjoyed.

Spring forward one day.

I watched the movie. Ugh.  So many tears on an airplane.  Gratefully, I’m sitting in the seat directly behind my mom, so she couldn’t see me bawling like a baby.  I’m sure the 2 people next to me think I’m either highly emotional or on my period!  Highly emotional yes.  Period…private.  Anyway.  Wow, that’s all I can think or say.  Wow.  It’s too huge to deal with.  Especially now, on an airplane.  It resonates with my in a big way though especially after the trip we just took.  A lot makes sense, other parts totally haven’t happened.  But wow.  Oh my Gosh.  I feel heartbroken for the future event of some future person.  I can see it.  It is out there still, but I can see it.  I’ve struggled with some of these situations over the last 2 weeks.  The constant questions, repetitive  questions, lack of memory, lack of understanding, empathy, and awareness.  As well as a lack of understanding social cues in public situations.

I can’t and won’t let it ruin our time, but the reality of it makes me so sad.  Grateful to be going home.

June 26, 2015

Well,it’s just about here!  We have been gone now 11 days and we return home tomorrow!  We have had the best time, met some of the absolute nicest people and seen some of the coolest things.  We had our final tour today, we went to Montserrat .  It is 2300 feet up a mountain and it is gorgeous.  I took most of my pics this trip with my actual camera so I don’t personally have a photo to show just yet.  There is a monastery up there, a nunery, a boys boarding school mostly focusing on music.  It is a beautiful campus.  It also holds a statue aptly called the Black Madonna.  It is in a gorgeous shrine surrounded by beautiful mosaic work.   You have to really want to worship, pray or meditate to head this far into the mountains.  I can’t even imagine what building it must have entailed.  Mom attended a Latin mass with her new BFF’s Gina and Manuel.  She was moved by it all. They were sweet to give me a little respite.  I walked around, shopped, took photos then sat by myself on top of this beautiful mountain.  It was lovely.  Mom and the BFF’s were 35 minutes late getting to the bus.  People were getting restless, but everyone said”we can’t leave Mamma Maria”.  Everyone was worried if she was ok.  She was/is, she just moves slow.  Anyway.  We have had a beautiful and blessed time.  We grew closer to each other and to God.    We are each respectively ready to be home with our people.  I miss them all so much!  I can’t wait to be reunited with my sweet husband, my babes, I miss my home and my pets, I miss my girlfriends and a small gaggle of kids that normally is seen hanging around my house!  I’m ready.  See you soon!

June 25, 2015

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona Spain Gaudi
La Sagrada Familia Barcelona Spain Gaudi

Today has been a good day.  Much better than yesterday-grateful to say.  We hung out last night with our new friends Beth and Tisha.  We walked down to Las Ramblas, downtown Barcelona, Spain,  and had dinner and drinks.  Oh my Lord… I have at least one drink with every meal except breakfast.  Jeez… Time to detox!!! I’m going to say though, I love the experiential nature of this country.  Here in Spain, Portugal and France.  They slow down, enjoy each other, enjoy a bottle of wine together.  They eat beautiful food made out of fresh ingredients. They don’t cook with or eat a lot of sauces or condiments.  It’s beautiful.  The whole experience.  We made our way home from a gorgeous dinner of tapas, and paella.  This morning we ate (not me…still stuffed from last night) then got on our tour bus.  We toured the city and went on a tour of La Sagrada Familia.  It took my breath away.  The whole exterior is covered in the story of Jesus’ life. Gaudi wanted everyone to get something out of the building even if they weren’t catholic, of religious.  When you walk in  you are bathed in sunlight from the gorgeous stained glass windows.  The cool colors are a statement on Jesus’ life.  That’s on one side of the building.  On the other side the stained glass is all in reds and oranges and yellows, and that is the story of the passion -His death.  No straight lines on the pillars.  The pillars look like trees. We were told by our guide, that the reason the pillars look like trees was because if you ask a Buddhist where to find God or enlightenment they would tell you in the forest under a tree, if you ask a Christian where to find God or Enlightenment, they would tell you in the temple.  This is a forest in the temple, so it can appeal to every one of any religion.  It was extraordinary!  My favorite place of worship to date.

Mom and I finished our shopping, we walked… and walked… and walked…, then grabbed a taxi back.  Funny enough, we are staying at a beautiful hotel, Porta Fira.  Our room is on the 15th floor.  Our room number is the same as my home address…1515.  Funny!  I miss home.  I miss my husband and my kids.  I’ve had the opportunity to FaceTime them a few times.  It’s great to see their faces.    My mom has really missed my dad.  I’m grateful for that.  He has missed her also.  He cried one time telling me how grateful he was that she and I were doing this.  He said “she sounds so happy.  You’ve made her life with this trip.  Thank you.”  It was very sweet and touching.  But they are ready to be back together.  Mom asks about him everyday.  She talks in her sleep most of the time, and many times she talks

about her dog and to my dad.    She was excited to bring him things she thinks he’ll enjoy.  It’s lovely.  It offers me perspective that even when they are angry with one another, or when my dad deals with her totally different from how I do or would, there is still lots of love and care there.  That is reassuring.  Anyway.  We are resting a bit prior to going to dinner and to see a flamenco dance.  Should be fun.

One more day, and this adventure wraps up.  We head back to Orlando from Frankfurt, Germany.  I look forward to seeing my family.

It’s been great though!

June 24, 2015

Just now left France.   Lourdes.  I adore France.  I am positive I could live here.  I think though that I feel that way about most of the places I go!  I’m inspired by the scenery, gastronomy, and the kindness of the people.  There are on average 20,000 people a day that visit Lourdes.  They are second only to Paris in beds available per night.  Pretty interesting for a location that pretty much was non-existent except for the fact that the Virgin appeared to Bernadette 18 times in a grotto.  The site itself is breathtaking.  Awe inspiring.  We participated in all there was to do here.  We went to mass, prayed the rosary…I haven’t done this since catholic school-elementary school.  I’m getting better!???. Anyway, we attended candlelight processions , checked out all the basilicas and churches, learned about all the saints and various people involved in the apparitions.  We then participated in the baths. We waited 2 hours in line to be brought to basically what looked like a cabana themed preparation room that smelled like roses.  Hundreds of volunteers were there to assist with the baths.  1000’s of people daily hope to have an opportunity to have this experience and they hope and pray for a miracle.  There are literally 1000’s of people in wheelchairs, with deformities, and in various stages of impairment.  It is heart wrenching.  When it is your turn, you are escorted into a changing cabana so to speak.  They hold a drape around you while you disrobe.  Then, when it is your turn you are led to a marble tub with constantly flowing water from a spring.  The story is that the virgin appeared and asked Bernadette to drink from the source of the spring and bathe in it. At that time, there was no spring, but she began to dig and it was if she were in a trance.  The water sprung from under where she was digging.  It has been a holy place since, a place of miracles.  Before your bath, you pray, set your intentions, and then you are immersed several times in the  icy water.  You are blessed and prayed over by these 3 women that are assisting you in your bath.  It is a life altering moment that invokes a flood of tears.  Beautiful.  While in my bath, during my time of quiet and prayer, I envisioned myself and the people I prayed for, surrounded and encased in white light.  Pure beautiful warmth, love, energy and light.  Lovely.  I highly recommend this beautiful and life altering experience and destination as part of your journey.

Today we head to Barcelona, Spain.  I’m Excited!  I feel as though I am growing a bit tired and weary.  I miss my family, and I haven’t been able to take any time for myself.  I’m used to a lot more autonomy. As much as I adore my mother and am savoring all these beautiful, life altering moments with my sweet mamma,it is difficult to be “on” 24/7.  She has become very absentminded, gets lost in seconds, and confused in her thoughts, words, and sentiments.  She misunderstands people constantly. Often, she feels as though people are mocking her or diminishing her thoughts or process etc.  She is also having a difficult time discerning social cues, such as when a conversation is “over”,when one should stop speaking, or allow someone else to speak, etc..  We have met beautiful, kind, gentle, souls on this journey, that respect our journeys respectively.  For that I am Grateful.  Today is the first time I broke down and cried.  It was over breakfast.  I was embarrassed.  I did not want to explain why the tears just kept rolling.  People very kindly and gently asked if I was ok, and where “Mamma Maria” was.  She was waiting downstairs by her luggage which I had to haul down 5 flights of stairs because she couldn’t get her self together in a timely fashion.  This process of packing goes on late into the night, every night, and still isn’t wrapped up by morning.  She packs, unpacks, repacks, and may do this several more times.  I had set out her things for her as I had done nearly every night.  I packed her back pack and then attempted sleep.  She went through this packing IMG_6704.JPGprocess several times while I was sleeping.  In the morning, she couldn’t find any of her clothes, undergarments, or various other items.  She was flustered, and many of her things were “lost”. It was frustrating for both of us. She had a difficult time figuring out how to use the shower, and swore it didn’t work.  It was just a difficult day and it wasn’t even 8am. I just needed a few minutes and some coffee.  Anyway, I fell apart and am now sitting apart from my mom so we can both pull ourselves back together.  We are stopped now, so I’ll chat later.

June 22, 2015

Fieneterre “The End of the Earth”

Our days have been so full!  And our internet connections weak! ❤️. We have just left Spain, and Wow!  What a gorgeous country.  All the pilgrimage locations were fascinating to me.  We saw thousands of people walking on various journeys that began at a myriad of starting points and thousands that were ending their journeys at St.James Cathedral.  We also went to the Coast of Death and Fieneterre -the end of the world where many also end their journeys.  I met super interesting people from all over the world on their various walks for their own personal reasons.  People were very open and honest about their walks and journeys.  I met a woman 64 years old from an island north of Isle of Skye which was so cool, because my dear friend, Angela, was there at that same time.  This was the woman’s third pilgrimage. She loves taking this pilgrimage with her children and their spouses to connect with God and the earth.  We chat and shared a table over lunch/dinner and while my mom was at mass.  We chatted  life in general and about the blessings of family.  We left by wishing each other a blessed life and good journeys.

June 18, 2015

Morning!  I’m currently sitting on our tour bus leaving Portugal-sadly!  What a gorgeous country!  It is awe inspiring!  Such kind courteous people, and such a devout group of people.   It was such a privelege to attend their services and travel through their country.  Gorgeous food, amazing wines (very inexpensive also ).  They say when you are doing your craft for 2000 years, you’ve perfected it!  There isn’t BAD wine…bad wine is called vinegar!      

Mom and I have had a beautiful time this far.  We toured Lisbon and experienced nightlife in Alfama- Fado, visited where St.Anthony was born and baptized in 1195, toured the Avenida de Liberdad which is stunning and pays homage to Prime Minister Pombal.  We saw the maritime area which houses Cristo Rei which is a copy of the huge internationally known famous statue of Jesus in Rio De JaneiroCristo Redentor Rio de Janeiro me Grande Plano (Christ the Redeemer) Brazil. We toured Torre de Belém (torre de belémJeronimos Monastery.  Lovely!  Amazing-breathtaking.  Buildings that have been here since the 11th and 12 th centuries-still standing, being used daily by thousands of people.  Unbelievable.  We visited Alocobaça and toured their monastery where there was also a beautiful art installation by Cristina Rodrigues.  So vast! 

These are the things we did, but meanwhile we were eating and drinking our way through Portugal!  I had grilled squid for lunch- the big meal of the day here.  Yum! ❤️  Seafood is a must in this port town.  I had a famous dish here called Bacalhou , which is delicious.  It’s easy to eat here if you have allergies.  Foods are mostly prepared in locally made olive oil not butter.  Bread, olives, and local cheeses are  almost always brought to your table.  Such an amazing gastronomic experience. 

We arrived in Fatima, Portugal and immediately we were entranced by this special magical town.  This town almost completely exists on the map because an angel appeared 3 times to three shepherd children in the field and told them to prepare for the coming of the Virgin.  They told their parents- they believed them,and on May 13, 1917 the Virgin appeared to them.  She appeared to them again on the 13th of June, July, September, and October.  This town is like Disney for people of faith.  We had the beautiful fortune of meeting the niece Maria de Los Angeles ( Maria of the Angels) of Lucia, one of the three children whom the virgin appeared to.  She is in her 90’s and takes visitors.  I’ll post a picture later as I can’t seem to squire that much wifi and bandwidth!  I think this was my mom’s favorite experience to date here in Portugal.  We attended a mass, rosary, and candlelight procession.  I’ve never been part of something so big -if you know what I mean.  It was powerful.  Thousands of people, from everywhere praying in their native tongues.  The mass and rosary was said in 5+ languages.  Awe inspiring.  All there to pay homage to God and our Lady of Fatima.  We went to this mass on two separate nights and on the second night, all branches of the military were represented and participated in the service.    Beautiful.    
My mom has done well mostly.  She is having a wonderful and blessed time.  She has had rough nights and tough starts at times in the morning.  She is experiencing confusion, pretty significant confusion.  This has been very difficult to watch, experience, and to be such a significant part of.  I feel very grateful to be doing this with my mom at this time in our lives.  She is keeping up physically which is major here!  And she is happy.  Our new friends on this tour have taken “Mamma Maria” under wing and go out of their way to assist her.  It’s been lovely.  We are arriving in Braga, so I’ll stop for now.  

Blessings my friends.

June 16, 2015

We are here!  Lisbon, Portugal! ❤️. It is beautiful here, but as we just got here we have not yet explored.  We got in at around 4:20 pm (5 hours difference I believe…maybe six)lots of airline travel.  

All went pretty well, mom was confused pretty regularly, I think this isn’t just our trip that jumbled up memory, I think this is our new norm.  She is though having a BLAST!  She talked all through the night( while I tried to sleep).  I’m learning she doesn’t need near as much sleep as me!😳. She is giddy though, and that couldn’t be sweeter!  We are at Hotel Roma in downtown Lisbon.  All is clean and tidy, but modest.  It’s gorgeous outside. Maybe 80 degrees, sunny and breezy.  The people here seem to be very kind so far.  We meet in the lobby at 6:30 to connect with our tour group.  Chat more later 


June 15, 2015

Here we are!  We are sitting at gate #84 and we start boarding at 7:25.  We have had an interesting day trying to pack for ME as I packed mom yesterday.  I kept back 20 lbs. of clothes that she overpacked. ❤️.  I have packed us fairly lightly – a backpack each,  and a pillow blanket roll held together by a yoga mat strap!  My backpack turned into a handheld overnighter as I have ALL the medicine etc.  we are Psyched!  I keep hearing…”I used to take you to travel like this, and now you are taking me!”  It’s my turn.  Grateful I can.  Blessed! 


Faith Based Journey – one day away!

Well, I picked up my mom Friday from her home in Ft. Myers.  It was a long day! I was in my car approximately 10 hours that day, as it rained in various areas, there was tons of road construction, and there were so many accidents!  The Bonus though is that I picked up my mom, helped her pack for our trip, collected all her necessary items and medications…and then we were off!  We are now in Deland, and we are getting ready to leave tomorrow.  We went yesterday to get her ready to go with a Mani/Pedi, and a few smelly items from Bath and Body Works.  We grabbed lattes and magazines at Barnes and Noble, and hung out with my girls.  It was a great day!  Today, we are doing final laundry, packing, enjoying time with family, and doing all our last minute preparations for tomorrows journey.  I feel blessed. I am super grateful that I have a wonderful and self-sufficient family that is able to part with their Momma and wife for the next 12 days.  While I am gone, my amazing husband Mark, will be getting our son Baylor to RYLA(a Rotary Youth Leadership Conference) in Jacksonville, Fl. for a week, getting my 10 year old Maya to and from Gymnastics 3 times a week, and getting my 13 year old Grace to and from volleyball conditioning daily for two hour segments, not including the meal making, the friend get togethers, the managing of our 5 (yes 5) animals 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 hamster.  He is amazing for facilitating this trip for my mom and myself.  It takes a wonderful and strong man to sort of “allow” (forgive the term)something like this to organically exist, and grow into what it has become.  This trip is the trip of a life time for my mom and myself, and I am glad we get to do it now, while we are both in well enough health, and mental clarity.  This is a dream come true for us both.  I wish that every child has the opportunity to do something of this nature with their parent.  What a blessing.