It was hardly a vacation at all, really. My trip to Charlotte, NC was all about family. My mother was having surgery, and three of her siblings traveled a very long way to be with her. I don’t get the chance to visit with Mom’s family very often, so I decided to book a room in the same hotel as my Aunts to ensure I would be able to spend a little more time with them. Sure, I could have picked a less expensive motel and saved myself a few bucks. But, how often do I get the opportunity to treat myself to something nice? I decided to go for it.
The perks in this hotel were amazing. It’s not very often you see real drinking glasses to quench your thirst. The fancy toiletries smelled really good, for a change. I did think the espresso machine was a bit much. Thank goodness for the various food and drink options at the hospital, or I never would have had a decent cup of Joe. Just give me quality coffee and a creamer that doesn’t put my guts in a knot.
It had been a long time since I had been in the city. I prefer the fresh air of the country, but I’m pretty comfortable in a big city. These days there are parks every few blocks to soften the concrete jungle around you. Much of what I needed was within walking distance. I love the restaurant choices and boutiques that you just don’t find elsewhere. I felt pretty safe walking in spite of the obvious presence homeless in the area. Often, though, I chose to drive to my destinations. I wasn’t sure how much walking I could get out of my 8-year-old. Most of Charlotte is nice now, but some places you just don’t feel safe stopping to take a rest. I was impressed with my son on the walk from the hospital to a nice little Tex-Mex spot, however. It was well worth the uphill trek both ways just for the hand squeezed lemonade and properly made margaritas (with the exception of the inevitable taste of city water with every beverage). Finally, I’ve found a restaurant that knows decent sour mix doesn’t come from a bottle, tub of powder, or bar gun. The food was pretty good too, and it was nice to get great customer service for a change.
I made plenty of plans to occupy our time, but we hardly did any of them. After all, my mother and her family were the reason for the trip. I was hoping for time to visit a museum or two and a visit to one of my favorite area parks. I figured I couldn’t have an 8-year-old sitting around in hospital waiting room for hours at a time without some difficulty no matter how well-behaved he normally is. Sadly, any extra time I might have had to fulfill any of my tourist wishes with my son was spent flat on my back in the hotel room. A problem with my left inner ear combined with the seemingly endless elevator trips and circles around parking decks gave me a pretty severe case of vertigo. That’s okay, though. The problem is easing and this won’t be my last trip to one of my favorite cities. We also got to see plenty of what there was to see and managed to enjoy ourselves in spite of the nature of our visit. Time spent with family was absolutely priceless. I hadn’t spent any time with my uncle in a couple of decades.
I’m still in a bit of disbelief that her treatment and surgery went so well for Mom’s pancreatic cancer. It’s hard to shake the stress and worry of the last year. By some miracle and the skills of one of the finest surgical teams in the country, things couldn’t have gone any better. Not too many people can say they survived a bout with this kind of cancer, and thankfully my mom will be one of them. The battle isn’t over officially yet, but I’m confident that if anyone can declare victory, it’s my mom. I get my fighting spirit from her and my father. Now I can have her around for a lot longer than we thought and I can continue to learn from her. Without my mom, I wouldn’t be where I am today. With that, I leave you with a quote that was outside of my mom’s hospital room and a skyline picture that I was blessed to view every evening before bedtime. Every room had a plaque with something inspirational to think about. The poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, says, “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness just to be happy.” Yes, indeed.