In July, 2019, I walked away from my mom and all of the drama of her addiction. I had finally hit the proverbial wall and said out loud, as I stood atop a mountain in Estes Park, Colorado, on a trip to visit my oldest son, “I’m done.” Done with my role in our tumultuous co-dependent relationship, me being the cleaner-upper of messes, the “good girl”, the savior who would swoop in to save the day. Over and over and over.
A very long 2+ months later, my phone would ring and, this time, for whatever reason, I felt compelled to answer. A sober, happy, different-sounding mom was on the other end. As a result, our relationship shifted, as she had done the work she needed to do in order to begin her healing and embrace sobriety.
That’s a blog piece for another day, however. Today, I want to share the joy of a week spent with my treasured friend, my hero, my inspiration . . . my mom!
This 85-year-old hopped on a flight and visited us for the first time since we moved to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in June 2020. She had fretted the trip, letting anticipatory anxiety get the better of her. So much so she ended up in the hospital, due to constipation, and in her words, “the worst pain I’ve ever experienced”, just days before her scheduled flight. However, she battled through and was determined to face her insecurities about travelling and boarded that southbound jet.
And we had the time of our lives together! She has told me at least ten times since returning home only five days ago, “I cannot thank you enough for such an enjoyable time. It was heaven on earth.”
Because a picture says a thousand words and my inner-photographer tried to capture as many memories as possible, here is our momma/daughter island adventures tale, as told by my Facebook posts and smiles:
Day 1: She’s here! She’s here! My mom was nervous about traveling, but she loved it. Great flight and everyone was so kind and helpful. She sat next to a lady who lives on the island and my mom offered her a ride home via us. Lol! What a neat lady and now a new friend for all of us. Dropped her at her place in Shipyard and she invited us to dinner at her place this week. Only my mom makes a friend who lives on island during a 90 minute flight. She’s awesome! She’s sitting here telling me dirty jokes
Our first outing for this mom vacation trip . . . mass! For those of you who know her, this is not a surprise. Lol!
Picked M up from work after mass and we took GJ to see the sunset at Dolphin Head before heading home for a fabulous dinner Steaks on the grill, loaded baked potatoes, and roasted carrots, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. Mom was in foodie heaven.
Day 2: Mom slept until noon! Then spent the next hour reading her prayer book in the sun. Snuggled with her new best friend, Max. We watched NFL Red Zone and cheered on her favorite team, the Bengals. Then met our fabulous friends at Hickory Tavern for the Browns game. Mom chowed on spicy wings and told more dirty jokes Now we’re watching Pittsburgh and she’s happy to share the couch with Sammie. These dogs love her!
Day 3: This morning we hit a big sale at Belk where she picked out her birthday presents (it’s not until December but we decided we couldn’t pass up the sale). Then we ran to the Salty Dog for a sweatshirt and a bright yellow rain hat for her (pic to come). On to 2 grocery stores for her favorite drinks. And she asked to see the ocean so I took her to Islanders Beach. It’s quite a hike from the parking lot to the shore across a long pier but she did awesome. She thought the ocean breeze would blow her away though Perfect day on HHI at 72 degrees, breezy and blue skies
This one needed a post all on its own She wanted a yellow rain hat to match her yellow rain coat. Shopping at the Salty Dog and she mentioned it in line so I turned around and there it was on the shelf behind me! She is beyond adorable. I promised her we could sit outside in the sun and pray the rosary together. One happy momma. I’m treasuring every moment with her. But at the rate she’s going, she’ll outlive me!
Day 4: She’s sleeping in the sun in Maddie’s Salty Dog hoodie, holding her prayer book. She said “Don’t disturb me the rest of the day. This is wonderful.” So cute! She has said, “This is heaven on earth here” about 25 times I’m so so happy to have her here.
My mom and the crazy boy are now BFFs. She’s in love with Max and he won’t leave her alone Look how he’s sitting on her lap!
I asked her what she wanted to watch tonight and she said “I’d love to watch Snow White”. So here we sit as she sings along to all the songs and tells the evil queen how horrible she is. This movie came out when my mom was 2 years old! Makes my heart happy to hear her giggling like a little kid as she watches
Mad and I took GJ shopping then for some evening sun at Dolphin Head. I told her she looks like Emperor Palpatine with the hood pulled up on Maddie’s hoodie. Lol!
Day 5: A morning GJ story (everyone who knows her calls her GJ for grandma Joann):
Jen and I made her coffee for her with her favorite Starbucks white chocolate mocha creamer and put it in a lighter cup as the big cup we had given her was too heavy. She read it out loud and asked, “Who is Karma?” Lol! So I explained, “Mom, Karma is the philosophy that whatever energy you put out into the world is the energy that comes back to you.” She thought about it then said, “Well, I think I have good karma”. Yes you do, Mom. Yes, you do
Photo is GJ explaining to the dogs why she’s not allowed to give them her pumpkin pie because “TT is mean and won’t let you eat pie”
My mom asked to play putt-putt then proceeded to impress us all! She beat me! Sinking putts like crazy! Hoping I’m rockin’ life like her at 85
Today we took another huge step along the healing path. The Superior Environmental team spent 8 hours cleaning our ducts, installing new HEPA filters on both HVAC units, properly sealing all vents after repainting them, and spraying mold inhibitor chemicals in all duct work along with properly elevating the attic ducts. Two of the team members told me “it was really bad in there” and “this is going to help you so much”. My mom and I stayed outside in the backyard with the dogs and the crab most of the day while the work was completed. I took her for a little walking tour of our Spring Lake recreation area, too. She said, “I think this must be what heaven is like”
Day 6: She wanted to visit Harbor Town and the lighthouse. Mom/daughter Sea Pines tourist time. Took her to the Salty Dog and Shelter Cove for sunset, too. I love it that she’s wearing my hoodie. She fell even more in love with this island this evening
She said, “I play Hearts on my computer every day.” I got you covered, girl! She’s set up on my laptop and one happy camper.
Snapchat is her new favorite thing! She made these videos for her great grandson, the adorable Landon Then she asked me to share them on Facebook so she can show her friends. If she ever figures out how to use Facebook
Day 8: Safe travels back to Cincy, my beautiful momma I love you so very much and will miss our island adventures together. Wow am I glad I looked at my emails at midnight to see your 5:41 PM flight was cancelled and we were able to get you on this early flight Sending you off with love and hugs
I love you, Mom. And I am so incredibly proud of you. Thank you for travelling this healing journey with me.
Always and forever,