... and you probably didn't even notice we were gone.
Yesterday morning we headed down the highway to my hometown, Roanoke, the "Star City of the South." It's a two hour drive and we got there early so that we could have lunch with my father and stepmother and then set off for a round of visitin' with family. It was a long over-due visit.
I am lucky that all four of my grandparents are still alive and we visited them while we were in town. My paternal grandparents have been moved into a nursing home in the past year and are in two separate rooms, being treated for various ailments. After lunch, we visited with my grandmother for a while and it was pretty fun. Pete and the girls messed around with a wheelchair, which led to me telling my husband to act his age. We did not visit with my grandfather, as he's been a behavior problem lately and we couldn't be sure how he'd be around the girls. Dopey lunacy is one thing, but violence and hallucinations are another thing altogether.
After that, we walked a couple hundred feet to the retirement condos to see my maternal grandparents, who do not believe in using their air conditioner, even though it was almost 100 fucking degrees yesterday. Air conditioning has always been an issue with them -- why pay for it when you aren't actually in flames from the heat -- but I figured that since their monthly electric bills are now only around $30, that they might actually enjoy their golden years and be cool during the summer. I figured wrong.
After that, we went to the hotel and Pete and the girls had a quick swim before we went out for dinner. The hotel? Why? My father and stepmother don't live in Roanoke anymore, but it's where my father has his cancer treatments, and it's where the rest of the extended family lives, so my parents rented rooms for them, us, and my sister and her husband for the weekend.
And that brings me to the reason for our trip down there in the first place.
[drum roll please]
We celebrated my father's birthday a few days early!
Now that may not sound exciting, but let me tell you how damn pleased we are by this turn of events. A year ago, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and here we are twelve months later celebrating not only a birthday we didn't think he'd reach, but his 60th, which is one of those lovely round numbers that people like to use as an excuse to throw a big party.
No big party last night, however. Just family eating dinner at my father's favorite restaurant, Dead Lobster. And, even though I utterly loathe that place and others of its over-cooked, over-sauced, over-salted ilk (add Crapplebee's and TGIFartday's to that list), I went in there with a smile on my face and decided to just dive in and try to enjoy the meal. Instead of attempting to find something healthy on the menu, I ordered a trough of seafood that included lobster, scallops, and shrimp...
... and regretted it later that night when I felt bloated and yucky, even though I didn't come close to eating all that food.
But the most important thing is that my father had a good time, even though he didn't feel so great. And we all had a nice time and celebrated something we didn't think we'd be able to celebrate. So it was good.
After dinner, we went back to the hotel. My sister and her husband were in the room adjoining ours, so we opened the doors and went back and forth between the rooms. We read a bit, hung out a bit, watched a little TV. And then we went down the pool to wear Graceful and Elegant out before we put them to bed.
After we turned out the lights at almost 11:00, Pete and I were loudly reminded of why we usually get a suite when we stay in hotels:
"She's touching me."
"She's hogging all the covers."
"She kicked me."
"Her pillow is fluffier than mine."
"I'm not tired."
And so it went. Until I thought Pete was going to have to threaten bodily harm, which he did not, so no need to call Child Protective Services on us people.
Eventually, Elegant succumbed to exhaustion and went to sleep, thereby depriving Graceful of a partner in crime.
We slept in until 8 this morning, had breakfast with the rest of the family, popped by my mother's house for a quick visit, and then hit the road.
We fortified ourselves for the arduous 100 mile trip with a stop by one of those convenience stores that tries to make itself all cute and quaint by going with the Ye Olde Country Store look, complete with a huge front porch and rocking chairs. All that really mattered to us was that they had this, this, and this. (The first was for Pete and the last two were for me.) The girls had their own treats too, so we all were quite happy as we rolled up the highway.
As soon as we got on the interstate, we noticed RVs. Lots of them. Seriously. They were everywhere. Packs of them. Many were towing cars behind them. Some had grills and other signs of serious tailgating attached to the back.
After a while, we started noticing that the RVs all had something in common: Stickers with numbers on them. Specifically, the racing numbers of various NASCAR drivers. They'd all been down at the ass-end of the state for some big race last night and now they were migrating to wherever it is that they're going next. It made for some humorous conversation as we headed for home.
We got here early in the afternoon, which gave us time for a delightful afternoon: The Sunday newspaper. Naps on the sofa. Catching up on email and blogs. You get the idea. No work and all play.
And now it's time to get ready for school tomorrow. Lunch boxes need to be packed. The girls need to have a weekend's worth of sugar scrubbed off their skin. And so forth.
It's good to be home.