Friday, June 20, 2014

Planning a vacation

I'm trying to plan my time off for the rest of the year. 

It occurred to me recently that I really do have somewhat of a talent for my job in that I love to plan ahead.  I still hate math and spreadsheets and sitting under fluorescent lights for 8+ hours a day, but there are aspects that come somewhat naturally to me.  I like planning ahead and being organized.  I like it when I can help the agents in the call center with their scheduling problems and conflicts.  I like helping other departments with forecasting their call volume and scheduling their agents. I am getting much better at training the supervisors and team leads on using the workforce management computer programs, and leading meetings with a bunch of people around a conference room table, and it's possible that one day I won't dread having to stand in front of the new hire classes and talk about workforce expectations and answer questions.

Anyway, I want to go visit Mom two more times between now and Christmas, and I want to take a little vacation with my sweetie to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary the first week of October.  We just went on a vacation to Cleveland to celebrate Greg's 40th birthday in April at the Cinema Wasteland convention, which means two things: One, he's super grateful because, even though I had a great time, he feels like it was his vacation and I think he kinda feels like he owes me one now.  Two, we spent a lot of money (relative to not going on vacation, anyway) and I think we both kinda feel like we shouldn't spend much again so soon.

There are new cheap flights between the Orlando area and Roanoke, which means we could go back to my "home" (it will always seem like home, but since I haven't lived there since 1988 I'll go ahead and add grammatically incorrect quote marks).  I feel guilty that I'm reluctant.  I should go back now while my 100-year old aunt is still around, I should go visit all those relatives I haven't seen in decades, I should go while my Mom is still around for me to tell about where I go and who I see.

That thought really stabs at me.  She would love to hear about me visiting "home", just LOVE it.  I could bring back pictures and stories of people who haven't been so good at staying in touch. Not to mention visiting my father's grave. And this would be a lovely time of year to visit southwestern Virginia, the Appalachian mountains. Not too cold but a little nippy, possibly leaves turning brilliant red and yellow.

It just doesn't seem fun, though, it seems like an obligation, which makes me feel guilty.  I wish I wanted to do this, I feel like I ought to do it, and honestly I feel like I ought to want to do it.

It's also an expensive option.  Even with the cheaper flights it's still a car rental plus gas plus hotel for 3 or 4 nights plus meals. I may be able to get good discount hotel rates through my company, but still.

Or... we could go to Universal and go to the new Wizarding World expansion.  Oh man, it looks SO fun.  We could stay onsite for two nights in the brand new super cute lower-priced Cabana Bay resort and get a Florida Resident discount; staying onsite would get us into the parks an hour before they open to the non-staying-onsite general public.  We could do the new Hogwarts Express train ride between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, and the Gringott's ride.  It would be less expensive than going to Virginia, even factoring in meals and buying a reasonable amount (!) of Harry Potter crap.

Or we could just say home and spend a bit of money and time on fixing up our house, which has an ever-increasing list of things that need to be repaired or replaced or just fancied up.  That idea has a lot of appeal and would, in many ways, seem to be the most mature and adult option.  Plus a nice staycation would be relaxing.

What would I regret later?  How badly would it hurt me if my mother passed away before I went back to Virginia?  How guilty would I feel if I chose a children's book and an amusement park over an opportunity to delight my mother?

The thought of going back "home" after my mother isn't here to tell about it is just heartbreaking.  There is no one, no one, who shares my memories from my childhood.  I grew up without siblings in the house, and my father is gone, my aunt who lived next door is gone.  I have a few cousins who remember their own slice of childhood that sometimes overlapped with my own, but no one who knows it all like my own sweet Mom.  The neighbors next door who had an outhouse and raised bees, the way the snow drifted in the hilly backyard, the taste of the Silver Queen corn that Dad grew in the garden, the constant breeze from living in between two mountains. 

It's also worth considering that the Wizarding World is going to be crowded; the first week of October is not peak and kids are not out of school, but the new expansion will pack in tourists anyway.  If we waited to go in January we'd have nice (?) cool weather and the smallest crowds of the whole year.

I am sure of one thing, if I hesitate too long to book a Universal trip for October, it'll be too late.  All the media coverage of the Wizarding World will ensure sold-out onsite hotels very quickly.

I suppose I'm lucky, really.  Trying to make a decision between nothing but nice vacation options is a pretty good thing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mom's Heart

I went to GA and visited Mom over Memorial Day weekend, and it was, as usual, a very good visit.  Any time I get to hang out with Mom and look at old photos and get Mom hugs is always very good.

Mom had a health scare a couple of days before I went.  She was on her way to the dining room and felt sick so she stopped in the hallway and sat on her walker seat.  A nurse saw her and brought her back to her apartment, where she lost consciousness for a couple of minutes.  I spoke to a nurse during my visit who used the word "unresponsive" when describing what happened, and that is a terrifying word.  They think it may have been Mom's heart, but Mom doesn't want to go to the hospital for tests, and honestly I don't think I can blame her.  Since then she's felt fine, and she seemed normal to me while I was there.

She was a little reluctant to leave to go out to a restaurant for lunch, so we didn't.  I didn't want to push her, but she never goes out to eat, and I feel like maybe it's good for her to, even if it's only rarely.  She does go out twice a month to have her hair washed and set, but she gets too tired to combine that outing with lunch.

My Mom is so sweet.  I know which of the retirement home employees are good and which ones are, shall I say, less good, by the way they are with Mom.  The ones who have made an effort to speak to her, which can be difficult because of her hearing problems, just love her.  Your mother is the sweetest person, they tell me, the receptionist and the activities director and the manager.  One of the cooks has a whole thing where she and Mom blow kisses to each other.  One of the nurses gives Mom little crosses to carry with her and hugs Mom every day in the dining room, telling her how blessed she is. Mom grasps her hands and looks into her eyes and tells her that she is blessed, too.

The majority of them are like that, and they know Mom's likes and dislikes, and they are clearly fond of her and try to make her happy.  They check on her at random times in her apartment and watch to make sure she eats enough.  (I'm not sure they know that when Mom doesn't like what's for dinner or lunch she'll come back to her apartment and eat an apple, or a sliced up banana with peanut butter on it, or an ice cream sandwich.  My sister keeps her stocked.)

There are a few that seem competent but also seem young and inexperienced, and probably also low-paid, and definitely have less patience for trying to get to know someone who can barely understand them when they speak.  They are okay, just not going out of their way to be nice, and of course since it's my own dear mother I want to smack everyone who doesn't love her. 

It's hard to watch people who are essentially strangers take care of my mother, who is so vulnerable.  I try to look at her sweetness and kind nature as her superpower that does seem to come through (for anyone paying attention) despite her physical weaknesses.  Any retirement home employee would have to be a truly evil person to be mean to her.