J: E and I managed to escape the cold of Cleveland for a few days along with some girl friends. We headed down to Naples and enjoyed the good life, hanging at the Ritz and seeing how the other half lives. Girls' trips are always fun, and this one did not disappoint. And they are almost always a herculean effort to pull off, which this one was too. In total, we left 18 children behind. And of course we left Sweet T and GRB. One of our girl friends buried her mother in law just three days before we left. Another friend was lucky enough to have her parents visit us in Florida- a true miracle as less than a year ago she thought her mother was on her way to meet her maker. And the final gal on this trip left her dad in the care of her siblings while she traveled. So all of that, on top of the 18 kids - how did we do it?
We did it because it keeps us sane. Our friendships have endured over the years because they are our bedrock. Through good times and bad, we can call each other and with just a few words we can convey exactly what is going on. Girls get it - we know what it is like to balance kids, and parents, and work, and husbands. It's a true art. We aren't looking for sympathy or solutions - just someone to listen to us, (and maybe have a glass of wine with us!)
We met a lovely lady while floating in the pool. She was 20 years our senior and she, too, had taken care of her mother who had AD for over 10 years. Her advice to us was "don't lose yourselves through the process." She impressed on us the need to keep our friends, our hobbies our outside interests, as much as possible. Because someday our caretaking will end. Someday we won't worry about Sweet T and GRB anymore. Someday we won't worry if the kids survived another night of partying. I'm sure we will find new things to worry about, but if we work to keep our friends, we will still have them to call to share our worries (and that glass of wine).
So thanks, ladies for making the time for our wonderful trip. Life at the Ritz is rough, but someone's got to do it. Until next year . . .