Sal and I got back from Cincinnati last night, and what can I tell you?
The good news is, Mom is getting better, and is learning to adjust to life at Cottingham for the long haul. The move out of the "old homestead" is giving her a chance to be more sociable, and to join in activities. She plays bingo once a week, and joins in the arts and crafts projects. This is good for her, as taking care of Dad induced a reclusive lifestyle over the years. She is being weaned off the neck brace, and we have high hopes that she can soon be moved from the Skilled Nursing wing to Assisted Living.
Dad is another story. While he has his moments of good spirits, he tires very easily. There are days when he rallies, like yesterday morning when we stopped in to say goodbye. But most of his time is spent sleeping -- "resting my eyes," he likes to call it -- and he has lost interest in watching his favorite comedy show (CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond, now on TV Land), the evening news, just about everything. Even eating is difficult, as a weakness in his digestive system requires that he eat slowly. And even then, he gets tired.
Meanwhile, Sal and I made the most of our time there. Early on Wednesday mornings, there is a small gathering of friends at "The Main Cup," a coffee bar on Main Street in Milford. One of them is Susan, one of my old school chums from St Andrew's. We've known each other since we were five. I wanted her to meet Sal, so we went down there, as it was also my birthday. Susan is one of those vivacious, unforgettable characters who is very hard to forget. Many of us who attended St Andrew School, in particular the Class of 1969, remember our grade school classmates with as much fondness as those from high school.
Two of my classmates, and some friends of the family, are buried in the parish cemetery just south of the town. Sal and I went to visit our plot while I was there, and I even laid on the ground face up to show her how I'd end up one day. I also confirmed that the corner markers had been put in.
Naturally, we had to go shopping, and I would have been remiss not to introduce her to Kenwood Towne Center. They also had a Cheesecake Factory. Obviously we must visit Kenwood again, even if it means braving their perfectly lousy parking, including mysteriously blocked off exits.
And most important (well, at least to me), there was my birthday, a celebration of which was held at a private room at Cottingham. It's always great seeing the nephews, as well as Eva, the first (and so far, only) of the great-grandchildren. It's a shame we can't send the video from Sal's phone of the whole fam damily together just hamming it up ... isn't it?
No trip home would have been complete without stopping at the outlet mall just off I-71 in Jeffersonville, a promise I had been meaning to keep. Sal got lost (or preoccupied with her mission, depending on your point of view) for over an hour. We managed to get back before ten last night, driving through the mountains of West Virginia in the darkness.
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FOOTNOTE(S): The "octave" mentioned above, for those of you who don't follow this sort of thing (in which case, if you're Catholic, shame on you), is the eight days from Christmas through New Year's Day. The latter is known as the Feast of the Circumcision in the traditional Roman calendar, and the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God in the reformed calendar. In the Churches of the East, it is the Feast of Saint Basil the Great.