We flew nonstop out of Brisbane to DFW, thanks to Quantas Airlines' new direct service to Dallas, and spent one night at a hotel near the airport then flew on to Dulles (Washington DC) on the 15th. It is always a thrill to be back home with family, and this trip in particular was quite special. Frank's mom would be turning 90 on July 4th. We will be here to celebrate with her.
Frank spent his usual amount of time happily following Ma around like a dutiful son attacking all the chores she has saved for him which generally concern "Man's work". They are so cute together! She loves to show him off to her friends, who always find a special place for him at the breakfast table on those occasions. I do not intrude on this special time that they spend together and get my own thrill out of watching them savor one another's company.
Friday, June 24th - We drove with Tom and Mary in a caravan of vehicles to Richmond Virginia, where Clint attends the university, in order to help him move out of his apartment. It was good hard work! He lived at the top of a 3-story walkup. Frank and I are not exactly in top form, which manifested in very sore, stiff bodies afterward. After we had emptied Clint's place we all went to lunch at a local diner that had fabulous burgers and milkshakes. Frank and I ate ourselves into near oblivion before we bid farewell to Clint, Tom, Mary and Clint's friend Alex. They returned to Vienna and we carried on into Pinehurst, NC to spend a weekend with Theyl and John Turner (Theyl and Frank are both former State Farm Ins. colleagues).
Pinehurst and the small towns around this area are set in a lovely, story-book setting. Pristine. There are probably more golf courses per capita here than anywhere else in the USA. Theyl had given us directions to the townhouse where we would stay the two nights while there. Gee whiz, it was 5-star beautiful! It turned out that we were actually staying in one of the homes of another couple of our friends who were away traveling. Theyl, being the ever-perfect hostess, had laid out a welcome basket of goodies fit for royalty. We snacked, unpacked and then phoned her to get the schedule for our visit. Because it was fairly late when we'd arrived, Frank and I supped at a local hang-out on the main road. Gosh it was loud and crowded - absolutely filled to the brim with golfers (go figure). The next day we went for a tour of the area with the Turners, ending with a dine-around Pinehurst; eating little bites at 4 or 5 restaurants within walking distance in the main square. Frank was to have played golf with John, and as much as he hated the idea of coming all this way not to play, his shoulder was giving him problems. The weekend was lovely, and we left with promises to stay longer next time. We had a very long day of driving ahead of us back to Vienna, VA on Sunday, so we left just after breakfast.
Before we knew it, it was time to begin preparations for Ma's BIG ONE. Frank's daughter, Karen and I went to the party store to shop for decorations and party accoutrements. We had a blast blowing up balloons, adorning and decorating the party room with the clever collaboration of Clint, whose talents in art and creativity far surpass our own. Ma had wanted to keep it to just family which included 8 of her 11 grandchildren (Bill, Sarah and Jen couldn't make the trip), 4 of her 6 great-grandchildren, her two children (Frank and Mary), her two sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, 5 spouses/significant others of the grandchildren and two of those spouse's parents. The total of attendees (just family) was 25. What a beautiful testimonial to familial love and fellowship. We held the party on the Saturday afternoon of July 3rd so that her celebration would not be overshadowed by the July 4th festivities. We had so much good food that we could have fed a small country. It was indeed a fantastic 90th birthday party, and one that we felt extremely blessed not to have missed!
On Sunday, July 4th, we all gathered at Jeff and Erin's home for their annual Independence Day block party - a massive blow out that ended with a spectacular fireworks show from the adjacent Lansdowne Resort. Ma got to celebrate her 90th Birthday once again and in grand style.
Our visit ended all too soon and on July 6th, Tom and Mary hauled us off to the airport for our flight to Denver.