Return from the Redneck Riviera
April 22, 2008

palmOK, the Redneck Riviera was great… again. Oh, we got off to a rough start…at least a little. I had talked my sister  Jan into leaving as soon as I flew in Friday afternoon and got Mom ready …and as soon as she got off work. That way, we’d have all day Saturday and Sunday. It’s a bit of a drive from B’ham. to Gulf Shores…about 5 hours. And we can’t really just get in and drive. My 87 year old Momma HAS to have a bathroom/food break and if you get too far down the road without one, she thinks you’re not gonna stop/ “When are we stopping?”. “Haven’t we passed Montgomery?”

And we actually rate places on the way down on their bathrooms. Places you don’t want to stop with a little old lady in a wheelchair…Dairy Queen in Bay Minette, Alabama. On the other hand, the Arby’s there is quite nice. Bates House of Turkey….could use some work, though Mom loves the turkey.

Anyway we finally arrive around 10 PM…everyone is tired, my other sis Audrey is already at the condo, having enjoyed a quiet relaxing afternoon there…nice, yeah.  The first thing we discover is that Mom’s chair won’t fit through the doorway of one of the bathrooms, and in the other one the “potty bars” she uses cannot be installed. Hmmmm. This is a serious issue. The alternative will be that TWO of us will always have to be present for every trip to the bathroom. Not what we or she had in mind. Baby sister looking frantic, Mom on the verge of tears, Audie and me looking at each other like “What now….”

 Sooooooooo, necessity being the brilliant mommy of invention, a system was rigged using the regular wheelchair(Audrey had rented an electric one there to be delivered and picked up…which gives Mom much freedom-did you know they did stuff like that?) …anyway,  a system was fixed that was usable. Crisis averted. We all fall into bed exhausted, around 1 AM.

viewBut the next morning, here is the view that greeted us off the balcony. The Moorings is on the bay…can you can see all the highrise condos on the beach in the distance?  The apartment is big for two bedrooms two baths…1600 sq. feet…. West Indian decorated, big nice kitchen (except  they need more serving dishes)…all for about 100 bucks a night. And seriously the biggest, coziest sofa any of us had ever seen. Four people could nap on it, no problem. Me likee.

We cooked breakfast every morning..Audrey makes the best bread ever, that makes the best toast you’ll ever eat. I’ll try to get the recipe for the starter she uses…she’s been making it we guessed, for about 20 years. It’s fabulous with flaxseed and all kinds of good stuff…a loaf even made it home in my luggage.

Lunch at the pool usually, in perfect 80 degree weather…my first “zero entry pool”….where walking into the pool is like walking into the ocean….it just  gradually gets deeper. And loads of fountains adding lovely burbling water sounds. Sigh…so nice.

Yes we did cook shrimp and grits, with wild caught shrimp from Bon Secour, a fishing town that was originally settled by the French…means safe harbor…and the quality of the shrimp does make all the difference in the dish. And of course we talked…and talked…and talked. About our kids, our husbands, our childhoods, our lives, our worries, our problems and our joys. It was just….so good.  My Mom loved all of us being together, and she shared a dream she had about two weeks ago, that I hope she wouldn’t mind my sharing with you. But she felt it was a kind of gift or a vision, and she wanted us to know about it. In the dream, she was at a resort on the beach, with people all around. She walked into the water, and started to sing a famous old hymn, “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”. But in the dream, she had a beautiful, beautiful voice…and she knew all the words  to all four verses, though she hasn’t sung it in years. As she sang, the fish in the water swam up gathered around her and listened, and someone from behind her started singing  harmony. She turned and looked too see who it was… a choir director from her church who died some years ago. They finished the song, not missing a beat, or a word. She woke up, feeling something very spritual had been shown to her.

And she still remembered the words…and sang them right there on the balcony as we all listened….with tears in our eyes. I’ll never forget it.

I’m home now..Baby Girl looking up at me appreciatively….(“Where have you been?” ) and watching Dancing with the Stars…hey, I thought Jason Taylor danced a lot betterthan those scores.  But it was a wonderful, wonderful weekend in so many ways, and I loved hearing from some of you about the traditions you have with friends and family. It is really what life is all about, oui?

P.S. This morning I thought it’s Earth Day!! I will drive to work today in my hybrid, and shop using my reusable bag, and try not to take too long of a shower, and this evening I will dig up dandelions rather than spray them with weed killer. What are you doing for Momma Earth?