Sunday, July 20, 2008

Home Again!

All I can say is WOW! What a trip. I cannot tell you how much I felt the prayers of all of my friends because this trip was - by far - the BEST family visit EVER!

After a three and a half hour flight delay, I finally landed at JFK at around 10:45 pm. My hope of coming off of the plane looking fresh and sassy did not work. I felt rather deflated but my family thought I looked great and could not believe how much weight I had lost. Score one for Stace. Luckily I hadn't checked any bags so we were able to leave immediately and begin the 20 minute walk to the car. Between the walk to the car and the drive to my sister's house, it was an hour later but surprisingly, I was wide awake. We got to the house, we had a little something to eat, I got the tour of their new place (which was absolutely beautiful) and my mom pulled out a box of old pictures that had us laughing in to the wee hours of the morning. I inflated my air mattress (which was a full size, not a twin) and fell in to a deep, wonderous sleep.

We woke up a little before nine on Friday and began the day with coffee (for mom) by the pool. Their yard is magnificent. It was so peaceful and it was just a nice way to start the day. My aunt from Florida was staying with us and she took me over to see my grandmother later that morning. We had such a nice visit but I could tell that grandma's health is fading fast. She spent most of my time with her just watching me. When we said our good-byes, I truly felt as if we were saying good-bye for the last time. It was a bit emotional for me.

After a hair-raising ride with an aunt (NY drivers are CRAZY), we went back to the house for a quick lunch before going for our 'spa time'. You know my feelings on the spa thing, but I went along because my sister was treating me. I had a magnificent pedicure (I think I purred at one point), a lovely manicure, and the most painful massage in the history of massages. I still hurt this morning! After our nails dried, Karen and I went to Posh (her catering business) and picked up the supplies for the party that night and then went back to the house to relax. By this point, STILL nothing bizarre or traumatic has happened and I'm a little shocked. Score two for Stace.

At seven, we began to finish getting ourselves dressed and ready and after an uncomfortable moment where I clearly walked in on my sister having a little 'romantic phone time' with her boyfriend, we began to prepare and set up all of the food. My family is like a well-oiled machine with this kind of thing. The three of us worked together as if we did it every day. The menu? 7-layer mexican dip with chips, artichoke dip with pita chips, a large antipasto platter, jumbo shrimp cocktail, beef satays, a fresh fruit platter, foccacia sticks with some sort of weird dip that I never heard of (and can't remember the name), and then something called 'Tom's Tantallizing Treats' which were these cheesy bread things that while yummy, were a heart attack on toast. I only ate one. Then there was dessert - all fresh pastries from the Bronx. It was amazing. Score three for Stace with some real NY food!

As for the family time, it was so good to see everyone! I nearly cried several times just out of pure joy! My cousin Eddie, his wife Toni and my Aunt Marianne were the first to arrive. I had not seen any of them probably since my wedding! There was so much hugging and kissing and all that goes with it, I was floating. Ten minutes later, my cousin Debbie, her husaband Sal, along with my Uncle Al and Aunt Rose arrived. Again, I had not seen them since my wedding. My aunt grabbed my face and said "Al, look at her, she still looks like our baby!" and I was lost. I love these people dearly. My best childhood memories, involve them. For the next 2 hours, we ate, drank and laughed until we cried. The only sad spot was that my cousin Bobby, Al & Rose's son, was not with us. He was murdered back in 1988 and I still felt his absence. There was a part of me that kept watching the door, waiting for him.

At about 10:30 my dad arrived. His JetBlue plane was late too! He was unaware that all of the relatives were going to be there. I greeted him at the door and he took one look at me, grabbed in a big hug and told me how beautiful I looked. Now I almost cried again! Score four for Stace. Everyone came out and all the hugging and kissing began again. We went back to the eating, the drinking and the laughing, took a ton of pictures and just had an amazing time. At 1:30 am, everyone left. During the course of the night, I got my long awaited family picture with me, Karen and my parents - 26 years it took to get that! The four of us cleaned the kitchen together and I have to admit, it was more icky than sweet to watch my parents kiss goodnight. Some things you just shouldn't have to see.

Still feeling the high of all of the laughing and good times from the night before, I got up and had breakfast with my parents. It was really, really nice. We pulled out yet another box of old photos and shared memories and it was just so....normal. That's not a word that normally goes with anything involving my family. It was just weird. I was packing and getting myself dressed and ready for lunch and realized that not once did I have to deal with my sister's boyfriend and all of THAT awkwardness. She came in to help me pack and I hugged her and thanked her for all that she had done for me to make this trip so incredibly special and for all of the sacrifices she had made for me to be there. The result?

She invited the rat to lunch.

I was pleasant, I said my hello's, I engaged in generic conversation but for the most part kept my distance. I did make one not-so-nice comment, but honestly, it just slipped out. Like, oops, for a minute I let my true-feelings show. Sorry. I said my good-byes and got the heck out of dodge. Actually, that's not completely true, before the good-byes, my dad did take us all out for a wonderful lunch on the water. We ate and laughed some more, THEN went back to the house where I had my moment and then said my good-byes. My mom and one of my aunt's drove me to the airport and I felt like I was leaving at the perfect time. Any longer, and I think everyone would have stopped being so normal and nice. Both my sister and my parents were asking me to change my flight but I held firm. It was worth the two-hour flight delay at JFK to be able to leave on a possitive note.

So I thank all of you that prayed for me this weekend. I thank my sister for getting me up there so that I could be a part of it. And I thank God for giving me my one-perfect weekend with my family.

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