Last week, my father came down from South Carolina on a semi-business trip, and we met up to go visit his 88-year-old cousin Arlene and her husband Kenny in Central Florida. I had visited them when I first got to the University of Miami 22 years ago, and maybe a handful of times since, but other than that it's been almost two decades since I've seen these fine folks.
First, though, since Sophia was turning 11 this week, Jack turned 13 last month, and my dad still had Christmas presents for Chloë and the younger two... we stopped at his hotel for present-opening time. The kids received books, games, crafts, and models. Fun stuffs!
We also met Nancy, my dad's current flame. She was lovely, and I enjoyed getting to know her.
After the quickie reunion with my dad and meet-and-greet with Nancy, Dad followed us up to the cousins' house in Lake Worth. They had a beautiful home, which they had built, on the water. Here's Sophie admiring the view.
One of the first things we noticed when we entered the house were the beautiful stained glass windows surrounding the circular main room. They were designed by Kenny and made by an artist who normally only works with churches.
Everywhere we looked, there was something to see. Jack was particularly active in finding lots of hidden treasures.
He was taken with the tall grandfather clock tucked away in one side of the room.
Sophie wanted to know more about the player piano near the clock. I hadn't seen one in many years!
Kenny, a very obliging gent, set right to work getting a song ready to play for us.
We were intrigued to find that there were quite a variety of songs from which to choose, especially when Kenny informed us that even current songs were available for the piano.
There were cozy bedrooms set up down the hall beyond where Chloë was standing, there. I didn't feel well that day (indeed, I haven't for almost a year), so Arlene insisted I lie down and take a nap in one big, comfy bed.
Also down that hall was Arlene's office, where she had dozens upon dozens of old dolls in display cases that made me wonder if they were as expensive as the dolls themselves!
Arlene had obviously been collecting the dolls for many years.
Sophia's favorite was the one in white, in a wedding dress.
When Jack found an old Vitamaster exercise bike, I was surprised when Kenny accommodated the kids yet again and let him ride it!
After that, the bike was the source of endless amusement for the kiddos.
Everywhere we looked, there was something interesting to see - even the ceiling was eye-candy!
Plenty of colorful knickknacks adorned the shelves, tables, and pretty much everywhere in the home. I couldn't believe nothing was dusty!
The crystal fish naturally grabbed my attention.
A special case was dedicated to figures depicting the life of Jesus Christ.
My dad's cousins' kitchen was filled with countless blue glass vases and bottles. I used to collect green glass, so this was a delight of mine to see.
Dad enjoyed himself showing old pictures of his parents and their mutual relatives and acquaintances to Kenny and Arlene.
The kids started getting restless indoors after a while, so I asked if I could take them outside and stroll around the property. I knew we would find plenty to occupy their time and imaginations outside, too.
It cracked me up when Jack decided to take a roll down the "hill" that wasn't - I'm positive it wasn't more than a 15º incline!
Sophie didn't care; she found even flatter ground!
The kids couldn't find rhyme nor reason for these little houses, which they were positive held something interesting. Maybe they did, but we didn't figure out what!
Jack wished he could go out on Kenny's boat, but it wasn't in good repair then. No matter; the dock still held his attention for a moment.
This girl... ♥
Meanwhile inside, the elders were wrapping up their reminiscing, and it was time to go. We thanked Kenny and Arlene for the lunch they had graciously provided and the beautiful day, and everyone hugged good-bye. I had thought the whole time that they both remembered me from when I had visited them during my UM years, but as I was hugging Arlene and saying I hoped to visit them again with the kids soon, she said softly, "It was nice meeting you..." and I realized that perhaps, she did not.
This realization gave me lots of food for thought as we drove back to Miami, and in the days since.
So long for now.