These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

to texas and back

it's been two days since we returned from our christmas trip to texas. we left dec. 22 and returned the 29.

so many things happened that i thought i'd break up the trip into a series of blogs. this way, i could spend more time on topics instead of highlighting the whole trip.

so here's the synopsis.

it was tough planning what to wear because of temp. difference. though, with the temps being mild in mich., i guess it ended up not making much of a difference in the end anyway.

packed and ready, we zipped over to o'hare, not knowing what to expect, especially with the snows in denver and as we found out, fog delays early on that friday.

our flight, leaving at 3:45, was delayed several times. ultimately, we left at 5:30. we were panicked because our connecting flight in dallas to san antonio was 7::45. our cushion of time disapeared. as luck would have it, that flight was first delayed to 8:40 and finally until after 9. we left for S.A. at 9:30 and my dad and maricella were there to pick us up. we arrived at the ranch at 2 a.m.

mom was still up waitng and we got hugs. my aunt, who lives next door, waited as much as she could before leaving.

the next day brought hugs from my growing niece and nephew, rena and ricky. he's getting sassier and more charming and she's getting prettier and bigger. then it was off to see emma grace. my youngest niece was sick and not herself. she wouldn't be her normal self until a few days before we left. however, she's so beautiful, bright-eyed and all over the place. quite a difference from the wrinkled, frog-legged, bend-earred newborn we saw in april.

dad looks good.he's thin and his hair is white and gray and also thinning. a lot of it is the chemo at work. he also had cuts on his fingers that prevented him from grasping many things, also a by-product of the chemp. however, he's going back for surgery in houston on jan. 25. he will have the same procedure and operation done to him that failed in sept. the docs are optimistic that they can remove 80 percnt of his liver this time. fingers crossed.

we went shopping, got a few items and some popeye's (yummy). it was a yucky saturday, raining and cool.

that night i we went to a small gathering of class of '89 classmates in san diego. it was a nice experience and we had such a great time. joey e. was down for christmas. it was an unexpected surprise, since i hadn't seen him since before we left texas more than three years ago.

christmas eve we went to church. yes, we were there. my brother joked that he was surprised the building didn't fall down on us. i hadn't been in a church in years. i think was mom was happy we went. although, she didn't go because she stayed home with dad. at church i got to see father epi, the older briest who's been around for decades. it was good to see him conduct the mass.

christmas day was wild. i got to see cousins and their children, people i hadn't seen in years. there were children running around everywhere. it felt good to be around them. it was a feeling i hadn't had, ever, i think. as i get older, children become more endearing to me. perhaps it's time to...i dunno.

we had tamales, brisket (shout out to dan!!), turkey (sorry no duck, dan), potato salad, corn bread and tons of sweets. we played a game called chalupa, which is similar to bingo, except in stead of numbers you have pictures on a card. same rules, though. i won three small candles. we played white elephant. i ended up taking my grandmother's gift away. it was reese's cups and she can't eat sweets.

my sister linda had a hard time during those early days of the trip. she'd had her wisdom teeth removed on friday and her cheeks were swollen and she was unable to eat solids.

we spent the next few days visiting my grandparents, my uncle eli, who had a stroke several years ago and is in a nursing home, friends rose and simon and just hanging out at home.

while in corpus christi, though, we stopped by whataburger for a burger with bacon and cheese. it was damn good. i know mark that you'll be salavating at this. it was good. we also had an agape breakfast taco. it was tremendous as always. they're huge.

while at agape cafe i over heard someone say, "we now root for michigan." i stopped the woman and asked if she was from mich. she said yes ann arbor. turns out she graduated two years ahead of me, went to austin to college and is now at u of m. sort of small world.

we wound up our trip with news that my brother and his family might visit during the summer. that is exciting because no one had come up here to visit since my parents did early when we moved up here. it'll be good to show them around and see him since i rarely talk to him because of his job.

after dawn played a three-hour game of monopoly with rena and ricky (who ended up quitting because he's a sore loser) and i lounged and chatted with my dad, we were off to S.A. on thursday afternoon.

we stopped by the place where dawn and i met back in april and may 2001 and then we headed off to the restaurant where we had our reception after our wedding. we got to sit in the same small reception room only feet away from where we sat during the reception. it was great. i kept pointing out where people sat during the reception.

the following morning we rushed to the airport with plenty of time only to get lost and come to realize the rental car place was not exactly at the airport terminal area. we arrived 15 minutes before the plane left. too late. we had to take a flihgt 30 minutes later. we ended up at o'hare one hour after our original flight landed.

it was a great trip, probably the best we've taken. we saw so many people and spent quality time with my family. also, considering my dad's situation, i'm glad we went. it was special.


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