Relationships change, just like people change. I know that I have definitely changed as it has been over 35 years since I left the south.
As much as I had been dreading the trip here, it was long but uneventful. We flew from Cape Town to Doha, had a 8 hour layover in Doha and then took a second flight from Doha into Atlanta. It was about 33 hours of travel in total. My cousin Brent was kind enough to accompany Mom on the drive from North Georgia to Atlanta airport to pick us up as Mom was ill.
Mom’s new home is so lovely.
She has such beautiful decorations for Christmas.
Her tree is so pretty too.
Mom’s cat Irie is a very spoiled demanding kitty.
It was so nice to wake up at my Mom’s house on Christmas. She has been so generous with both Norm and I.
She gave me a lovely black wool cardigan and two new pairs of boots.
Norm got a couple of lovely new tops and a puffer vest.
(Excuse his ‘just got out of bed’ hair.)
The kids and I gave Mom a lovely aquamarine bracelet.
Christmas Day was spent at my Uncle Joe’s home in a suburb of Chattanooga.
It’s on a large plot which is right on the Tennessee River.
Joe’s son Brent, his lovely wife Kelly and his cute and funny daughters were there for lunch as well as my uncle Harley. Several of my cousins and other family members popped in.
My cousin Mona and I grew up together and call each other sister. It was so special to see her.
Norm and I had a lovely day.
One afternoon Norm and I went for a walk around Mom’s new estate. There is a pond behind her house.
There is a little clubhouse that residents can use.
It was brisk with cold and on our way home we got caught in the rain.
One thing about returning to your childhood home is that you want to experience the foods you cannot get wherever you live. One of those on my list was good old southern BBQ. We went to Bailey’s BBQ which is a large metal shed type structure which you wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t looking for it. But the food was delicious.
Mom and I both enjoyed our food.
My uncle Joe joined us.
One night we went to the Home Plate Grill which is a small diner in the centre of Ringgold. I ordered the Shrimp Plate which comes with hush puppies and 3 sides. I chose fries, fried okra and pinto beans.
After dinner that evening Mom and I dropped Norm off at the house and went to Chattanooga to the mall. There are loads of sales on and Mom bought me 3 beautiful bras.
I usually buy my bras from the grocery store and guess at the size, so Mom is trying to class me up a bit. She had them measure me and I had to try on several designs to find the perfect fit. Living in Africa has lowered my standards as decent bras are incredibly expensive there. I’m so happy with my fancy new bras.
When we left the bra shop it was bucketing rain and Mom and I got soaked going to the next shop.
Mom also bought me some plain black trousers for work. She has given me a stack of her clothes which are like new. Luckily my suitcase was mostly empty on the way over here.
Mom hasn’t been feeling well so I have been cooking breakfast and tidying up around the house. At first I had fallen into a pattern of waking at 4:30am and then being unable to go back to sleep. I forced myself to lie in bed until 5 and then I would move to the couch so as to not disturb Norm. As the week has gone on I have managed to sleep a bit later each day and this morning slept til 7am.
I sit quietly on my phone playing games and Facebooking until everyone else wakes up around 8 or so then I make a proper southern breakfast of eggs and sausage, country ham or bacon. Mom has to make the biscuits if we have them as that is beyond my skill set. Mostly I just made toast or English muffins.
I have been trying to keep things tidy whereas normally I would have just taken for granted that Mom would look after us all. This trip I see how my Mom has slowed down, I see how frail she sometimes seems and I want to look after her. At what point does the caregiver become the one who needs care given? I wish I lived closer to her.
On Friday we were supposed to go on a road trip across the mountain but the weather was abysmal as it was pouring with rain and several areas ended up flooded. We decided to have a lazy pajama day and we stayed home and relaxed. That night we went searching for a Mexican restaurant and chose Tres Amigos near my Mom’s house.
I ordered a combo plate with a taco, tostado and an enchilada.
It was yummy. I really miss proper Mexican food. The fact that you get complimentary chips and salsa is fabulous and the idea of refillable drinks is also unheard of in SA.
Mom was kind enough to allow me to have some of my old school friends around for a visit. I did a post on Facebook and tagged lots of people whom I would be happy to see and asked those who wanted to come to send a private message for the address. That way we did not compromise Mom’s security or privacy and it also meant that we had an idea of numbers for catering. We preordered a tray of sandwiches and a fruit and cheese platter from Publix and we got up early to tidy up the house and collect the food.
People arrived from 2pm. Karen is one of my oldest friends as she has been my friend since we were 5 years old. She has been married to Mike since we left high school and they still seem to be the perfect couple. Next my lovely friend Jackie arrived and then my friend Larry.
Last to arrive was my cousin Mona and her daughter Stephanie.
It was a perfect sized group for my Mom’s house.
It was so nice to see my friends and to catch up with news of other classmates. Larry brought his old annuals for us to revisit.
Some had replied to say they had other plans or were no longer living in the area. Several other people had RSVP’d that they intended to come but then cancelled due to illness.
Many people never bothered to even acknowledge my invite however. Several people whom I had sent personal messages to didn’t respond to those either. Today I rationalized that as I literally flew halfway around the world and hadn’t been home in 11 years if people are so rude as to not even respond then they are not my friend and so I culled them from Facebook and unfollowed them on Instagram. Why pretend to be friends? I’ll most likely never see them again and why allow them to be a voyeur into my life. The people I find the funniest are the men who are quite often alllll up in my inbox but did not bother to respond publicly. What are they hiding or who are they hiding from? They are all married but I tell my husband who messages me, but they are obviously being shady. I should call them out on their bullshit.
So many people around this area seem to be ill and after everyone left I also started to feel a bit achy and my throat started hurting. I went to bed early with a hope that it would go by morning but I’ve woken today feeling dreadful. Mom and Norm went to the chemist to get meds and I’m dosing up on immune boosters, vitamin C and flu meds.
We were supposed to go for lunch with my cousin Warren today but I felt too bad so we stayed home and Mom cooked dinner for us. Norm has had a bit of cabin fever I think.
Warren and his wife Anita popped around to see me tonight so at least I got to see him. He was drinking and he behaved a bit childishly and annoyed Mom and they had a row and he stomped off dramatically. The joys of the dysfunction of family.
Tomorrow we are supposed to be going to our friend Joy to spend the night and she has organized a NYE party for us so I am really hoping I feel better.
The same thing happened a few years ago when we went away for Christmas to the UK, I went down with a bug on NYE and was laid up for several days of our holiday. Obviously new bugs find me when I travel.
I’m at that point of my holiday where I start to panic that I am running out of time to do all of the things we want to do. I’ve still not bought the kids their gifts, we will do a belated Christmas when I get back to SA.
I want to go to downtown Chattanooga to see the city as I’ve heard that it has been transformed into a vibey metropolis with art galleries and restaurants. When I was a kid it was dangerous and run down so I look forward to seeing it rejuvenated. We went for a drive through the small town of Rossville where I grew up but it is so rundown and derelict. Every corner seems to be a pawn shop or second hand car lot. It made me rather sad. The little town my Mom has settled in is very sweet, it still has that charming country town feel.
I am glad Mom has settled here. She is in a lovely estate with family and old friends nearby.
It’s perfect and I’m so happy to see her happy.
I hope you all enjoy your New Year.
Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo