Nell passed on her birthday, a few hours after I posted the Happy Birthday post. Whirlwind of a week culminated in the funeral yesterday in Navasota and burial out at WhiteHall Cemetery, on a hill overlooking a pond. The fact that I seemed to bring the cold weather with me didn't make anyone but me happy as we stood out there. To back up a bit . . . With news of Nell's death, things were suddenly put into flux. On Wednesday the decision was made to have her funeral the very next Saturday, which meant the flight back to Orlando had to be cancelled, Nick's flight to Nashville for his first professional conference had to be cancelled, and I had to work out how to move all the chess pieces to get us into Navasota. Sam and Jason drove back to Austin with Nick and Ali and all four of them got to Navasota Saturday morning together. I already had a flight into Houston late Friday after work for a week's stay, so that worked out. Bob Sr. was driving down with Melissa and Heather, but they needed flights back on Sunday to get back to work. I got Bob a flight into College Station so they could pick him up without having to drive into Houston. Then he's driving back with his Dad to Amarillo, then flying back to Denver next week. That meant I suddenly needed a dog-sitter for Evan and Amber was wonderful about taking him on short notice. I could drive Bob to the airport Friday morning, come back, work, get Evan, pack up, head for the airport again for my flight, and drop him off along the way. I'd leave the car with the parking slip and directions to it for Bob, who had to remember to take the spare key, so he could return, get the car, pick up Evan, and get back home. Steph would pick me up for my ridiculously late flight into Houston Friday, drive me to Navasota for the funeral on Saturday, where we would collect Sam, Jason, and all luggage from their three week stay, to go back to her house for Sat. night and get them to the airport Sunday morning. I had tried to arrange a rental but was unable to pick one up that late on Friday night, and Saturday morning I'd be rushing to get to Navasota, so I arranged to pick up a car for the week when I returned them to Hobby on Sunday morning. The same morning I'm making all these arrangements, I get an email from work telling me that, after three weeks of waiting, my new account is starting. Today. Conference call in one hour. Perfect timing. Also, I need to finish the memorial video, write the obituary per Bob Sr.'s request, and contact the funeral home regarding these things. While I'm on the phone, they start asking me to select times for visitation and services. I pick hours that will probably work best with all the travelling involved, check with Bob Sr. to make certain that's okay, and get onto my conference call in the nick of time. I start working on them, running into road blocks, contacting support, getting one hurdle cleared before running up on the next one. Meanwhile, I'm pulling in photos and songs and trying to sort them correctly and get the video done. That night we had our one meal out together to celebrate Nick's upcoming birthday next Tuesday, when he was supposed to be in Nashville.
It had started snowing as the cold front blew through and we practically had the restaurant to ourselves. We headed back home to have a birthday present and pie.
Thursday morning, still snowing, the kids pack up in Nick's Jeep and hit the road for a marathon day, 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. The weather relents by the time they're in southern Colorado and they have a seamless journey into Austin. The account I pick up is going to require clean-up, lots of research and work on getting old claims cleared out, as well as the current stuff, so I spend the 14 hours they're travelling, working. Friday morning, between getting Bob to the airport and myself ready to go and more work, the hours fly by. Bob is having difficulties all afternoon with American delaying the first flight, which made it impossible to catch the second into College Station, having to rebook for a later flight, which is also delayed, etc. I get Evan to Amber's, get myself to the airport for my light at 8:30 that evening, and Bob just barely lands ahead of me, even though I dropped him off some 9 hours before I started my journey. Steph gets me at Hobby after midnight, we get to her place, and crash until morning when we get up and head for Navasota.
flowers sent from my folks
Everyone made it. Nick and Jason served as pallbearers.
I was shocked to see Courtney at the cemetery. She'd slipped in the back as the service was starting and, in the family area, you can't see everyone else.
We had a small gathering after the cemetery with just family at a little place in Navasota before we headed back to Houston, Steph, me, Sam, Jason, and all the luggage.
last moment for all of us to be in the same place for another year!
We get back into Houston, meet up with Steph's husband, her two kids, his daughter, and have dinner before crashing again.
This morning, up and packed and out the door to get them on their flight back to Florida and me my rental car.
Steph drops us off and heads home.
I get them up to security and then head for the rental place, which has a sign saying "Please proceed directly to the shuttle"
So I go out, wait, get picked up by the rental shuttle over to the car lot. Go in, no one in line, think, "This is going to well,"
I pull out my wallet to produce my driver's license and . . . no driver's license.
Now, if I'd been able to come straight off the place and get the car, I'd have had it. But in the melee of getting through security, removing shoes, removing laptop, going through the detector, collecting bags, I apparently had shoved it with my boarding pass into a pocket of my laptop bag. When I pulled out the boarding pass to get on the place, there the license sat, tiny and hidden, waiting for me to discover it was missing from my wallet when it was in a bag, back at Steph's house, while I was standing here at the rental counter.
I call Steph.
I call some half a dozen times over the next hour, text her daughter, who is the only other number I have, and get no reply.
Finally, at the end of a long hour where I'm reduced to researching whether I can get an Uber to pick me up, Maddie wakes up, sees my text, and goes to alert her mom that her phone is getting blown up, with the sound off.
She searches the bag, finds it, and she and Robert drive back over to Hobby on their way to the boat show to save my skin, again.
I now have my rental for the week. And my license, firmly back in my wallet.
Nell Mask is my mother-in-law, and as MILs go, I hit the billion dollar jackpot. The first time we met, in 1990, was a Saturday trip from Hunstville over to Navasota for me to meet Bob and Nell (and, of course, be politely sized-up). Bob Sr. and Nell were generous and open and so much fun. And the following week, my Bob received a card from his mom telling him, in short, "Don't screw this up." When we found out I was pregnant before our first anniversary, it was Nell who handmade me a pregnancy shirt proudly proclaiming "Mask Productions: Due January 1993" Nothing delighted her more than her children until she had grandchildren. Living only 45 minutes away there were many early baby months were I packed up baby Nicholas and we spent Saturdays with the Masks in Navasota, not so much for colicky Nick to be soothed, but more for his first-time mom. Nell would happily scoop him up and rock him and sing to him for hours. I would actually get a nap. She tried heartily to teach Nicholas, same as grandchild #1, to call her "Grandmother" but when all he managed of that multi-syllabic choice was "Mun-a" she was delighted with it. And Muna she was, to both Nicholas and later Samantha. When we had the opportunity to move to Navasota and be down the block when Nick was a year old, we jumped at it. Bob transferred from Hunstville and, now living only 20 minutes from Bryan/College Station, I was able to land a part-time teaching gig at Blinn, which led to a full-time gig later. Bob made the jumped from TDCJ to Texas A&M about the same time. And both Nicholas and Samantha were able to have "Mrs. Mask" as their pre-k teacher, along with countless other Navasota children through the years. You see, Nell adores children in a way very few do. She meticulously planned activities and learning for four year-olds for a quarter of a century, first at Jack and Jill and later at Mother Goose Daycare. She would labor over a book handmade for each of her graduates filled with photos she had taken of them while in her care, letters and art she had helped them craft through the year, notes about how wonderful they were, for the parents. We have those still. What we don't have this year is Nell awake to wish a happy birthday today. She has slipped into a coma-like state from which, hospice workers tell us, she will not return. Her beloved Bob has been at her side every minute. And we wait for the inevitable: for her to let go and move on and for us to grieve her loss. So although she will not be able to hear me this year, I am thankful for her birth today, as we mark her 82nd year on earth, as a blessing to everyone who knew her. We love you, Nell.
Evan is Seven! (years with us, anyway . . . he's really turning ~9) On January 2, 2010 we went to the shelter and asked to see him. We were told there was someone on the list to meet him ahead of us but we could wait. And then, I suppose, those people picked another dog, or didn't come back for their meet and greet, and we were in. He was distracted and aloof and the info on him was he'd need training and do better in a home without small children. But we took a chance, brought him in, and he was an instant friend to Katy, perfectly behaved, and wonderful with little kids. Just goes to show you, those behavior evaluations are done in high stress situations where they can't get a good read on the dog's true personality.
He decided I would be his human. I figured it out shortly thereafter. And the rest is history. Some favorite photos of the past seven years . . . starting with the very first one 1/2/10
I realized I never posted anything about Christmas, and here I am in 2017.
It's been a weird month at the end of a long year. The blog has fallen down the list of things I remember to do. But here's what I got.
Bob went to see his folks the week before, as Nell is in rapidly declining health. This was one of her last good days, as he helped her look at the photos I've been scanning and adding of her photo albums.
Sam, Jason, and I went to Mom and Dad's for Christmas Eve as Bob got back from Texas.
Regal and Evan reunited, sort of.
And I didn't get a single photo of our small Christmas celebration the day Nick and Ali made it back to Colorado for the coming week. But I did catch this little video as Ali surprised Nick with a trip to Chicago to see Hamilton over Spring Break. Sam and I are madly jealous.
We all rang in the New Year playing games and watching Twilight Zone and bidding adieu to 2016 together. And again, no photos. I'm losing my touch.
The little guys flew away when we approached, but not this little falcon. She stayed right where she was, all puffed up at the cold. The little ones flitted back but stayed a respectable distance from her.
Remember I mentioned that I'd apparently not packed my back-up battery or the GoPro harness? So I hadn't used the camera the last night and was going to see how far I could get before my battery died for good.
We'd packed up the night before and set the alarm so we'd have time to get our bags down to the Magical Express service, get checked into our flight and grab our boarding passes before getting to the park before opening.
I hadn't unpacked my suitcase the whole trip, so it had been relatively easy to roll everything back up into my packing cubes. But, for some reason, just as we're walking out of the room for the last time, with Bob already out in the hallway, something made me reach over and open the top two drawers.
There, inside, lay my battery in its battery charger, the GoPro Harness . . .
and my CAR KEYS.
Yep, we were about to leave, fly to Denver, deplane, wait around at baggage claim, at which point, I would start digging around in my carry-on laptop looking for the car keys . . . that would have still been in Florida!
And you know what I was most excited about?
I HAVE A FULLY CHARGED CAMERA BATTERY!!
Okay, so here we go, with me snapping away happily.
It was on the way out of Winnie the Pooh that we ended up adding three more to our little party. Bill and Julie were waiting near the shop for us, and then there was this big-eyed Eeyore. With my Annual Pass discount, he was only $28! They said they'd just gotten him in that morning and I have to imagine he was tagged incorrectly. But he was mine!
From there we all headed over to Be Our Guest for breakfast.
And when we were ordering? I found my first Tori!
I think my house needs a crocodile weathervane
There's a new Muppet show in Liberty Square!
Last ride of the trip, same as the first!
and then it was time to head home. Last photos down Main Street
and off on the monorail to get on the way to Denver