Tears, travel and thankfulness

June 21, 2014 | My Jottings

I had leftover Mexican food for breakfast, and it was a great way to start the day. I prepared traditional breakfast fare for everyone else, but imagining the cheese enchilada and bit of rice and beans I was going to enjoy after serving everyone else was the second thing I did this morning.

The first thing I did was shed a few self-pitying tears that dripped down my chubby cheeks, ran into my ears and ended up on the pillow. The tears were prompted by this song. And by life too, I guess. Go ahead and click — it will open in a separate window and you can listen as you read. You might ask me — Julie, if these classic songs you’ve been listening to make you cry, why listen to them? And I would answer, I love the songs, and it doesn’t matter how they make me feel. I just love them.

Yesterday Michael’s home health aide Paul arrived at 3:30 for his weekly two hour shift. We have a nice woman named Liz who comes on Monday mornings, and for those two hours I am able to hole myself up in my office to catch up on Foster paperwork, write out bills, answer letters, return phone calls and read a few of my favorite blogs. On Fridays when Paul comes for his two hours, I usually leave to grocery shop or run other errands. Paul helps Michael shower, dress, fixes him a snack and keeps him company, and Michael really likes him. They have some things in common (both are former Marines, rock hounds/agate pickers, and avid fishermen.) Yesterday I had a little shopping to do, and then impulsively I decided to have an early dinner by myself at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I ordered food to take home for dinner with me, and Michael was pretty happy about his #8 combination meal.

A couple days ago Michael awakened from an afternoon nap and I laid down next to him for a few minutes. He grinned at me and I was struck again at how much I love his smile. I asked him, “What would you like me to do for you?” He thought about that for a bit and then whisper-answered, “Take me to Italy.” I could tell he was serious. I felt he was wanting to go on a trip while it’s still physically possible, although in my opinion that’s iffy.  There is no way I could take him unless we did some kind of accessible tour for older folks with wheelchairs. Everything would have to be planned for by other people, buses for wheelchairs would have to be the transports, and all hotels and tours would have to accommodate wheelchairs as well. I told him that a tour like that would probably be exhausting; he gets completely worn out if I have to take him in our car to the doctor. I honestly can’t picture a flight across the Atlantic, airport waits, bathroom hurdles, tour lines in Rome and Florence and Venice (do they even have wheelchair accessible gondolas?) without some kind of crisis.


I know I sound whiny, but I even doubt my own ability to take Michael on a tour like this, even if all those things were provided. I am worn out. I think I could go to my beloved Pacem in Terris if given the opportunity, and sleep for a week. But since Michael asked, I’m thinking and praying. It could be something wonderful and miraculous, or it could be just a really bad idea. If I were choosing the destination of our imaginary trip, most of you who visit here regularly know it would be the UK.

Last Tuesday was the first week of the annual summer Bible study I host in my home. We are studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians. There’s a beautiful heart-knitting that takes place each summer, and I’m always a little bit in awe over how the Lord does that. I think there’s a common theme running through many of the twelve women’s lives this year — fear and loss. All of us have been Christians for years and years, and there isn’t a spring chicken among us. But here we are again at the feet of Jesus, asking Him to show us how to truly trust Him, live in His peace, and experience joy in the midst of these painful circumstances we find ourselves in.

Michael has been napping in his recliner next to me as I’ve been typing, and he’s now awake and needs some assistance. Later I will put a roast in the crockpot for our dinner tonight. Rosemary roasted red potatoes, spring greens for a salad, and sliced, lean tenderloin are all on the menu. Soon I will tell you about the lavish meals that two friends have brought to our home recently. And the generous check we got in the mail so we could order dinner out instead of my having to cook. Such burden lifters! I have been humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity and love of the people God has put in our lives.

I hope your weekend is either peaceful or fun or productive….whatever you need it to be to be blessed. I ask God to touch and bless every person reading these words.

In His grip,


  1. sue raimo says:

    Just for the record- you do NOT sound whiny. That you would even consider taking Michael on an overseas trip is a testimony of your love. I don’t have much desire to travel, but I do enjoy watching travel documentaries. Perhaps that might be a way for the two of you enjoy “visiting” far away places that your strength prohibits experiencing in person. Love to you both this day.

  2. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Sue. I think I should put some travel documentaries in our Netflix queue today. Thank you for the wonderful suggestion. Love to you… xoxo

  3. Larry says:

    Hello Sis:

    I have been to Italy several times, and found that there are many back canal eateries and many back canal spots that were very interesting and have also recently views where two can travel to and recently there has been two shows that were all about Italy.

    When you speak of “do they even have wheelchair accessible gondolas?” and the answer is a flat no.

    For many of them you have to step down into the gondola to board, and getting out is even harder if you are not sound on your feet.

    There are a lot of other locations in Italy, that would be a lot easier, but they too would be very difficult to handle when it comes to boarding a plane or using the restroom on a plane or getting off of a plane.

    Perhaps if I can say something that is not intended bold, there are lots of “Little Italy’s” here in the United States, where communities in certain cities have interesting sites.

    But they are not re-enactments of the actual place.

    Have you looked for an Italian hotel or Italian festival that might be held each year in different Italian locals here in the U.S.A.?

    It sounds as if it is perhaps a item in Michaels Bucket List of places he has always wanted to visit?

    Perhaps a visit to an Italian festival here in our own country or even in Canada which is also close that might provide the fulfillment of that last item in his bucket list?

    I respect your desire to give him perhaps one last special request, and there has to be another way to give him joy with in that request without facing extreme situations that could happen in a foreign land miles away from a doctor he would trust or close to a hospital that he would recognize?

    Many things to consider before taking that major step.

    I have never gone on the internet to see what we have, but would bet that you might be able to find something.:-)

    Perhaps it is just as you said and that is Michael wants to just go away on a special trip with you and have some quiet pasta’s and a little glass of vino with the woman he has loved for these many past years? 🙂

    Have you ever looked up famous Italian restaurants? are there any little Italian get “a-ways” available?

    Think about it but more importantly be in prayer about it Sis, no one is going to judge you (except perhaps yourself) if you were not to take him on a foreign trip out of this country. No one would ever think other wise.

    One last comment, have you ever taken him to a “Travel Pot Luck” Italian dinner where some friends or family set up a dinner where an Italian salad is served at one home and then a Italian bread is served at another home and an Italian veggie with dips are served at another home and an Italian entre is served at another home and an Italian desert is served at yet another home? These types of meals are a blast and it would be very much different and bet he has never done that either?


  4. Just Julie says:

    Hi Larry, Yes, Michael and I have taken part in several of those progressive dinners you mention, and they are so fun. That wouldn’t be an option for us now since getting him in and out of the house/car, etc is very iffy. And I think he wants to go to Italy to see the country, not so much for the food. Who knows what will happen? I do think we’ll get some travel videos as my friend Sue suggested, and enjoy those. Have a good week Larry… xo

  5. Ganeida says:

    Go. It’s the things we haven’t done we regret, not the things we tried & failed at. If the Lord provides he will provide for everything! He’s good like that. 😉 {{{hugs}}}

  6. Just Julie says:

    I so agree with you, Ganeida. We took a family trip we really couldn’t afford many years ago and I fretted over the cost. Never once have I regretted going. We paid for it and created good memories. If I could charter a jet we would leave tomorrow! It’s the details of even being able to get him in a plane that I’m most concerned about. His visuo-spatial issues from the Lewy Body Dementia tell his brain that even our wide living room is too narrow for him to walk in. I can’t imagine what a crowded plane and narrow aisle would do. He truly freezes and cannot move an inch in some situations. I want to bless him though… thank you for your prayers and thoughts. xoxo

  7. Ember says:

    A trip to Italy sounds too difficult for you to consider now, but I wonder if you could have a trip to Italy at home? Could you have a week when you had all Italian food, listened to some Italian opera, watched some Italian films (http://www.swide.com/art-culture/movies/top-10-most-romantic-movies-in-italy-and-their-locations/2013/08/27), including documentaries? A popular Italian holiday is to Lake Garda, where lemons are grown at the lakeside. Tourists are taken for a ride round the lake, and see the wayside shrines. Could you make a little shrine of your own, and put on it your own ‘wayside prayers’ – the prayers you and Michael want to offer just now for the place you have reached on this trip together? And maybe go in your car for a drive by the lake, and have some Italian lemonade cooling in the refrigerator for when you get home? Maybe your grandchildren could join in, and prepare a little performance themed on Italy to perform for the two of you?
    Of course it wouldn’t be the same – it would be different.; but that could be okay.


  8. Just Julie says:

    I think your suggestions are wonderful, Ember. I’m going to get a lot of those movies too — I’ve only seen one and I think Michael would enjoy doing this. Italian opera would surprise and delight him, too. The shrine/altar, Italian meals, music, movies — what a memorable month that would create, right in our own home. I will try to pull some of this off. I’m touched you took the time to send links and these ideas, friend. xoxo

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