Road Trip – Part 1

The tree in the lobby of the Lakeland Terrace Hotel, a frequent home away from home

The tree in the lobby of the Lakeland Terrace Hotel, a frequent home away from home

Tis the season to be Jolly!

Tis the season to be Jolly!

Carolers on the terrace of the Terrace

Carolers on the terrace of the Terrace

Enjoying our annual Christmas party for the LRMC emergency physicians and mid-level providers at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa

Enjoying our annual Christmas party for the LRMC emergency physicians and mid-level providers at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa

Three shifts down, eight to go for my second stint of December working in the emergency department. On Monday, December 15th, after finishing my first string of shifts, we drove our rented Chevy Impala north out of Lakeland. The first day’s destination – Atlanta, Georgia, my hometown. My three sisters still reside in the metro Atlanta area. It is rare that we all get together. So, I was excited to find out we could all meet for dinner at my oldest sister, Wanda’s, home. We had a wonderful time of food, refreshments, and catching up before calling it a night.

Me and my sisters, Lisa, Gail, and Wanda

Me and my sisters, Lisa, Gail, and Wanda

Wanda's two grandchildren, Gaius and Winry

Wanda’s two grandchildren, Gaius and Winry

The next day’s goals were ambitious. We would continue northward toward Barberton, Ohio to be with Cindy’s family for a few days. Her dad was not well and in the hospital, hastening our journey into colder weather. However, we had three desired stops along the way: The Atlanta High Museum of Art, the Bob Jones University Museum in Greenville, South Carolina, and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

We arrived at the High Museum around the time it opened on Tuesday morning. Cindy and I have visited the High on at least two previous occasions. But, we really wanted to stop this time because of a special visiting exhibit: The Cantoria of Lucca della Robbia. However, I’ll save the Cantoria for the next post. Instead, I’ll show some photos from another visiting exhibition showing works by Paul Cézanne, especially his watercolors.

An unusual Van Gogh

An unusual Van Gogh

I can't remember who the artist is,, but I really like it.

I can’t remember who the artist is,, but I really like it.

Cézanne (1839-1906), was a French post-impressionist who bridged the gap between late 19th-century impression and the 20th-century movement known as cubism. In Baltimore, over 20 years ago, a visiting display of this transitional artist, who was called “the father of us all” by men like Matisse and Picasso, first piqued my interest in fine art. Art history and the appreciation of fine art is now a passion of mine. What was unique about the exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta, was its focus on his watercolors, which is not what comes quickly to mind when thinking of Cézanne. The simple (easy for me to say) graphite sketches sparingly decorated with color are, I think, quite beautiful.

Watercolor still-life by Cézanne

Watercolor still-life by Cézanne

Cézanne

Cézanne

Cézanne Watercolor

Cézanne Watercolor

Next time, Lucca della Robbia.

The Death of a Good Man

It has been 18 days since my last post. Much has happened since then, which I’ll share in several blogs over the next few days.

Don and Jean Harris

Don and Jean Harris

My first post regards the death of a very good man, my father-in-law, Donald K. Harris, at the age of 82. He crossed over the threshold of mortality and entered into the presence of Jesus on the 17th of this month. We raced against time to see him while he was still alive. After working my string of 10 shifts in Lakeland, we began a road trip northward. We stopped overnight in Atlanta to visit with my sisters (more to come), and stopped in Asheville, N.C. overnight on December 16th. We left the morning of the 17th, knowing that Cindy’s father’s condition was deteriorating. Somewhere in West Virginia, we heard the news that he had been placed on a ventilator. In retrospect, this kept him alive long enough for us to see him before he passed away. After 8 1/2 hours of driving, we arrived at Barberton Hospital 2 hours before his death. He was intubated and sedated, but we talked to him and sang to him over the last two precious hours.

A beautiful drive through the mountains of N.C.

A beautiful drive through the mountains of N.C.

Clouds threaten as we drive through the mountains

Clouds threaten as we drive through the mountains

Cindy and I went back to his room in the ICU shortly after 8. I notice his blood pressure had been critically low over the past several measurements (50s systolic). I could tell the nurse was concerned. When I questioned him about it, he stated he was going to call the doctor. A moment later, I noticed his heart rate decreasing. I immediately told Cindy to go get Mom. Dad was leaving this world for a better place. A couple of moments later, Mom, Cindy, and Christy (Cindy’s twin sister) arrived to the bedside and started singing one of Dad’s favorite songs, “Sheltered in the Arms of God.” They were singing this song as he left this life of suffering for a life of undefiled joy and health. The nurses rushed in with the code cart and readied to do chest compressions. I asked them to please let him go. He did not have a formal DNR order, but he did not need to suffer any longer. Mom and the family agreed. At 8:35, his heart stopped, and he was gone.

Cindy and I at Hamburger Station with family

Cindy and I at Hamburger Station with family

The twins, beautifully arrayed for the funeral

The twins, beautifully arrayed for the funeral

Don loved his wife and children and worked hard over a 44 career at Goodyear Tire to support them. He loved God and attending church, which he did faithfully all his life. Cindy and I are glad that he and Mom were able to visit us aboard Beatitude a couple of times while we were docked in Bradenton. While he wasn’t crazy about us becoming seafarers, he was always supportive despite his misgivings. There wasn’t anything he enjoyed more than making music on the mandolin and banjo. He played both throughout his years of performing bluegrass-style music. At times, he played in bluegrass bands, and at other times, he played and sang along with his wife, Jean, who played the guitar. He was generous with his talent, often playing in nursing homes and churches. One thing I could count on when visiting my in-laws in Ohio, I would be able to hear Dad on his mandolin. Both he and his music will be missed on this earth. He is now listening and participating in music on a grander scale…. And, I’m sure he is enjoying himself.

A table of remembrances for Dad (at his funeral)

A table of remembrances for Dad (at his funeral)

The most moving part of the funeral for me, my three children and their "cuzbro" (as they call him), Jonathan, playing "Ashokan's Farewell."  Jeremy played the melody on the mandolin, back up by Julie on the guitar, Mariah on the banjo, and Jonathan on the ukulele.  Dad would be so proud and thankful.

The most moving part of the funeral for me, my three children and their “cuzbro” (as they call him), Jonathan, playing “Ashokan’s Farewell.” Jeremy played the melody on the mandolin, back up by Julie on the guitar, Mariah on the banjo, and Jonathan on the ukulele. Dad would be so proud and thankful.

We were thankful that we were able to see him before he died, and that we were able to be with mom during this difficult time. We spent the next several days, preparing for the funeral and trying to sort out Mom’s financial future. The holidays were a little more stressful than expected, but we are so glad that we were there. In fact, while we had hoped Dad would pull through his illness, his death occurred at the most opportune time for Cindy and I. I could have been scheduled to work multiple days in a row, or worse, we could have been out of the country or out on the open water. So, while we are saddened by Dad’s absence, we are grateful we were able to be there when his passing occurred.

We were also thankful to be with our three children. Because of Dad’s passing, our son, Jeremy, flew in from California, our daughter, Mariah, flew in from Boston, and our daughter, Julie, drove in from Pennsylvania. It’s not often that our immediate family can be together, so we are especially glad when it happens.

Our family, reunited once again.

Our family, reunited once again.

Mom and Son

Mom and Son

The girls:  Julie, Tracy, and Mariah

The girls: Julie, Tracy, and Mariah

Don's wife (center), flanked by their children, Donnie, Christy, Cindy, and Tim

Don’s wife (center), flanked by their children, Donnie, Christy, Cindy, and Tim

Don's six grandchildren, Kristin, Ben, Jon, Mariah, Julie, and Jeremy

Don’s six grandchildren, Kristin, Ben, Jon, Mariah, Julie, and Jeremy

I miss Beatitude and I missthe water. We will not return to Green Turtle Cay until January 5th. Until then, I’ll provide a few highlights of our experiences of the past couple of weeks.

Good-bye, Beatitude

With some sadness, we had to leave Beatitude in the Bahamas for four and a half weeks. We waved good-bye from the back of a water taxi Friday morning. We hope she is safe while we are away and that we find her just as we left her.

On the Ferry, leaving Beatitude at the dock on Green Turtle Cay

On the Ferry, leaving Beatitude at the dock on Green Turtle Cay

We caught the Green Turtle Cay Ferry from the Bluff House Marina dock in the morning around nine. After a quick trip across the Sea of Abaco, we arrived on Treasure Cay where we caught a taxi to the Treasure Cay airport. We arrived much earlier than needed, but we were following the recommendations of the marina staff. The airport is definitely the smallest airport I’ve ever been in. Since we had some time on our hands, we left our bags with one of the Silver Airways personnel and walked across the street to the Junkanoo Cafe. We sat outside and enjoyed breakfast, consisting of yellow grits and corned beef hash. The food was good and the staff was great. A couple of dogs walked up and watched us finish our meal (Cindy gave the crippled one some of her grits). When we returned to the airport, we checked in for our flight and sat down to wait for 2-3 hours. Believe it or not, we had free wifi! This helped the time pass a little more quickly.

Outside seating at the Junkanoo Cafe

Outside seating at the Junkanoo Cafe

Ready for some yellow grits and corned beef hash for breakfast

Ready for some yellow grits and corned beef hash for breakfast

Inside the Cafe

Inside the Cafe

Soon we were boarding our Saab 340B+ Turboprop plane for the quick trip to Ft. Lauderdale. Once in Ft. Lauderdale, we changed planes, again to a Saab 340B for another quick trip to Orlando. Approximately twelve hours after leaving on the water taxi, we arrived at the Terrace Hotel in Lakeland, our home for the next ten days while I work…

The booming Treasure Cay International Airport

The booming Treasure Cay International Airport

Waiting to board our plane

Waiting to board our plane

The view from our seat on the plane: A prop and the promise of 10dB less noise.

The view from our seat on the plane: A prop and the promise of 10dB less noise.

It is now Monday morning, and I’ve completed 3 of my 10 shifts at the LRMC emergency department. Our plans are to return to Beatitude to resume cruising on January 5th. One week from today, we will go on a road trip, driving first to Atlanta to visit my sisters and their families, then to Barberton, Ohio to visit Cindy’s family and our oldest daughter, and then on to Boston to visit our youngest daughter. From Boston, I’ll fly back to Lakeland for another ten shifts prior to returning to the sea. I’m sure we’ll post a couple of updates along the way until we return to Green Turtle Cay.

Back in Lakeland.  Sunday lunch with the Browns and the Browns.

Back in Lakeland. Sunday lunch with the Browns and the Browns.