Come Friday, the final pages of an almost twelve-year chapter of our lives will gently close. In May of 2003, my wife, Cindy, and our two younger children, Jeremy and Mariah, brought our belongings from Orlando to Lakeland in a large U-Haul truck, opening the pages of this chapter. For almost twelve years, I have practiced as an emergency physician in one of the busiest (if not the busiest) emergency departments in the country. We now see over 200,000 patients/year, have approximately 133 beds, and at any time will have eleven physicians and five mid-level practitioners seeing patients. On this present stretch, I’ve now completed eleven shifts and have seven more to go until I work my final shift at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. With no family or real estate tying us to Lakeland, I’m not sure how often, or if, we will return. We have many friends and “like-family members” who we will miss dearly.
On the other hand, it is an exciting time for Cindy and I. We will now have more freedom and longer periods of time to cruise in our sailing home. I will be working less frequently, which means we’ll have much more flexibility in our cruising plans. We’ll be able to take our time and spend as much or as little time in a particular place as we wish, without the pressure to rush from here to there within three weeks to be in a spot conducive to returning to work. I can’t wait to get back to Beatitude and point her bow in a northward direction, exploring over the next couple of months such places as St. Augustine, FL, Cumberland Island, GA, Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC, as well as sites further northward. I’m looking at the eastern seaboard and wondering how we’ll ever fit it all into one summer. By late fall, we hope to be back in the Bahamas, with the Caribbean in our sights.
But for now, I will work seven more shifts over the next six days. Cindy flies in from Ohio in three days to join me in Lakeland. I will sure be glad to have her back. She is the spice in my life, and everything is bland without her by my side. Before returning to Beatitude, however, we will see another part of the world by air and land. On Saturday, at 6:54 p.m., we will board a plane in Tampa bound for Tel Aviv, Israel, arriving at 5:35 p.m. (Israel time) on Sunday, the 12th. We are so excited about our 2-week trip to the Holy Land. It will truly be a pilgrimage for us, experiencing, first hand, the land and historical sites which shaped Christianity. If possible, I hope to blog our daily experiences from the Holy Land. I have no idea if we will have the wifi or the time to allow for regular blogging… but we will see!
In the meantime, here are some photos from a few activities outside of work, from my nature walks and a visit to Spring Training Baseball.