It's been a little over a year since my mother passed away. My Dad has had a series of challenging physical problems to deal with during this year, but has recuperated amazingly well from each one. The last one, open heart surgery to replace a valve and in addition two bypasses, set him back for a few months, but once again he has rebounded and is residing at an assisted living facility near my sister in Franklin, NC.
I flew down to see him for two weeks in October and to be present, along with two sisters and a two brothers, for his 89th birthday. It was a grand reunion with much of the family present. The weather was warm and sunny for the most part and we even had a touch football game on Dad's lawn at his Franklin, residence. Dad sat in a wheelchair on the sidelines enjoying watching his children and grandchildren play a rowdy game ending in a tie. Dad was one of the first quarterbacks for the FSU Seminole team in Tallahassee, FL. This was when they first admitted men to the school. He wasn't able to remain on the team because he was working three jobs to put him and his sister through college. In high school, he was the quarterback as well and he greatly loves the game.
When we were children, he would come home after work each day as a State Farm Ins. agent to play touch football with all five of his children. Even neighborhood kids loved to come and play with us. My sister Nicki and I played on a sorority flag football team at UCF when it first began and was called Florida Technological University. Our team always won first place with Nicki as the quarterback and me as the running back and end receiver. Eventually all the other teams formed an all star team to try and beat us, but we still won. Dad would come out to watch us play which really meant a lot to us. So, football has been in our blood so to speak.
My youngest sister Wendy, who lives in Franklin, NC with her husband and family, kept us busy with all kinds of fun activities during our time together. She and I went Zip Lining for the first time ever in the beautiful fall colored mountains. That was a thrill.
When I was in high school, Dad became part of a small group of men who built the first condominiums on New Smyrna Beach, Florida. What a wonderful experience that was for our family. My sister Nicki and I became devoted surfers and entered quite a few contests. To this day, our whole family loves spending time at the beach from the years we spent there during our childhood days. We met and became close friends with other high school boys and girls, especially those who enjoyed surfing. One of those young men, Fred Baker, has become like a brother to us and a son to Mom and Dad. He is pictured above standing behind me in the picture of Dad and my other two sisters and brother.
Nothing is more important than families spending time together and staying connected in bonds of love. It provides a network of stability, encouragement and hope for each member. I feel so blessed to be a part of our extended family. And it keeps on growing....:)