Can't keep the Jersey girl away from her Garden State
New Jersey Travel Blog› entry 2 of 38 › view all entries
I left my Southern home for my Northern home much later than I should have. It was totally my fault. I was up late into the morning writing out my emotions about this trip home. Once I started I could not stop the flow of words. It was close to 5 am when I made myself go to bed and even there I just laid there, staring into the darkness, trying my best to slow my thoughts.
Normally I am not too fretted about when I will arrive at my parents place in NJ. I'll get there when I get there, right? This trip had a purpose. The annual family holiday party was on Jan 7th. This year it was held at my Uncle's home in New York, close to the Jersey border. It took us 5 hours - should have been 3 - to get through traffic and pick up my grandmother.
Knowing that because I would need to be up and ready early in the morning of the 7th, I did not have much time - if any- to waste.
There was no choice, I had to drive straight through the night. I left Baton Rouge around 4pm and arrived the next day in Trenton, NJ around 8pm. I stopped once at a gas station outside Knoxville for a 2 hour nap and then briefly in Virginia rest stop for a nap. It has been a long time since I pulled that sort of driving. I use to do it all the time in college, but now its is mentally exhausting..
But I am home now!
It was good to see my mom again. I gave her the christmas gift that I have been working hard on for the past month. My father gets her worked up about my gift.. She thought I bought something expensive and was ready to give me a lecture about wasting money on unnecessary things. Haha..
Mom is super practical about everything and never wants anything for her birthdays or xmas because it would be better for us to save our $$. But I knew mom would love the small portraits of her "pet children" I painted. Of the six we had, we are down to three. Last year around xmas we lost our shepherd, Maggie, and I accidentally erased the last photos taken during her final walk from the camera before uploading them.. I felt horrible and wanted to give my mother something to remember her babies.
She loved the paintings and brought them up with us to show the family and I think she even brought them to work to show her friends. Nothing beats a happy mom.
I would have loved to slept in, but early I am up and ready I am to go. I decided to ride with my folks - no desire to drive another mile - and the plan was for us to pick up my grandmother. Dad had bought her a new flat screen tv to replace the old blurry one she had. An old woman with cataracts should not be watching her weather channel on a blurry tv. She was happy with it. Maybe a happy grandmother beats a Happy mom??
My grandmother is funny. I am seriously thinking of writing a book about her and what it is like to be related to such madcap woman. She is not your typical grandmother, and she is not one that I would say that I wish everyone had. She is a character and you learn to deal with all of her eccentric character with a friendly laugh. This year she gave me - the vegan- a pewter statue of a Bald Eagle killing its fishy prey. She is fond of these statues.. She said it reminded her of me so she ordered it off QVC. I am not sure how a bird of prey killing its dinner would remind anyone of me, but we smile and enjoy the little bit of humor as a gift.
At my Uncle's I see most of the Palecek clan have already arrived and seem to be having a great time. Several of us are missing for a variety of reasons, mostly because of distance. My aunt made a large dinner and included one dish for me. lucky for me it was pretty good. :)
Dinner was extremely informal. people just grabbed a plate, picked a few items and went off to their respective seats. A few of us, including myself, ended up at the dinning table with the food. We were having a great conversation when my grandmother came in and loudly complained that she had not eaten yet and could not see the food on the table without the light on. all she had to do was ask, but she had a few drinks in her and was getting to her cranky point. She can be fickled at times. She likes her independence, is very stubborn about what she can do; but every now and then she is annoyed that we did not do something she quietly expects. it was another moment to just laugh and get her a plate.
There was a ton of catching up with everyone. I don't see them often. Sometimes years have gone by between our meet ups. I even met for the first time one of my father's cousins from VT. I was sad that I didn't get to talk more with her, I don't know much about her half of the family. she kind of threw me off in the beginning by approaching me in a very comfortable 'we have already caught up' manner. haha I was actually panic that I was not remembering something, but then I realized that this was just a part of her personality. hopefully i'll see her again and meet the rest her half of the family.
Gifts were exchanged and more laughs were had when it was clear to everyone that it was time to go.
We had to drop grandma off first before going home. I walked her up to her apartment. My father tried to come with us, but she was not having any of that - stubborn independence strikes again! While saying goodbye to her, the building's security guard, Tom.
I am really happy I met Tom. He saw that I was "Beth's Granddaughter" and immediately told me, when out of earshot from grandma, that I am really lucky to have her and that everyone in the building loves her. He went on to express what a wonderful woman she was, how she made him feel so welcomed when he started this job three years ago and that if it wasn't for her planning there would be no bingo night for the people in the building.
I'm really happy that I walked her up to the apartment. Hearing someone genuinely express to you how much they appreciate your grandmother is always humbling. I jest a lot about my grandmother and her unique personality, but I always love her. I didn't realize how much of an impact she had on others and I feel even more sad when I think about loss we will experience when she is gone.
At the end of a long day I am home again and ready for a full night sleep. Today was worth the hectic drive North. I should see my family more often.