Hmm..Where should I begin? The long drive wasn’t so bad, just the typical bickering and sibling barking over spacial rights. Nikos’ “other woman” told him to go up and down and all around a mountain in rural Tennessee for three hours in the dark night for no reason but to drive me CRAZY. Nikos was lost as his other woman abandoned him with a dropped signal. Why are you still asking me why I refuse to own a cell phone? I love maps, paper in hand, wrinkled coffee-stained colorful maps! I don’t and will never need a cell phone. Have fun turning into zombies-I’ll be referring to my maps to run from you!
We were on our way to Myrtle Beach, a Thanksgiving tradition we enjoyed for years back when we lived in West Virginia, and simply too special to relinquish, even though it’s now a daunting 21-hour drive.
Sunday was promising, beautiful as I drove through the Smokey Mountains and sing-song yelled at the kids and Nikos to look up from their hypnotic screens and revel in the full-blown autumn foliage. What a gift to witness autumn all over again as the brilliance of fall had evolved into cold November barren trees back in Minnesota.
Oh we were indeed captains of all dorks as we approached our destination. As thrilling as it was to anticipate sweet sunshine and the ocean breeze, poor Nikolas wasn’t fairing so well. He began running a low-grade fever and coughing.
The fancy schmancy resort (very reasonable rates off-season) was perfect, our room ocean-front, spacious and pristine. We checked in, hopped around and ran out on the balcony and Katerina had at once begun scanning the ocean for dolphins. That was when I realized we’d forgotten the Nikon. All we had was Nikos’ phone, and it takes sorry-looking pictures.
The five of us walked out onto the beach to catch our welcome gift of an artist’s sunset.
Nikolas was feeling worse but well enough to eat, so we drove to the Sea Captain’s House, a Myrtle Beach must-eat. My boy ate a baked potato and hardly touched his jambalaya. When one of my babies is sick, my stomach aches, lasts the duration of their illness, so I wasn’t all that hungry either.
Back in our condo, I tucked Nikolas into bed, kissed his fevered forehead and prayed he’d feel better by morning. Well, he didn’t. Nikolas is asthmatic, and it can turn severe within an hour. Of course, he had his inhaler, had been puffing away, but the coughing ensued.
The following morning, Nikolas was burning up with fever, and my hubby Nikos wasn’t feeling all that well either, but insisted on taking Nikolas to the local hospital. Meanwhile, the girls and I enjoyed the beach and sunshine.
We walked and inhaled the salty breeze, chattered away with the seagulls. Katerina handed me two pounds worth of seashell treasures, her favorites were the big gray bulky broken ones. I used my best theatrics to feign delight, and I shamelessly chucked over half of the collection while my seven-year-old was distracted. I’m a horrible mother.
So, my baby big boy returned with antibiotics and steroids, but at least he hadn’t pneumonia. He crawled into bed and slept for most of the day. I was simply sad, didn’t want to enjoy the beach without him. Nikos also crawled into a second bed, had now developed a fever as well.
I went to the grocery store and bought all I needed for Thanksgiving dinner, and ginger ale and cranberry juice for Nikolas. He begged me to go and enjoy, said he’d feel worse if I didn’t-Nikolas and his considerate heart! I knew Nikos was pretty bad off as well when I found him swiping tears while watching one Hallmark movie after another. I slowly backed away on tip-toes at that sight!
The night was long, Nikolas’ chronic coughing jarred my soul. I also had a dream that my banker friend Bridgette called and told me to check my bank account. I have a personal account that is designated for trips and emergencies. My baking, substitute teaching and sorry pay from writing comprises the balance of that account.
When I woke a bit groggy from a long night, I remembered my dream and Bridgette’s news and checked my account on the laptop. Lo and behold some meanie was emptying my account by the minute in Shakopee, Minn! I was distraught, one because I scared myself thinking I may be a psychic having that dream, and two, my feelings were hurt! I began imagining a sweet elderly woman shopping for her Thanksgiving meal for her family. I was certain that my account hadn’t been the only hacked. What if that poor grandmother hadn’t any other way to pay for her groceries? Seriously, you bank card-stealing slimy people, get a freaking real job! I called the bank when it opened, and they cancelled my card. The good news was that at least it wasn’t our joint account, then we’d have been walking a long way home with a turkey leg in one hand and suitcase in the other!
Even better news was that Nikolas felt a bit better, wanted to go down to the beach and then sit in the Jacuzzi. Nikolas, Katerina and I strolled along the shore, my heart flew with the secretly chucked seashells as my sweet boy was feeling up for a walk.
Nikolas instructed Katerina how to walk on her toes to make doggy prints. Years ago, I’d shown Nikolas how to make them, Elizabeth too. Nikolas’ tone and enthusiasm were taken straight out of my mouth, awakening my memory and wonder at how I’d managed to forget. Katerina reveled in her new talent, and it hurried my little dawdler along.
Nikos remained in bed for most of the day with his sinus infection. And then, it was Elizabeth’s turn, her illness expressed by some sort of a stomach virus. How puzzling that all three had different illnesses; my controlling nature needed to fix everybody and I could not. There came a point when Katerina and I were the only two to be out swimming and walking while the rest of the sickly crew boosted Hallmark channel ratings.
I walked around five miles every day, often I’d shake my head at my missed opportunity to be in fabulous shape had I lived at the beach.
Hours went by every day while Katerina and I built some sorry-looking sand castles or picked out more seashells, and suddenly there they appeared-Katerina’s dolphins! They returned every afternoon, graceful dancing leaping dolphins! This was all Katerina wanted, said it was the best souvenir.
The song of the waves as I gazed out lazily alongside my busy Katerina, sent me back to the sweetest years I’ve ever known. My babies’ footprints washed away by time, splashing giggling babbling beautiful golden memories so brief in an infinite universe.
Nikos crawled out of his jammies and insisted that he was well enough to take me to the hotel’s restaurant on a date (Hey thanks Hallmark for Nikos’ sudden spell of romance!) Meanwhile, we ordered pizzas to be delivered for the kids in our condo, and they watched the Charlie Brown special.
I recognized our waiter from a couple of years ago, a very tall man with a hearty laugh, just like my uncle Tom’s. He asked me what desserts I’d be making for Thanksgiving dinner when I told him all three kids pick out a pie every year. He said he hadn’t coconut cream pie in many years, so I told him I’d bring him a piece down since he’d be working. The resort puts on an elaborate Thanksgiving meal, but I’d never want to skip cooking it myself.
That kindly old man shouldn’t still be working, made me want to get our own dishes from the kitchen. When he asked where we lived, he shook his head and answered, “I ain’t never been nowhere outta South Carolina, and I guess I don’t reckon I’d get round to goin’ now.” I smiled and added, “Sir, if you had to choose a nowhere, Myrtle Beach would be my very first pick.” His booming laughter followed him like a well-worn shadow as he shuffled back to the kitchen.
Thanksgiving Day was the Macy’s Day parade, 5-hour scent of sage, butter and turkey and bellies growling. I made all the fixings for our Thanksgiving meal, Katerina licked the “debba egg” filling from the mixing bowl, and I never set off the smoke detector.
We’d a nice meal, everyone got along and ate heartily. I took a good 40-minute nap, and then sent Nikos downstairs with a hefty piece of promised pie for Phillip, the waiter. Nikos said he’d never seen a happier man when he’d handed him the plate!
The following evening, we ate the very best prime rib in America, at our favorite restaurant in Myrtle Beach, Flamingo Grill. Wishing I could unbutton my pants after that big yummy meal, Nikos dropped the girls and I off at the Carolina Opry House to watch the Christmas Spectacular. Inside the decorations were dramatic, ornate and sparkling, with hardly an empty seat.
The show was fantastic, but Elizabeth said there wasn’t enough dancing. We enjoyed it very much, I even bought the girls a popcorn at intermission and an overpriced Christmas ornament as a souvenir. During the program, there was some light political humor, not at all amusing as I was still awfully sore over the election results two weeks prior. I felt a twinge of pride when Elizabeth slo-mo applauded at the innuendos against the White House, and I didn’t need to glance over to know she was rolling her eyes. Elizabeth was also a little sore from the election, especially because she was two months shy of becoming a registered voter.
The show was a mixture of dazzling entertainment and Hee Haw-feel-good-old-days. I was glad we had gone, and it was worth the steep price. Another mentionable about the company was that they noticed Nikos standing outside in the lobby for the show to finish. They warmly invited him inside the auditorium to watch the remainder of the show.
At 3 am. I heard a whale bellowing until I realized we were ashore and it was Elizabeth! She had an earache and was in excruciating pain. Nikos said he’d yet again go to the hospital since he knew how to get there. No, I refuse to tell you the cost of two ER visits, and yes, it was more than our week at the resort!
Elizabeth had a major ear infection and the doctor explained that her eardrum had nearly ruptured. She was all good to go with Gatorade and more antibiotics.
Despite all of the sickness, overdose of Hallmark movies, enough tissues to recycle a semi-truck, bank card theft, ER cost, and poor political humor, my baby Katerina saw her dolphins, many, many times! An elderly man who has never left South Carolina in all his life was given a big ol’ piece of his favorite pie, and we were together, the five of us, my precious little family. I am indeed thankful.