Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Joia's Weekend in Florida, May 7-10, 2015

A while ago, I told Philip I thought I should make plans to visit our old neighbor, Myrtle. There were several reasons for this: 1)Leaving her was the hardest part of leaving Florida. 2) I didn't want her to think she doesn't matter to us anymore and 3) She's 84. I wanted to have some good times with her and not wait for a call that I needed to make the trip for a funeral.    Philip booked the flights and it turned into a wonderful "pre-Mother's day" weekend of fun for just me! =)

Whenever I'm traveling alone, I pray and ask the Lord to use me to help or encourage someone along my way.

During my layover in Dallas, I was on my computer at a desk about three gates away from where I'd be boarding for my flight to Fort Walton Beach.    A soft spoken, elderly man tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would help him by reading the board of flight information for him, since his eyes weren't very good.  I said, "Sure!  What flight are you on?"  He said "Fort Walton Beach", I said, "That's where I'm going!"  he said, "Well, don't leave without me!"   He sat down nearby to wait.    When it getting close to time to board, I told him and we walked to our gate and sat down.    We started chatting and I randomly asked him what seat he was in on the flight.     I checked his boarding pass and he was 7B.     I was 7C.   How cool!

Morris, WW2 veteran who turns 90 next month!

We talked for the whole flight and he told me all about himself!   He was born in 1925, so has literally seen the world change in almost every way!

Right after graduating high school, he and five friends were in a car accident.   His best friend, sitting right beside him had his skull crushed and died immediately.   Morris was in the middle and was the only one unhurt, so he was the one who dragged the other five out of the burning vehicle before help arrived.   As a result of the accident, he was the only one who was able to serve in the military and was drafted at the age of 18.   His mother (who had already seen one son go off to war) was distraught.   I asked him what it was like to be drafted.  Did they send someone to your door, did you get a notice in the mail?   He said, "You get a card that says, Greetings, You are needed by Uncle Sam" with a date and a bus stop where you are expected to report.

He was in the infantry, who were set to invade Japan, but then his brother's squadron dropped the A Bomb, making that no longer necessary.   He was then sent to Manila, Philippines where he was put into the medical corp.   This changed the course of his life.

With GE, he was involved in the development and implementation of some of the first CAT scans, EKGs and MRI machines.

He mentioned several times about how "lucky" he was to have survived various things that happened to him and how things had worked out for him.   I took that opportunity to bring up the Lord.  He stated that he was "very religious and had a lot to thank the good Lord for", but also said he "doesn't have much to apologize for" and has never got into bad habits with drugs, alcohol, smoking etc.    I got the impression, he figured he'd lived a good enough life to make it "if there's an afterlife, I think there is".    I asked if he was sure he was going to see Jesus when the time came and he said (though I doubt this is true), "I honestly haven't thought about it."   He was quiet for a minute and then said, "Well at the age of 90, I guess we'll know soon enough".  I said "Yup, so you'd better be sure!"   He got quiet after that, so I let it go, but he is heavy on my heart, so would you please pray with me for Morris, that he would come to know the Lord?

I arrived in Florida around 6 pm and went to pick up my rental car.   After turning down the agent and saying "No.  I'm not going to do it.  Don't ask me again," I somehow managed to still walk out of there, having upgraded my car to a Mustang as an early birthday present to myself =)  Haha!

Myrtle was thrilled to see me (as I was her!) and showed me to my room.  She calls it her "animal room"..

This is only a Fraction of the wild animal decor that is in there.   It was fun.  It had a king sized, Very comfy bed, so I was super comfortable during my stay! =)

While we had breakfast the next morning, this gopher tortoise was out on her patio, eating a piece of cornbread =)

Some pictures of the mustang: 

It was SO much fun to drive!

Myrtle's backyard was as gorgeous as I remembered (she had been out cutting the grass at 6:30 am the day before I arrived!)

Gorgeous lilies

My friend, Susan, met me in Myrtle's yard, so we could do a quick one year shoot of her little guy, Isaiah.

He's changed a bit since I did his newborn pictures! =)

What a cutie!

With his pretty Mama =)

For lunch I took Myrtle and our other awesome neighbor, Phil, out to Boathouse Landing, one of our favorite restaurants on the water.   We took the Mustang. =)

I had blackened red snapper with grilled shrimp, roasted veggies and rice pilaf - so delicious!

Beautiful day on the water!

When we got back, Myrtle lay on the couch and I got my laptop out and spent several hours, just asking her about her life and writing it down.   I wished I had done something like this with my own grandparents.  Myrtle doesn't have any kids or grand kids to pass on her stories, so I wanted to figure out a way to preserve them.  (*This will all be in a post about Myrtle).

After I took a short rest, I headed out, picked up a couple big bags of dog food and went to Danny's Doghouse to see Spunky!   I worried that she would remember me and think that I had come back for her! =0/

Danny and I both watched her when she came out and she seemed as happy to see me as she would have been to see anyone who would pet her.   She didn't freak out with excitement, so I don't think she knew who I was.

It was so fun to see her!   She has gotten CHUBBY!

That night, I met up with eleven of my friends at Pepper's for dinner.  What a fun evening!

Susan, Abby and her new baby, Gabriella!

Stephanie, Rachel and Robin

Me with Nicci and Danah

Tiffany and Terri

Amanda and Jen

The whole crew!

What a sweetheart!

Amanda and Robin

What a blessing that night was!   I So appreciated that each of them took time out of their busy lives to come spend time with me!  I was so energized, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep because I was so happy! =)

Saturday morning, I had a delicious breakfast with Kevin and Alaina and their kids.   We took a few family pictures, and then Alaina and I sat on the couch and caught up (as much as we could in our short time!)

Love this family so much!

They are moving in a few months, so I was So thankful to have been able to see them now!

My beautiful friend

When I did these twin's newborn pictures last year, I joked with Denise, their mom, that I would "have to fly back" to do their one year photo shoot because it would be so fun!   When I realized what dates Philip had booked my trip for, and that they turn one later this month, I was SO excited that we were able to work it out for me to do their shoot while I was in town! =)

Here is them a year ago (not even to their due date yet!)

...and here they are now! =)

Denise did Such a great job with their outfits and props, etc!

I had to have a comparison shot to the last time I saw them...


With Denise and Mary Edith right after the shoot (it's handy having friends that live next door to each other!)

I figured I couldn't be that close to the Gulf and not actually see it, so after the shoot, I drove over there and put my feet in the sand and walked along the water...

Sonic and Sand, Aaahhh....

The fact that we moved from this place and are Totally happy in Kansas...is proof of just how perfectly the Lord has crafted our new life here for us =)

I really didn't realize how much I missed the area until I came back

Saturday afternoon, I walked across the street to our old house and met the new owner!   Her husband was out of town, but she was super sweet (very close to my age, maybe younger).   She even invited me in and showed me the whole house!   How fun!!   They hadn't changed much...painted one room and the accent walls in the living room.   It was really cool to chat with her about the house and the neighbors, and to meet their two huge dogs.  One is a huge German Shepherd and the other is a Rottweiler/Pit Bull cross!  They are actually both really sweet!  I told her how awesome Myrtle is and hope that she develops a relationship with her.

For dinner that night (at my request), Myrtle made her famous biscuits, baked in a cast iron pan.   Oh.My. Goodness.  Heavenly!    We had them with butter and honey, paired with eggs and bacon.   I ate waay too much and thanked her a million times!  So good! =)

After dinner, she sat on the couch with her guitar and played every song she could remember (I did a bunch of video), and I just got to listen.   She is quite a talented guitar player and I so enjoyed hearing her play and sing.

The next morning I was up at 4am, and despite my asking her not to get up, she was up to say goodbye.    I hated to leave, but the goodbye wasn't Nearly as painful this time for either of us as the last one was.    I told her that we would love to have her come visit us in Kansas, and asked if she would consider flying here with me sometime.   She didn't say no, so I'm hoping! =)

I went there this weekend, hoping to be a blessing to her... but it was I who came away blessed.   What an honor it is to know Myrtle and to call her my friend!

Thank you Philip for planning this trip for me and for taking time off of work to spend special time with the kids all weekend!   I am one blessed woman!


The Woodfords said...

Oh, Joia, that is so special! So glad for you (and Myrtle) that you had the opportunity to and have that time with her!

Love you!

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

How wonderful! Will add all of these people to my prayer list.

Mark and Rebekah said...

Oh Joia! SO MANY precious memories! I'm so glad you were able to go back and visit, and happy that this made you realize how happy you are in Kansas. What a special visit with Myrtle too! I love that you wrote down her life stories... And I hope she DOES come visit you!
I loved reading this post!

Mom E said...

I had tears in my eyes as I read this. Seeing this brought back so many memories of visiting you & all your friends there; and So happy that you got this time with Myrtle & Phil & that you were intentional about making this happen. She is one of the sweetest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. I can't wait to see the post about her. I had no clue she played guitar.

Loved the Mustang!! Seeing spunky so chunky was fun too. :)