Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I Remember Florida

It's been a rough few days or so. I really do suffer this long grey winter time. I pine for palm trees and that special smell in Florida when you first arrive, kind of floral and fresh airy. My father used to say it was all the orange blossoms or citrus trees. They smell wonderful that's all I know and I pine for that. My father did too that last winter of his life. My mother could have cared. Florida to her just meant distance from the kids and grandchildren and when she was young enough to enjoy but old enough to have grandchildren she and Dad were in Florida from October until May. She missed every major holiday except 4th of July and Labor Day. Not good. From the time I was 10 or so we would go to Florida in December. We would be there for Christmas and New Year's and be back right after the 1st of the year. My older brother and I would be taken out of school for that time, oh, we would bring all the books and assignments with us and do some schoolwork during each week day but we would be FREE!, not only free but in a new place with sun and ocean and sand and out to eat a lot. We stayed at a small motel in Hollywood Beach. It sat across the street from the beach and there was nothing across the street but beach. The motel was a 2 story courtyard type with a pool in the middle and on the beach side there was a small restaurant/lounge type thing which served breakfast and lunch and then had entertainment in the evenings when the bar really opened. It was called the Holiday Beach Resort and a family ran it and lived there as well. We went there for years and stayed in two adjoining rooms. One room where my parents stayed had a sitting area that turned into a bedroom and it also had a kitchenette where we would have breakfast and lunch each day. The adjoining room had two double beds and there my brother and I would stay.

Each year the same families would return and we developed friendships with the kids out of necessity. There were no other sources of companions. Every day was very similar. We would sit by the pool in our swimsuits. I would bring schoolwork with me and between swims in the pool I would finish an assignment or two. My brother would show off his diving skills much to every one's awe and appreciation. My parents would sit in the sun with us and socialize with the others. It was one of the longest stretches of time ever that we got to see my Dad. He would be working if we were home. December was always the slump time for his business and he owned his own so he could take off now that my oldest brother was able to watch the place. My oldest brother was married with children and worked at the family business so this December thing was heaven to my folks. The main problem was, of course, it was Christmas. My mother was in emotional pain for the entire time. What are the grandchildren doing? She missed my brother and his wife. She loved them all very much and so did we but, we were not the mother and grandmother. She was really torn since she never had my father for such a long stretch, we never went out when at home and here we were going out to dinner EVERY night. Oh, we didn't go to fine dining rooms, we went to family cafeterias which were abundant back then and affordable as was the motel. I have a notebook Mother kept that lists all the expenses and let me tell you they were few and small. We went out though and the four of us and sometimes a single Uncle who lived in Hollywood, and sometimes a group from the motel, whatever the combination, we all enjoyed ourselves enormously.

Eventually, my older brother stayed home and worked with the oldest brother and it was just the three of us. We would still meet and greet and sit by the pool. When I was in college I would still spend the holiday break with my parents in Hollywood Beach. Many of the same people would be there minus the kids sometimes. We would go out to dinner and often during the day, since I was old enough, we would go to the track and there, we would run into some of the regulars as well. My Dad seemed to know everyone and my Mother would complain that he could talk anyone's ears off but hers. Now that's a global female complaint.

I miss that; Florida, family, acquaintances, the smell of Florida and the warm sun and beach, and family and friends, and family and palm trees, and. . . . sigh...............

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