After packing up our 15 passenger van and decorating it with window paint - we set off on our road trip. The weekend proved tenuous especially when you are dealing with 11 people with different personalities, likes and dislikes. I often felt like I was walking on eggshells, so as not to cause any commotion, but overall, I had a really good time. Friday night before the graduation ceremony, we all went out to dinner at a cute little place called Dutch Pantry Family Restaurant. Dinner was homemade and delicious and my sister surprised Brandon with a birthday cake. Next was our hour ride to Penn State (yep, an hour. The closer hotels were triple the amount AND sold out a year in advance!). We attended the "reception" which was nice and it allowed my nephew the opportunity to meet up with his friends and professors and gave my sister good photo ops.
Graduation was on Friday night and it was VERY emotional. In the near capacity auditorium, there was one empty seat next to me the entire night. I just kept thinking that Mike was supposed to be there with me. It also seemed like yesterday when Mike and I honed our babysitting skills on my niece and nephew and now here he was graduating from college. Before I know it, it will be Courtney and Brandon up there.
The next day we got a tour of Penn State's campus and walked A LOT!!! Saturday evening, my sister and her family took us all out to dinner to celebrate the graduation, and ironically, it was a a restaurant that Mike and I and the kids had gone to years before. You see, the hotel we stayed at was in this little town of Clearfield. It was Clearfield where Mike and I took the kids for about 4 years in a row to visit one of Courtney's friends from the neighborhood who had moved to PA. It was in Clearfield when I first noticed a problem with Mike. Here we were, 9 years later, back in the place where our future took a horrible turn. It was eerie and more emotional than I had ever expected. It was here that Mike asked, "so where is Courtney, anyway?" and the following year (2001) was the last year we visited her friends.
Despite the craziness that travelling with 11 people (2 of which were senior citizens) brings, we laughed alot and had so much fun. More memories were made.
Coming home was another story. Our 3 hour car ride turned into almost 5 1/2 due to horrific traffic on the NJ Tpke. It was extremely frustrating knowing that I couldn't go anywhere, and I had Mike home waiting for us. I called 4 different friends to see if anyone could come to the house to sit while Mike was sleeping so that the aide could leave, but no one was available. I felt SO BAD that the aide was at our home since Thursday, and she was stuck sitting there just waiting for us to get out of the mess on the Tpke. She lives in Queens and she takes public transportation. She wound up only getting home at 1am on Monday morning (we finally reached home at 10pm).
I got home to find out that Mike had developed a fever on Sunday and he was congested. His aide didn't tell me because she did not want me to worry. I haven't slept in another 2 days since I've been home, because Mike has been up alot. He also developed 3 bed sores while we were away. NO ONE is going to tell me that he is NOT aware when we are around. He made it QUITE OBVIOUS that he knew we were back and he has since been doing better.
You can be sure that this will be my last trip for quite some time.