I only thought my story was a two-parter. Welcome to Part Three. And I can’t guarantee there won’t be more.
I thought my previous caregiving post was one and done. Of course not. How silly of me. Why would I think we could get away with just one ambiguous diagnosis? Two were the order of the day. “The PET scan indicated a small spot on your liver. Since you aren’t presenting with typical symptoms, we don’t know what this is,” we were told by the oncologist. Reactions? Knees buckling and nausea for Jim; denial for me. “F#%@ it, let’s go to a movie,” I implored.
Yes, climb into a car and actually drive to a movie theater. Not just content ourselves with sitting on the sofa in our PJs controlling our viewership by pausing, stopping, and starting the movie as we see fit. The stress of going out to a movie and having to be there at a precise time is not a pastime Jim and I have found altogether relaxing. It has been two and a half years since I’ve queued up in an outside line to purchase movie tickets. Yes, I know, we too were once proponents of purchasing tickets in advance via our Fandango app. But we would have been required to create an account at which point we would have been told we already had an account. “And what, pray tell, is the username and password?” the app would have demanded. Who could remember? Certainly not me. I’m also certain the credit card attached to the account would have expired. No, thank you. Since we were going to a 3:40 pm movie, we decided to go old school and stand in line. Except there is no longer an outside line. No heads and torsos visible in that line of ticket boxes strung across the front exterior.
“Tickets are purchased at the concession stand,” a helpful sign instructed. Smart move. Since we were already in line, we might as well buy a diet coke, popcorn, and a bag of min-snickers bars.
The next surprise? We were one of only two couples seated in the theater. Of course, the hour had something to do with this scarcity. Who in the world can go to the movies in the middle of a weekday? Retired people, that’s who. I’m really growing to appreciate the advantages of early movies and early dining.
We watched six previews. The sound was so huge. The visuals on the vast screen were fabulously engaging. And, oh my gosh, the snickers bars were excruciatingly satisfying. I had not had one since Halloween of 2019. The feature was Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, based upon an Agatha Christy novel by the same name. The movie was only available in theaters. The paddle boat on the fake Nile was reminiscent of the one we took five years ago touring the Mekong River in Vietnam. The sight transported us back to a lighter, more carefree time. A welcome respite.
Following the movie (and the popcorn and snicker bars) our consolation tour took us to Hillstone restaurant. Hillstone (formerly Houston’s) is situated on the banks of Lake Killarney. A dock juts out into the lake for easy access to the occasional sea plane that lands or boater who motors over. It has a vegetable garden where the breezes disperse the aroma of freshly sprouted herbs from patron to patron enjoying sunset over the water from their Adirondack chairs.
Somehow this place, and its expensive price tag, is our family’s designated spot for celebrations and consolation. It’s a must stop on our children’s Orlando itineraries when they come to town. Even in-laws are all in for a Hillstone experience. So, we laughed and talked, enjoying the lake breezes and the herons hunting for food.
It was a four-hour respite from worry. Of course, when we awoke the next morning, the anxiety gnats were busy boring into our psyches. But we found ourselves in a stronger, mentally refreshed state to confront those little toxic boogers. We took a mini-vacation. Adventures and vacations don’t always have to be big and bold. Adventures come in many sizes and forms and help us feel carefree, even for brief spurts of time.
Hopefully, this will be the epilogue for what has been a stressful few months. Thanks for your patience and support. I hope a mini-vacation can work for you.