Rebecca and I went down to Florida last Thursday. We surprised my mom for her 70th birthday, and the surprise went off without a hitch. Rebecca and I hid in the restroom of the restaurant where mom and my step-dad were to meet my sister and her family. When they got in and got settled, we came out of the bathroom singing Happy Birthday, and the rest of the family joined in. Mom had her back to us, and turned around smiling (she thought it was the wait staff singing...), and then her eyes grew wide as she realized who we were. Big hugs all around, and then we had a great dinner and laughed and talked. Rebecca actually did a little video of the surprise part, but I was having trouble loading it so will try to do that again later. It's kind of funny, but I think mostly mom will appreciate it.
Timing worked out so that we were able to attend my nephew's graduation from high school the next day. It was a long afternoon, but worth it to see his face when he saw us all up there together supporting him. Then out for another great dinner.
During this time Rebecca and I stayed at my sister's home in Deland, FL. She and her husband are going through some tough times financially, but are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. They'll come out just fine, I'm confident. They have one more child to graduate, next year, and then will be empty-nesters. Wow.
On Saturday, my sister and her husband had more company come, in the form of his brother along with his wife and their daughter and new son-in-law. Along with a niece who had arrived the same day we did, this made for a nice little family get-together/get to know each other gathering. Lots of food, drink, and laughter ensued. Then Rebecca and I went back to mom's to spend the night. We enjoyed breakfast out with them, and then I spent an hour or so by the pool before getting ready for the trip home.
All in all, it was a great weekend of family and fun. The only real damper was when I spoke with my brother on Saturday afternoon. I was able to get more information regarding the distressing situation between he and my sister-in-law. While it is too personal to go into here, I will say that he is truly suffering and hurting right now. His wife has isolated herself from her own family and will not discuss anything with them. In spite of my brother giving her, free and clear, a house, $20,000, and full medical coverage for her mounting health problems, she is determined to get more, and to insist on pushing him into lifestyle changes he has made clear he wants no part of. Hence, the arguing that led to her filing for a restraining order against him. He has never harmed his wife, never lifted a hand to her. But she is desperate, and is resorting to desperate measures. Despite her recent actions, he is still willing to give her more money and make sure her medical care is taken care of, but she seems bent on pushing for a divorce and getting even more out of him. It is a bad situation, and not likely to get better any time soon. My heart breaks for my brother, and for my sister-in-law, and we all feel helpless as they struggle through this.