Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Dot does in Ft. Myers Beach, stays in...NOT!


My Mom!  My crazy wonderful wacky Dot!

I knew it would be tough to enter your Powder Blue Palace after just saying goodbye at the airport.  I took a deep breath, opened the door, looked for you at the table, and couldn’t breathe. It hurt that bad.
I grabbed my phone and tearfully dialed Nick James for some emergency cheering up.  He reminded me that I go through this every time we part, and his advice is always the same.  “Sit down, have yourself a good long cry, and then cheer yourself up with all the memories.”
And OH BOY did we make some memories this year!

Gary had the RV decorated with a beautiful flowering bromeliad and tacky flamingo palm tree lights (his Christmas present from Jon and Jaci) for the start of Dotfest 2013.  This immediately turned in to Foodfest 2013 when you received a “Welcome to Fort Myers Lobstergram” from Cuzzin Debbie and Mike. 
Can you still taste the delectable crab cakes, crab claws, lobster claws, and jumbo shrimp? The three of us had such fun evenings planning what to eat next!

You said you wanted nothing more than to sit on the patio each day and “soak it all up.” I loved hearing you shout “HI!” to all the park passersby. No one is a stranger to my Dot! But you know what I loved the most of the quiet days we spent together? Singing along together to the romantic oldies on that great radio station we found.  I hadn’t heard you sing in a long time and that memory will always warm my heart.
 As happy hour approached each day, the continuous parade of Ebb Tide friends began.  You must have been really ticked that I told RC you couldn’t have your highball until you finished a red solo cup of water first! She never let you forget it, did she?   It was so great to watch you sitting in the afternoon sun with such wonderful friends, laughing about anything and everything. 

Did I mention quiet days?  Well, there was NOTHING quiet about Sundays!  Gary would wake you up shouting “It’s Sunday Mom!” And you would shout back “DEK DAY!”. Who would have thought that you would get such a kick out of a local biker bar? We started going there for the $10.00 pitcher and pizza deal, but you had more fun listening to the roar of the Harleys and watching the camaraderie of their riders! What better way to spend the day, hanging out with Shirley and Bill, listening to Tequila Tom on the guitar, eating pizza, and sucking down Mimosas, huh? But this last Sunday, in front of Cuzzin Debbie and Mike, you took it a whole new level. We have to keep re-watching the video Debbie took of you climbing on the back of a Harley to believe it really happened. OMG Mom!

January flew by and soon it was time for the arrival of The Golden Child!  Wasn’t it great for him to visit for an entire week, and have him all to yourself for three days while we were in Key West?  We almost didn’t want to go to Key West; you two had so much fun planned! But first we had fun at the Ebb Tide pool party.  David got to meet all of your friends and see how Snowbirds rock out an afternoon!
We had a tough act to follow when he departed. Going to see Gatlin not once but twice?  Going to the Beach Pub to sit with your feet in the sand?  Did you really participate in a Walker Race?  After about the fourth or fifth “I miss my David” comment you made the day he left, I sent him a text joking that you were starting to annoy me, but I felt the same way.

How will we ever forget the Ebb Tide Horse Races?  It was hard to imagine how it all worked until we got there and you and your boyfriend Mikey jumped into the first race!  Everyone was laughing as he pushed your wheelchair to the next space upon each roll of the dice.  You didn’t win that race, but you won the next two you were in, and we all cheered as you crossed the finish line.  That’s my Mom!

Next performance by you and Mikey was the water balloon battle at our third pool party of the season.  Was that really my Mom giddily throwing water balloons at the most handsome man in the pool? I shouldn’t have been surprised. 

Speaking of pool parties, our last one didn’t go so well, did it?  You were not thrilled with Bill when he slid over to the table next to us, where two younger women were sitting.  As we were leaving, you looked back over your shoulder and in a disgusted tone snarled “See ya later Bill!” Then promptly wheeled away, whispering to Vicki “Men are so fickle.” 

You and Bill made up in a hurry when he offered to take us on a sightseeing adventure to Sanibel and Captiva Islands.  He was such an excellent chauffeur and tour guide, telling stories of his times spent there.  The grand finale was lunch at the Lazy Flamingo, where we slurped the best oysters ever.  What a great day we had.

Gary and I loved having you supervise us as we worked on Tessa projects at our dock.  Our boat neighbor Tom was quite taken with you and soon became overprotective, in my opinion.  Just because I left you in the Jeep for a few minutes (well maybe ten or fifteen) one day while waiting for Mother Nature to decide to rain or not, he claimed it was abusive.  “Did you at least leave the windows cracked?” he demanded to know. “Did she have any fluids?” Caring neighbors are overrated.

videoAnd now, the GRAND FINALLY OF MEMORIES!  Gary and I ran into a Charter Fishing Captain at Lani Kai happy hour, and before one drink was consumed, you were goin fishing!  Secretly we were all hoping that you caught a fish.  At least one fish.



He assured us that you could step right onto his pontoon boat, no problem. Gary had to work that day, so your bestest friends Tom and Barb came along.

Captain Greg casts our lines toward the dock pilings searching for Sheepshead.  Before my line made it in the water, you snagged the first keeper of the day.  “Yea Dot!” everyone cheered.  Then you caught another and another.  Dot 3, Lori 0. 

Next we went further out in the bay and began drifting for any variety of fish, with Mackerel being the most desirable catch.  Tom and Barb took turns reeling fish in.  Tom, Barb, Dot, lots of fish, Lori 0.
Before I had a chance to redeem myself, Captain announced last drift.  I heard him whisper disappointedly to Tom “I really wanted Dot to tangle with a Mackerel.” 

“WHOA!!!” you screamed as your body did a quick 90 degree turn.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZING went your drag! 

“REEL IN!” Captain Greg shouted to Tom, Barb, and I as he fired up the outboard to turn the boat toward the direction your whopper was swimming.  Away you cranked, laughing with determination.  Slowly he began to rise to the surface, Captain Greg dipped the net expertly under the thrashing fish, and you had landed a two foot long Spanish Mackerel! With a little help from Dad coaching from above, David said when he saw the picture.

We celebrated with a fish fry to feed the masses of Ebb Tide and you basked in the glory of still being the queen of the rod.  I was so proud of you my fishermother!

One evening Gary was working late, so you and I joined the Ebb Tiders at Parrot Key for Happy Hour.  The hour turned into hours as we celebrated together, and it began to feel chilly.  I ran back here to the RV for your jacket, and as I approached the Parrot Key entrance, I had to do a double take.  You were on the dance floor with Danny! I believe the last time you danced was at Amy’s wedding. “Oh Danny, I hope you are holding on tight” I prayed.  By the time I caught up, you were slow dancing with Dano.  At that point my phone rang with Gary’s usual check in to see if we needed anything as he headed home.  “Just get home fast Honey!” I pleaded.  “I have lost total control of this situation!”
Gary hightailed it to Parrot Key in time to wheel you home as you sang “GET DOWN TONIGHT!” all the way to the RV and all the way to bed. We just shook our heads in wonder.  Where did THAT come from?
Just this past week, you were over at Dano and RC’s visiting, when Danny showed up at our door asking “Can we take Dottie to Parrot Key for Happy Hour?” I groaned and told Gary “You go. I’ve had enough!”
  All too quickly the days of March ticked by toward your departure, and way too soon, it was time to plan your farewell happy hour. We invited your closest friends Tom and Barb, Dano and RC, and Danny.  At 4:00 sharp, they were all here.  And then came two more neighbors carrying lawn chairs.  And then two more.  By the time Gary pulled up from work, he exclaimed “Wow!” There were twenty chairs in a big circle, everyone talking and laughing at once,  in honor of YOU!  You announced you were going out with a bang, and that you did!  Lots of tears and hugs later, everyone departed….but returned Friday morning for one final farewell as you climbed into the Jeep.

We were confident you would be perfectly fine flying the two hour non-stop trip to Columbus, but it is always stressful to deal with airports.  Security went fine, next stop ladies room. There was an announcement that a ladies hat with a blue flower was left at security.  Ooops! “Mom, you stay here and finish up and I’ll run back to security” I said as I hustled away, grabbed the hat, and ran back.  Now we were very short on time before boarding.  I opened the door and said “we have to hurry” and out we went when I suddenly realized that you were pushing your own wheelchair instead of sitting in it! OK, I guess I was more nervous than I thought!  But we laughed all the way to the gate!

The attendant came to take you and another lady to the gate and I stopped him with a request.  “Jerry, could you please advise the flight attendants that Mom can have no more than five drinks on this flight?”  Laughter erupted around us. Then he was wheeling you away from me.  As I was desperately trying not to sob out loud, I heard you say to the other wheelchair lady “Wanna race?”

Race on, Mom!  Race on!