Monday, December 14, 2009

Cali Trip Journal Part 3 of 3

Day 7 - Reason to be Thankful - Family

A few months ago, we learned that my Uncle Sonny had throat cancer. He found out about it when a lump formed on the side of his throat. The doctors told him that it was Stage 3 Cancer. They would put him on aggressive chemo and radiation treatment and he'd either have 4 months to live or 4 months of recovery. The treatment took my uncle to the brink of death, as close as the doctors could get him to it without killing him.

While on the trip, Uncle Sonny called us to say that he was cancer free. He has lost a lot of weight and has no sense of taste, but he's alive and cancer free. So many reasons to celebrate and offer thanks during Thanksgiving.

When we arrived to my uncle’s house, I saw Mom and Uncle Sonny go into the kitchen area. After a little while, I asked if I could take a picture of them. Mom had tears in her eyes as she said, "Now that everything is OK, I can cry." I had to leave the room, because I was getting teary-eyed too. I couldn't hug my uncle enough during the visit.

It was a much needed visit, with my uncle and aunt and cousins and their families. My uncle and aunt showed us around their home, pointing out various treasures ~ such as the three Chinese figurines. If you see the picture where Mom is standing next to them, the one to the far-left stands for Wisdom, the one in the middle for Prosperity and the one to the right for Longevity. The order of the figures symbolizes the priority.

There was also a Chinese art writing on the wall and Greg asked Aunt Sophia what it meant. She explained that it was about friendship. How friendship is a slow moving stream, not stopped by pebbles or distance.

Uncle Sonny, Aunt Sophia, Will, Brenda, Meagan, Ashley, Billy, Sonny Boy ~ all live on the same property, but in two different homes, the second one a recent renovation for Will and his wife and three kids. I was impressed with Brenda's style as she designed the renovations. I loved how she decorated for Thanksgiving.

I enjoyed reconnecting with my cousin and getting to know his family better. It was later that I recalled Mom telling me about Will being an EMT in the past. It was interesting to hear about his experiences, the distance he had to take with some of the sites he saw, yet know his compassion as well.

I never really had the opportunity in the past to get to know Sonny Boy until now. He's very sweet natured, sincere and smart. There's a gentle side to him that I respect and believe in. I think he has a good future ahead of him and I want that for him, to know the value of family.

Mom would tell me about their on-goings when she spoke with her brother on the phone, but it's different to have the opportunity to catch up, face-to-face. They are good people, with kindness. And Brenda ~ she has a spark of "I'm calling it like I see it" that made me laugh. As our parents played Canasta (of course), we enjoyed conversations ranging from computer games to life changes to children.

At one point, Roda picked up Ashley and walked into another room. Will looked at Rob and said, "She's ready, Rob." We all laughed. Rob said, "The kids are taken with Roda." Greg said, "I think it's that Roda is taken with the kids!" hehe.

Oh and the Rottweiler ~ I was shocked to see such a horse of a dog be that gentle. Though Greg could horse around and get her riled up.

For lunch, Uncle Sonny and Aunt Sophia took us to China Bistro. Actually, it was like a little China area where you see regular businesses with the English AND Chinese language of businesses. Our aunt ordered for us and oh my gosh, what a treat! China Bistro is authentic Cantonese Chinese food from steak to chicken to bok choy to orange fish and eggplant. This food put the typical "Chinese food" to shame! It was here, at age 65 that Mom learned how to use chopsticks. It was so cute to see brother teaching sister. I was proud of Mom for learning (whereas, yes, I still use fork and knife)

That afternoon, R&R, Greg and I went to the Tar Pit. And it smelled like it too.. with green bubbles coming up. The green kind of freaked me out. The museum was open and we took a tour through it. It was something else to see what they had fished out of the pit. Right there in the middle of Los Angeles. I'd recommend it, but only if you had time for the museum.

Afterwards, Greg brought us to Hollywood Blvd where we saw the Hollywood star signs on the street. Rob said, "The Boulevard wasn't nearly as impressive as New York City" but it was an experience. Greg drove around, because we couldn't find a parking place while R&R and I walked the area. I wish he could have been there with me, but he was sweet to think I'd want to go there and I do appreciate it. We took some pictures and went to the Chinese Theater where there are molded footprints and handprints from the likes of Shirley Temple to Mel Gibson.

All in all, a full day! Oh! And we did see the "Hollywood" sign up in the mountains, but my camera battery had gone kaput by then.

Day 8 - Thanksgiving Day

I remember posting on my blog, asking for positive thoughts and prayers for my Uncle Sonny. I want to thank you for that. My uncle said that he felt the outpouring of love and support and it helped him. I could see how much more ~ life ~ means to my uncle, to treasure the important things.

Sadly, R&R had to leave before the Thanksgiving supper, because Rob came down with a bad cold and his throat was hurting. I don't think he adjusted well to the low humidity and cooler temperatures. (It played games with my sinuses as well, but thankfully I didn't get sick.)

R&R were a source of giving laughter that morning at our relative’s home. When we arrived to our aunt and uncle's home, Aunt Sophia was saying, "I put the pots and cooking utensils in the oven for storage. Sonny turned on the oven to heat it up for the meal and I didn't know he did this. The plastic on the handle started to smell up the house and Sonny said, "Sophia, it's Your Fault!" I told Sonny that I was going to tell his sister that he blamed me!" We laughed.

Then, Roda said, "Oh! I know where Rob gets it from! Yesterday, Rob said "My zipper was down all yesterday and he blamed me, said it was my fault!" Uncle Sonny's expression was PRICELESS! We busted out laughing and Uncle Sonny said, "From now on, we'll call him Ever Ready Rob!" I don't know how many shades of red Rob could turn, but he did a few for sure. Do you guess it? This is the Third thing on the “Wife Duties” that Roda learned – be sure her hubby’s zipper is up, which from that point forward, she’d check every now and then and everyone would laugh.

I wish R&R had been able to stay for the meal, because our uncle gave a loving and gracious toast to life and family and how much it means to him. It wasn't just our side of the family, but also our aunt’s side that came as well ~ how wonderful to spend the time with everyone.

It was a Thanksgiving to remember and special that we could share it with my California relatives. Miss Ya'll!

Day 9 - Drive back to Vegas

The Interstate was clear and going smooth but then we came to a stop. Not a slow down. A stop. Looking ahead and curved around the mountain, it appeared all three lanes were closed by the police because of an accident with a big rig. Fortunately, it didn't take much time to clear up... I took some zoom pictures on my camera so everyone could see what was going on while we waited.

Ah, Vegas. Before the trip started, Dad said, "I booked another performance." I groaned, “Not another performance!” But man, oh man, am I ever glad that Dad did! A trip to the MGM to see ~ "Ka" - a Cirque du Soleil performance.. Greg described it with one word, "EXPLOSIVE!"

It was freaking unbelievable! It was beautiful, creative from the get go. The way each part was done ~ it was artwork in motion and so darn believable that you had to remind yourself that the boat wasn't really rocking on water, that the water wasn't real and the people weren't swimming as you held your breath... and that the birds weren't created by five people attached together and flying... and the fight scenes - out of this world amazing! They also had shadow puppets that... you were laughing and then in awe, because HANDS made those images come to life, HANDS....Fantastic.. explosive, yes, the word of the day.. very appropriate as they shot Fireworks in the end... in a closed-in theater. A performance that is a memory maker, for sure. I wish I could describe it well enough, but if you are ever in Vegas – this is a MUST SEE!!!

From there, we went to Bellagio and watched the light/water show. I could stay there for all night and watch the water dance, but... it was getting cold and late. I'm glad that Greg and I were together; it was romantic. Lovely way to end the day after such a rocking performance.

Day 10 ~ Caesar’s Palace

For brunch, we went to Caesar’s Palace. It was totally renovated from the years and years ago that I last saw it. The place is huge but the buffet, still the best that is in town. It started with breakfast (from omelets to steak) and then early lunch came out, including Sushi and Lobster (to which, Rob had his fill and then some hehe)

I didn't do this trip justice for detail, in the ways I have in the past. But the pictures tell the story, if you go to my Picasa site, you'll get a better "view" of the trip.

On so many levels, this trip was needed, from seeing family, to wonderful experiences to treasure to getting away from the stresses at work…

Thank you, Mom and Dad. We never could have gone on the trip and had all those experiences and went to all the performances... if not for your generosity. I remember going to San Francisco years and years ago and enjoying it then.. those years ago ~ I had a wish to return there again to share the romance too.

Thank you for making that wish come true for me and Greg ~ and for the memories, the smiles and your love.

Cali Trip - Part 1

Cali Trip - Part 2


Ugich Konitari said...

Aleta, I have enjoyed your travelogue so much. And what I appreciate much more is the fact that despite being of different ages and interests, you guys do these family trips, and enjoy so much together. Sothern California is possibly the one place I have lived in a lot ( at UCI) when I was younger and a few trips now, and it was nice reading about your trip there.....

Lisa said...

I loved reading about your trip. I lived in San Francisco, have been to LA many times, and just went to Vegas last year. Now I feel like I just went back to all those places. Thank you! What a great trip for all of you.

septembermom said...

I'm glad to hear that your uncle is cancer free. What wonderful family memories you have shared here. I love the ease in your writing style as you write about your adventures with your family. It's a pleasure to read.

The pictures are always great too!

kavi said...

Seems like a swell trip and a swell place to be in too !

So glad to have met a cancer survivor through your blog !

My best wishes and prayers go out to you !

The Forscheins said...

Very sweet post with a sweet ending! I love it. Great that your uncle is cancer free now. What a fabulous Thanksgiving!!

Debbie said...

What a trip! I'm so happy about your Uncle Sonny. That is reason to celebrate.

LaurAyn said...

Glad you had such a good time! :)

Joanna said...

Wow! You guys had quite the adventure. Glad you had a good time with family.

Vikki North said...

Hi aleta,
Just wanted to stop by and say Happy Holidays to you and Greg.

Wonderful adventure.