Going Home!

The last few months have literally flown by…actually, the last year seems to have come and gone in a matter of moments. We’ve spent a little over three months here in La Cruz preparing for the Puddle Jump to the South Pacific later this month. There have been numerous projects and preparations since our arrival but one important thing for both Dan and I was getting home to see our families before we depart. With his family on the West Coast and mine on the East, it’s quite a task. As much as we both would have liked to visit each place, time simply did not allow it so I headed back home to Florida in January and after I returned, Dan took off for California.

It had been nine months since I’d been home and my mother consistently asked when I was going to make it back. Each time I’d tell her, “I don’t know but we are working on it.” One afternoon as I was talking with her she said she had a dream that she went to the door and there I stood. She got a little emotional telling me that. Of course, the Hasty women do have a tendency to get a little sentimental at times. Anyhow, it was that day when I began to hatch my plan.

Since time was moving so quickly I had to finally give her a date of my arrival. What she didn’t know is that I told her I was coming in on a Thursday when I was actually arriving that Tuesday! Of course Dan kept warning me that at mom’s age this surprise could result in a heart attack but I decided to do it anyway.

My dear friends, Connie and Jay, picked me up at Tampa International Airport late in the evening on Tuesday. They are two of the greatest friends you could ever have. They are always the ones who pick me up or drop me off and unfortunately the flights to Puerto Vallarta are never at convenient times. But, God bless them, they never fail to be there.

~Ricky2It was truly wonderful to see my friends after so long. We talk on the phone often but to be able to chat face to face is the best. And, these are the amazing people who adopted my dog, Lyla and my cat, Ricky T. McHopper, Bigfoot, Bushy Tail, Stink Butt, Silver Streak, Love Kabob, Green Monster, Schnadoodler, Big Kahuna, Fuzzy Footed Sleepster with the bright eyes. Yeah…he hates signing that name! Anyway, they adopted these loves of my life and have given them an amazing home. Since my plan arrived so late we went back to their house where I spent the night. We would surprise Mama in the morning.

~LylaWhen we arrived at their house they had me open the door. Lyla came running around the corner, looked up at me and literally stopped in her tracks. It took her a couple of seconds to realize it was really me standing there and then she went nuts. Lyla is part Hound Dog, part Labrador and she can get up a nice little howl when she’s wants to. It was truly awesome to hear her voice again. She and I had been through a lot in the seven years I had her. I was just happy she remembered who I am. Now, Ricky, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as happy to see me. I had to seek him out. It didn’t matter though…I was with my babies and my best friends.

The following morning we got up, had coffee on the back patio overlooking the Manatee River and then got ready for the big surprise. The plan was that we would go to Mom’s and Jay would go to the door. He’d tell her Connie had an accident and he wanted to show her what she did to the car. We would be standing in the driveway waiting. Well, you know what they say, “If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Mom wasn’t home! Fortunately I still have my key so Jay moved the car to the neighbor’s house, we let ourselves in, made a cocktail and waited. It’s rare that Mom goes out for long and everyone knew I was going to surprise her so they wouldn’t have invited her out that day. She always parks the care in the garage so we were certain we’d hear the garage door go up, but, we were wrong. Here we were sitting in her living room and all of the sudden we hear her hand not he doorknob. I almost knocked Connie down trying to get out of her line of sight.

Now Mom wouldn’t think a thing about Jay or Connie being there. Jay is consistently coming over to help her with things. So he just stood up while Connie and I race to the kitchen doorway. We waited until she opened then door and out I popped! I can’t remember ever seeing my mother so surprised. I wish we had gotten the first couple of seconds on video because it was priceless but here’s a clip of what we did get.


As long as I live I will never forget the look on her face when she saw me. Needless to say, the surprise was a complete success!

Of course what does one do after surprising their mother? Head to Duffy’s Tavern for a burger and some beers, of course. Now if you ever get to Bradenton, Florida you HAVE to stop here. They are on Anna Maria Island and Peggy, the owner, is awesome. I promise you will not be disappointed. We’ve been going here since her mother owned it in the early 70’s and there is no place better on the island!

Mom, Connie, Jay and I had a wonderful afternoon. It was truly wonderful to be back with my family and friends again.

From that point on my trip seemed to fly by. My sister, Julie, came down from Palm Coast for the weekend and we celebrated my great nephew’s second birthday. There were lunches, dinners, parties and get togethers. When you’ve lived someplace for so long you know everyone and it’s really hard to see them all in the space of a week but I certainly tried!

Friends of ours on Delta Swizzler went home over the holidays and I learned of a great idea from them. I set up a day and time that I would be at a local pub and put the word out. This way, anyone who really wanted to see me could pop in and we’d have a few drinks together. This worked out great and kept me from doing any additional running about. Honestly, being there was exhausting!

I was fortunate that I was able to see the most important people and pets in my life while I was there and I got to spend a great deal of time with Mom. We had a truly wonderful visit and before I knew it the time had gone and I was leaving.

As I said earlier we are a tiny bit sentimental in our family so I was prepared for a bucket full of tears the morning I left. After all, it will be a long time before I see my mother again. Interestingly enough there were just a few. I think Mom probably shed a few more after I left but she held tough in front of me. Thanks Mom!

Jilly & Dan La CruzOne thing I realized while I was there is that Bradenton is no longer my home. To some degree I felt like a stranger there. Sure I have lots of friends and family and it was terrific to see them but the entire time I was there I was thinking of how much I wanted to be back on Dazzler with Dan. This is where my home is now and I couldn’t be happier!

Until next time…



Author: Dan & Jilly

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