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April Birthdays in the Air... 5/7/2019
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After all the excitement of our eldest son’s Palm Springs wedding in March, this month brought us back to earth…sort of. We set aside the first weekend in April for the celebration of my husband’s birthday, taking us to Nashville, TN! The other part of his wish was to have his best high school buddies join us there. And so it was that Bill and Shirley, from Atlanta, and Dale and Cece, from Raleigh, NC, also flew into Music City for the occasion on Friday the 5th.

Whether performing with Jim at The Ryman, at the TPAC, or at The Schermerhorn with The Nashville Symphony, I am a frequent visitor to Nashville. I have even spent time writing my own music there, collaborating with many talented songwriters. Several of my CD’s: “Lucky Girl” “Close To Me” and “Two of Hearts” with Ben Utecht, were recorded there, under the guidance of wonderful producers.

This trip, however, was to be strictly social, in honor of the birthday boy!

We all arrived at around noon, checked into our hotel and regrouped for lunch. It was great connecting with Ed’s friends, whom I claim as my own now. The last time we took a trip together was to New York City, a couple of years ago. Here we were again for another joyful occasion!

Neither couple had ever been to Nashville so it was fun taking in the sites with newbies. On Friday evening, we all attended a show at The Grand Ole Opry, which headlined Pam Tillis. Every Friday and Saturday, the two-hour show, comprised of several musical acts, is broadcast live on Willie’s Roadhouse - Sirius XM channel.

We sat in a pew in the balcony to watch the show. There was a fabulous house band, with an amazing female fiddler who accompanied many of the musical acts. All of the bands and artists were very good, in fact! After the show we took an Uber back to our hotel and had a nightcap in the hotel bar to top off our first Nashville evening.

The following day was Ed’s birthday and we all took the hotel shuttle downtown to Broadway, in the entertainment district renowned for its honkytonks and live country music. We walked past many restaurants, bars, retail stores and The Ryman Theatre, on our way down to the Cumberland River, at the end of Broadway. There, we entered Acme Feed and Seed and walked up to the third level for a tasty lunch and cocktails.

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for a little nap before going back out for Ed’s birthday dinner at wonderful 404 Kitchen. We had fantastic southern fare topped off with a candle-lit birthday cake, as we serenaded Happy Birthday to a very pleased Ed.

After dinner we went back to the hotel bar to multi-task: we played our favorite card game, 32, while watching the NCAA semi-finals over drinks interspersed with lots of good laughs.

The following morning we all met for a goodbye brunch, before taking off for the airport for our return flights. We all had a great time and it was exactly the weekend the birthday boy ordered!

Easter Sunday, my husband, my sister, and our son and his fiancée attended a beautiful Easter mass followed by a wonderful brunch at Crop Bistro in downtown Cleveland. Afterwards we all visited my mom, bringing her eggs Benedict from our brunch, which she enjoyed thoroughly.

Although the temperature outside was only in the upper 50’s, the sun was shining and warmed us up as we took my mom for a walk around the beautiful grounds of her nursing facility. It was nice for her to get some fresh air and we all enjoyed taking in the beautiful spring flowers and the various statues situated on the grounds. It was a fun visit and a lovely Easter.

The next birthday later in the month was my mother’s. She turned 94 on April 25! Since she has been living in a nursing home, and it’s very difficult to move her, we brought the party to her! My sister, my son and his fiancée, my Ed, and Kristen, my mom’s favorite physical therapist, gathered in one of the nice party rooms to celebrate.

After a casual dinner together, I brought out my mom’s special request: carrot cake, that I made from scratch to her recipe. We sang to her as she blew out a symbolic number of candles. She looked lovely in her new top, scarf and earrings and really enjoyed her party, as did we all! Wow, 94—not even she can believe it!

Two days later, I was up at 4:30 am for a date with Jim Brickman. I drove to the airport to catch the 7:00 am flight through Chicago, then caught the 8:30 flight to Dallas, with a stop in New Orleans, finally touching down in the Lone Star State, at around 12:50 Central Time. I had already been traveling seven hours, when I was picked up by Jim and John Trones for the next leg of the trip. Then three of us drove to Longview, TX (two hours away), where we would be performing at LeTourneau University’s 1,500-seat Performing Arts Center.

We did make a quick stop for a snack and much-needed coffee along the way. Once arrived, we checked into our hotel and I snagged a restorative 15-minute power nap. It had been a long and tiring day, but, as we all know, the show must go on!

We drove to the venue and had sound check at around 4:30 in this beautiful hall, endowed with the most wonderful acoustics. I was tired, but my voice was in good shape and with the added pleasure of excellent “live” sound, singing felt almost effortless. We hit the stage at 7:30 and I was feeling great. The audience was terrific and we all worked off the room’s energy. We felt we delivered just what the audience wanted! After a meet & greet in the lobby that confirmed our intuition, we drove back to our hotel and dissolved for a solid six hours of sleep. I rose early to meet up with our sound engineer, Bob. By 7 am, we were driving back to the DFW to catch our 11:00 am (direct!) flight home. How was that for a whirlwind 31-hour trip?

The rest of the month, I rehearsed with Abe for a show that’s slotted over Mother’s Day weekend, took in some hot yoga classes, went on some great nature walks (after our long hard winter, Nature is back at last!), made daily visits to my mom, and enjoyed fun lunches and dinners out with family and friends.

I'll be back in May for another chapter!