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Thankful 12/7/2019
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November turned out to be month with plenty to be thankful for. Friendship and good food for starters. The month opened with The Annual NeCastro Cook-Off, the savory invention of dear friends of ours. You may remember last year’s theme was chili, and I proudly won 1st Place!!! This year, a merry band of 10 competed for best soup. This time I didn’t even place, with what I thought was a pretty amazing red lentil. Hmmm, better luck next year...

The following week, I was in “Christmas Celebration Tour” mode with Jim Brickman, as his guest on his podcast radio show. We began counting the days to our first show together in Nebraska! I also rehearsed with Abe for our New Year’s Eve Show at Nighttown.

As usual, Ed and I enjoyed some fabulous dinners out. The first was with new friends, Mark and Vivian, at one of our now favorite (as I’m sure you have noticed) restaurants, LockKeeper’s.

Mid-month, I joined Jim and John Trones for a Tour rehearsal before heading over to Castle Noel, “America's Largest Year Round Indoor Christmas Entertainment Attraction”. Our livestream concert there in front of an audience of 50 was broadcast all over the world, via the internet. We sang “The Gift”, “Destiny”, “Simple Things Christmas” and announced winners for prizes and tickets to Jim’s touring holiday show.

On the following Monday, Ed and I were Christmas elves at the North Pole! The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, in Akron, has been welcoming The Polar Express at the holiday season for the past 25 years. Our friends and longtime cast members, Chip (the North Pole postman) and his wife (and elf), Dolly, enlisted us to join the players for a day. We waved gaily at all the passengers on The Polar Express as they slowly cruised past us, surrounded by the beautiful holiday lights and decorations of North Pole Village, with Santa and Mrs. Claus on hand, sitting comfy in their sleigh. Definitely puts you in the spirit!

At the end of the week, my sister, Wendy and I enjoyed a dinner out with two other fun sisters, Wendy and Debby. That same weekend, Ed and I dined with friends, Mike and Denise. Two days later, we got together with friends, Hal and Susan, anxious to hear about Susan’s trip to London to meet Prince Charles! She was ecstatic about his charity dinner event, and found him utterly charming. Of course!

I spent the last Monday of the month rehearsing with Abe and the band, and on the last Tuesday, Ed and I were treated to a fantastic dinner by friends, Vanessa and Harold, at Nora’s in Little Italy.

Backtracking a bit, on Thanksgiving morning, I awoke to alarming messages regarding my mom being taken to the ER for a blood transfusion! My sweet little Mom was very weak. It’s fortunate I wasn’t hosting dinner this year, and I spent most of the day at her side. But Ed and I were able to partake briefly in a lovely first family meal at my son and new daughter-in-law's home, before returning to the hospital.

The next day was much the same, but she did feel a little better. I was able to feed her some yogurt, banana and a couple of Boost drinks…a big step!

The following day, I arrived early to feed her a breakfast of yogurt and banana. Mom was more alert than she’d been in three days, but understandably tired after a couple of hours. This was already encouraging. I left after a few hours, only to return with Ed a bit later. An aid had fed her a little dinner: more good news!

We visited with her for a while and as we were leaving she requested her lipstick! She was actually worrying about her appearance again: music to my ears!! When I kissed her goodbye, I told her to rest. She quipped: “What else can I do? Go out and play a few rounds of golf?!” Mom was back, with her sense of humor intact! Ed and I celebrated over a yummy dinner at Sirna’s Cafe right around the corner from the hospital.

When I arrived the following day, she had already eaten scrambled eggs and proceeded to enjoyed regular food for lunch and dinner. She was really on the upswing!

Not to keep you dangling till next month, this story has a happy outcome. My mom was discharged and moved back to her nursing home on December 1st, the day before I was to go on tour for three weeks. Oh, happy day! And my sister Wendy was back from Denver to take over for me. We could all take a deep breath and truly give thanks for Mom's gift of resilience.

In the meantime, a very Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season to all. I hope to spread the good cheer with many of you on the Jim Brickman Christmas Celebration Tour!