My final trip to Florida to visit my son and his wife Amber was August of 2011. I picked that time to go for two reasons: One to help them move to Mississippi but more importantly, to meet my first grandchild.
In May of 2010 my son graduated from the Naval Academy and married his high school sweetheart the very next day. Then they started their lives together as a military family. By August of that year I was back to help them move to Florida, where my son would begin training as a pilot.
My daughter in law is smart and knew life as a military spouse was going to have its challenges. Knowing the road ahead, the most important thing to her was, she wanted her husband home when their children were born.
So they got busy, and in June 2011 just one day before her father’s birthday, their first daughter was born. And, as planned, her father was there for her birth.
As a first-time grandparent, I couldn’t wait to meet her. But as a woman and mother, I knew they needed time to bond as a family. As luck would have it, they were scheduled to be transferred just six weeks after she was born.
And I wanted to be there to help.
I met Mike the pilot just a week before my departure, and we hit it off immediately. He was a retired Naval Aviator, handsome and smart, with a wonderful smile.
And he was instantly taken with me too.
It was fun to have someone to share my adventure with and we text each other several times a day. He had a way with words and made me feel like the most important person in the world.
So while I was in Florida, I was enjoying all of the attention he was sending my way. And, as a doting father, he was excited to see the photos of my granddaughter and me.
Meeting her was such an amazing experience. You know those grandparents who plaster photos of their grandkids all over social media and you wonder who the heck should care?
Well now I knew different.
There is something so special about holding your child’s child. The overwhelming feeling of love seems … magnified.
So as the kids were getting the house ready for the movers to come pack up all their belongings, I was entertaining my newborn granddaughter.
We found time to go visit the National Aviation Museum, the white sandy beaches and tour around Pensacola. It was fun to share my experience with Mike as well.
When the movers had the house all packed we loaded up the cars and drove to Mississippi to their new house. It was an easy trip that took about three hours, and pulling up to their new home was exciting.
They found a big old Victorian that was charming, and at the same time a little creepy. By creepy I mean…bugs. Amber is not a fan of big bugs and was moving into an old home where more than a few had taken up residence.
My job was to go in first and make sure the coast was clear.
The moving truck showed up the next day and we began the task of unpacking and carrying furniture. This would be a theme many more times for them, and I’ve always been there to help.
I flew home feeling happy and satisfied that they were in their new place celebrating their new little family.
It was also exciting knowing I had a few fun dates already lined up with Mike.
Oh, and John was still sending me his columns and dealing with his own dating dilemmas. But more on that later…