Another dip into the draft dumpster to salvage this memory from the month after our son-in-law's death in October of 2008. This was a lovely, small event that marked an important step in healing on the road to recovery for all of us, most especially for Lisa. And I think milestones need to be noted and remembered.It was raining Saturday. Enough to keep the windshield wipers in full-time swish mode for the entire drive from here back through the hills to Ojai.
My two daughters, my daughter-in-law and I climbed into my trusty blue Honda Pilot and braved the elements to visit the world-famous Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn.
A most interesting experience - not something that we do with any frequency at all (a first visit to the place for 3 of the 4 of us) - and one that we enjoyed.
The place was busy, busy, busy. No sign of economic crisis here! Literally dozens of people, all wearing white spa robes, sitting, resting, hot-tubbing, sipping cold water with sliced cucumber and mint or warming up with hot herbal tea. In the women's hot tub area, every single chaise lounge was filled with a white-robed, resting female.
One exception to the white robes was a mother/daughter pair, there to celebrate the daughter's 21st birthday, dressed identically in hot pink tank tops with gold sequined hearts spread across the entire front.
I must admit to some hesitance in disrobing in a common locker space, no matter how elegant. It's been a while! All of us remembered high school gym class and the mixed emotions of that entire experience. But as I allowed myself to relax, I began to notice that there were all kinds and types of women around me - every decade, every size, every shape. Not a ton of racial or ethnic diversity, but a little. Most were there to unwind, to step away from the swirl of daily life for a few hours, and that's a very good thing. Too bad it's such an expensive thing - at least at this particular place!
My recently widowed eldest daughter Lisa had received a loving gift from some family members in the form of a gift card for the spa and she wanted to treat us all to a pedicure. We did it in twos, and I must say it was a lovely, indulgent, softly sensuous experience.
As you can see by the delightfully scrubbed, trimmed and painted toenails above, we all chose different colors, but ended up with the same affect: rested bodies and spirits. I also had a massage - in a beautiful small room with its own small fireplace and a heated massage table. Bliss.
Then we dined in the spa restaurant for a late lunch, enjoying the outing and the time together. The drive home was rain-free and absolutely gorgeous. Rolling green hills and a leisurely water-side mile or two along Lake Casitas.
We arrived in time to freshen up, join the men/boys and then dine out together at Piatti's to celebrate our eldest grandson's 18th birthday, returning home to yet another intense sensual experience - chocolate cake! - homemade with love and skill by our daughter-in-law. Dark cake, dark ganache, nutella on one layer, hazelnuts on the outside edge and chopped up Skor bars in the filling. Oh my, my, my.
Overall, it was a very delightful and relaxing weekend together - despite a few bad colds and one very sick 3-year-old who coughed so hard, he had to go home from the restaurant to clean up and recover before rejoining us just in time for dinner - which he devoured. Can't let great homemade mac and cheese go to waste!
I am more grateful for the gift of family than I can possibly put into words. Each of these women is a remarkable individual - caring, smart and beautiful. We have walked through an intensely difficult time together and will continue to try and find our way through this wilderness territory called grief, dependent on God and one another to make it to the other side.
And freshly painted toenails are their own strange and wonderful therapy!