Orlando Day Trip Part I: The Part You DON’T Want to Read

Just so that you don’t think I’m a total heathen, driving to Orlando selfishly for playoff basketball satisfaction, I did have other things on the slate for the afternoon.

My father having passed away only a few months ago, my journey to live life without him is fully underway.   I’ve been to Orlando since his passing, but this was the first time I’d visited his old stomping grounds, our old stomping grounds together, where we used to sit, where we used to drink, where he used to live, where we used to laugh and where he got sick again, twice.

And then there’s the tale of the prosciutto incident.

Have you ever wept so hard that someone gave you extra prosciutto out of the kindness of their heart?  I can now cross that accomplishment off my personal bucket list.

My journey eastward began with a stop at the outlet malls because that’s what one does in Orlando.  But not only for deals and more kicks I don’t need.  There was one Italian restaurant where BCole and I took my father ages ago. 

I’d planned on having a meal there, to sit in the booth where we once sat to reminisce.  That was until I found out it was no longer open.  They’d shut the restaurant down, replacing it with a Ford’s Garage.  They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.  The afternoon was off to an auspicious start.

Disappointed, I shopped.  It’s a coping mechanism.  I had hours to kill before tip of Game Three and more places I wanted to see.

I drove to my dad’s old apartment, where he’d lived for 15 or so months before moving closer to us.  I parked the car and sat across the street on a park bench, staring at his old upstairs bedroom window, where less than a year ago, we packed all his belongings into BCole’s SUV.  I could smell the potpourri from inside the building lobby that I’d always comment on as I’d enter.  I cried.

I walked the hospital walkway conveniently across the street where we’d visit him repeatedly once his cancer returned.  I cried again.

I sat outside and reflected on the last few months, the time we’d shared and the talks we had.

With my initial attempt at antipasto abandoned, it was off to another place my father and I would frequent, Antonio’s in Winter Park, a bastion of deliciousness I’d written about in the past. 

He and I would walk down the aisles of red wine, trying to find a vintage from Chile where we’d lived together so long ago.  We’d chat with the sommelier, pick one out, then dine on pizza or pasta and catch up.  Afterwards it was upstairs for cappuccino and sambuca.

As I walked down the aisle Thursday afternoon, alone, I became overwhelmed with emotion.  I returned to the counter to order my lunch and burst into tears.  Barely able to get the word “antipasto” out of my mouth, I apologized to the lady, explaining that my father and I used to dine there all the time.

I walked away, in a fruitless attempt to gather myself.  It didn’t work that well.   In a few moments, another lady came from behind the counter and patted me on the shoulder.  She’d prepared the antipasto herself.  Aware of my condition, she leaned over and whispered, “I put a little extra prosciutto in there for you, the good stuff.”

I walked out of the deli on this sunshiny day, extra prosciutto in hand, still weeping as I crossed the street to the lake where I’d sat years ago, watching children fish, watching turtles swim, listening to ducks quack and thinking about my father.

I embraced the emotions, knowing the day was about me, and him, his memory, the things I’d love doing with him, the things I now do on my own, or with BCole and company, with him watching and smiling, knowing I’m not alone.

With him by my side, I could never be.

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5 Replies to “Orlando Day Trip Part I: The Part You DON’T Want to Read”

  1. Don Dale is always with you no matter where you are, my dear but I’m glad that you were able to walk in those memories again. I still cannot walk into the Panera where I bought his favorite soup yet despite being in the same complex often. It’s the little things. I appreciate being on this journey with you, thru smiles, tears and many times experiencing both simultaneously.

  2. So sweet – yet bitter sweet in a loving memory. After my mom passed, I would find myself sobbing without warning (as a 46 year-old adult) while driving the many miles to my work place (in the early morning darkness by myself). Later, a friend of mine consoled me with her reflection on life and death. She said, “Grief will always be there – coming in as waves. As time goes by, those waves will always be there – but they will no longer be quite as high.” May you find peace of mind with that thought…

  3. “We all shine on… like the moon, the stars, and the sun…” Lennon. Peace my brother.

  4. To all who read and love these posts, I promise there are more coming.

    Careful what you wish for.

    As always, thank you for the kind words and support.

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