I’ve always lived away from family – well, ever since I grew up and left my parents behind. At seventeen I headed south from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh – about two and a half hours away – to go to college. Then I moved with my husband, David, to Rochester, New York, where he attended graduate school. There I worked at the University of Rochester and attended cosmetology school at night. After four years, with David’s Ph.D. degree in his hand, a cosmetology license clutched in mine, and with one kid tucked in the back seat of a van and one in utero, we drove into the sun to San Diego, California. There, David did his postdoctoral work. I volunteered in an elementary school and fell in love with teaching, while my forgotten cosmetology license gathered dust in a file. Next we headed to New Jersey/New York, where we spent the largest portion of our lives, raising our children while David and I each followed our passions – David, science and research, and me, teaching. After thirty-five years, it was time to make another move. We could go anywhere!
We thought of New Mexico and California. We looked in North Carolina. We even wondered about New Zealand, a place of pure beauty that we had visited many years ago. But the draw was not strong enough – not for any of them. Too cold! Too shaky! No family! Too far!
Arizona, we thought! It’s not cold or shaky. It’s not too far from family because many of our extended family members live there – aunts and cousins, nieces and a nephew, and a brother and a sister-in-law. Arizona looked good. It would be fun to finally live near family. We decided that Arizona would be the next stop on our journey of life.
Unfortunately we came too late to spend time with my mother or father. They both lived in Arizona, but their journey had ended. Though they each passed on before we arrived, they are here!
My mother is in Dillard’s, World Market, Sprouts, and Bashas’. She is at 16th Street, and she is at Bethany Home and Camelback and Indian School. She is in Paradise Valley and in the Teepee Mexican restaurant – my favorite. Chimichangas and Cheese Crisps – she always ordered them.
My father is in Pinnacle Peak and Cave Creek. He’s on Tatum Road. But mostly he is at Cold Stone, his, and now my, favorite ice creamery. He loved ice cream, and I inherited that delicious-calorie-craving gene from him. He introduced me to Cold Stone when he first moved here, and I can’t pass it without thinking of him. Sometimes I can’t pass it without indulging in an Irish Cream, Cinnamon Bun, French Toast, Cotton Candy, or Coconut ice cream cone with brownie or caramel or apple-pie filling mixed in. I do it for him. That ice cream exerts an unexplainable magnetic draw.
Arizona is alive with the spirit of my parents. They are around every corner and are never far from my mind. Every day I wake up and think I am … home!
(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
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donna o'donnell figurski - author
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I am the author of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver's Tale. It's the true story of how my husband almost left me--three times.