Ohio, Again

I wasn’t going to go to Ohio at all this year. I took all the kids by myself to Ohio three (1, 2, 3) times last year. This year, I was going to use my time and money to go elsewhere. Or so I thought (kind of…in the 16 years that I’ve lived in California, I’ve never actually gone a year without going back to Ohio, so I’m not sure how realistic my proclamation was). My Dad’s health issues changed my plans, though, and William and I scheduled an end of May/early June trip back to Ohio, just four weeks after we returned from our last trip to Ohio. William is still nursing and he still flies for free, so he goes where I go. The girls, once again, stayed back in California with Dan and maintained their busy daycare/preschool, dance, Spanish, swim, and birthday party schedules.

Our late Spring trip to Ohio consisted mostly of four things: visiting Dad and family, gardening, playing, and eating.

Visiting Dad & Family
The #1 reason for our trip was to spend more time with my Dad, who was still in the hospital rehabilitating from open heart surgery and complications that arose after it. Unlike at our last visit, William was able to go into Dad’s hospital room. We took Dad outside each day and William loved riding with Dad in his wheelchair. William also enjoyed using Dad’s walker. William is such a happy baby and a joy to everyone who sees his smile, so being around William definitely brightened Dad’s (and other patients’) days.

Wheelchair Rides with Papa

Walking William

We also got to see and spend time with Uncle Lee, Uncle Gerry, and Aunt Jane, in addition to Mom (of course!) and Matthew. Sadly, due to family coverage reasons, we didn’t get to see Anna and Baby A this time since they scheduled their own trip a week after ours.

Visiting Dad with Aunt Jane

Visiting Uncle Gerry

Visiting Uncle Matthew & Mom

This year, for the first time, I planted a little garden in California. Dan built me a garden box and I overfilled it with tomato, lettuce, green bean, sugar pea, beet, and carrot seeds. Its quick growth greatly inspired me and I decided that when I returned to Ohio, I would revive my large childhood vegetable garden at my Dad’s house. I was very excited to take on this project…and then I got my first glimpse at what I was in for.

Garden “Before” Picture

It was completely neglected and overgrown. There was an existing asparagus plot and some compost from last Fall’s leaves, but other than that, it was full of grass and weeds. A day after arriving in Ohio, I found a hoe and started breaking up the ground. I quickly realized that it would take me forever to get the ground ready with just a hoe. My Dad had given his rototiller to a friend and my Mom had given her rototiller to my brother, so I walked down the street to the neighbor’s (who has an amazingly beautiful garden) and asked if I could borrow his rototiller. He offered up something even better – his personal help! The next day, he brought his rototiller and shovel down to Dad’s and rototilled the perimeter of the garden. To break up the interior of the plot, though, we’d have to spade it by hand. And so we did – for hours. My Mom and the neighbor helped me break up all the ground and then the neighbor came back and rototilled all of it. At the end of the day, I was sun burnt and had huge open blisters on my hand, but the garden was ready to plant.

The following day, Aunt Jane kept me company while I planted tomatoes, bell peppers, a banana pepper, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, and watermelon seedlings. I also planted rows of lettuce, spinach, onions, green beans, yellow beans, carrots, and sweet corn from seed/bulb.

Planted Garden

By May 28, I had everything in the ground. I didn’t bother watering anything, as rain was in the forecast. I did, however, put mulch around all of the seedlings.

Mulched Garden

In addition to planting my big garden, I also weeded my Dad’s front planter bed and cleaned up (again, with the help of the neighbor, Mom, and Uncle Lee, too) Dad’s back flower bed. I planted new flowers in the back bed and put mulch in that, too.

Backyard Flower Bed

Before I left Ohio (four days after I had planted my garden), I could see the lettuce sprouting. Yeah! A week later, my sister sent me pictures of nearly everything sprouted. No one will be around to tend the garden this summer, but I’m hopeful the produce will still be enjoyed. I am planning on returning to Ohio in late August, so I’ll be able to work on it more then and enjoy some of the vegetables of my labor (see what I did there?).

Since William was the only baby on this trip and our primary focus was family, we didn’t do much sightseeing. However, William got to play at a new (to him) park, splash in mud puddles, and rub noses with the neighbor’s horse (Catch Me).


Mud Puddles

Mom and I took William out to dinner twice – once at the same Bob Evans that I worked at for three years in college and once at Zia’s on the banks of the Maumee River (with the downtown Toledo skyline behind us). Our dinner at The Docks was a belated Mother’s Day celebration.

Down on the Farm

Dinner at The Docks

The day before we returned to California, my Dad was discharged from the rehab unit at the hospital. At this point, he’d been in a hospital for seven weeks. Although he was very ready to go home, his reintroduction to life on his own wasn’t as smooth as we were all hoping. Three days later, he was back in the ER and was readmitted to the hospital. After a short stay of only three days, he was again discharged, but this time, to a nursing home where he can hopefully continue his recovery with 24/7 assistance, therapy, full meal service, and wound care. My recent time in Ohio didn’t have the anguish that my trip a month ago did, but the week after my return brought new emotions as I processed the true state of my Dad’s health and his move to a nursing home (no one ever says “gee, I can’t wait until I can go and live in a nursing home”). We will all keep moving forward and praying for healing. And I will go to Ohio – for the third time this year – again in August.

About Carrie

I'm a Midwest transplant in SoCal...spending my time exploring, questioning, reading, writing, baking, skiing, and running.
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2 Responses to Ohio, Again

  1. Diane Chambers says:

    This post consolidates a lot of your Instagram photos I have been enjoying and puts them in context. Your two gardens hundred of miles apart are both doing great. Who will help your dad maintain and harvest his? Is he up to puttering yet? I know these last couple months have been really stressful for you but I am amazed and impressed on how well you have turned lemons into lemonade. I think my favorite share of yours is the one with the mud puddle and William. The one that brought a bit of a twinge to my heart was William with the walker. It recalled those early days with Alex, who used a pint-sized walker until he learned to walk by himself at three years. Alex wore a similar grin to William’s as he charged about with that mini-walker even plowing through the deep dust of a few campgrounds. Great post!

  2. Robini says:

    Wow, that sounds like a rough trip, but I’m glad you were able to go, and that William was there to brighten everyone’s day. I am also SUPER impressed with your dedication and resourcefulness in getting that garden up and running with a dad in the hospital and a baby on the breast. The garden looks lovely! And I will say, going into a nursing home is sad because it’s a loss of independence. But, having performed at more than a few in my stint as a bellydancer, I get the impression it’s also a bit like college without the homework: everyone’s your own age, they plan fun activities every day, meals are served for you, and you’re just a few doors down from any friends you make. So hopefully, there will be an upside as well. Fingers crossed that he’s settling in nicely and feeling better by August!

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