2015 ends on a bittersweet note

Where do I even begin? When last I posted we had just returned from a cruise to the Caribbean that, despite Randy’s trials and tribulations dealing with a bout of Shingles,  was actually a great deal of fun and just perfect to get us in the holiday spirit for our return home.

I was also anxious to get home to put into action the information I learned from reading I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! by  Xavier Amador that I took with me on the cruise. My hope was the words contained inside would help me understand how to reach my daughter and deal with her on-going health battle and accept help.

So, as we left the terminal and started the long drive home I was filled with excited anticipation about ending the year celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve with family and friends.

I was so excited when we finally arrived at the house. I was eager to tell my daughter all about our cruise, finish decorating the house, do a little gift shopping and start planning the menu for Christmas dinner.

Have you ever walked into a house and immediately felt that there was something wrong? I noticed as I walked towards the front door that the house was dark.  I opened the door and the air was cold and there were no sounds.  I called out her name and there was only silence.  I looked to my right into the kitchen and it looked as though it had not been used in a while.  I started to walk down the hallway and a cold shiver ran down my body as I looked into her room and saw nothing.

Where she normally kept all her important papers was clean. The bed had been made, all her clothing had been removed from the closet and dresser and the towels she had been using were neatly folded on top of the clothes dryer.   There I stood in the living room shocked, bewildered, and sad with tears slowly making their way down my face when Randy walked into the house.  “What’s wrong,” he asked.  I looked at him, buried my face in his chest and said through tears, “She’s gone, she’s gone”.

The neighbor who had been watching the house and taking in our mail came over and explained that, while we were gone, my daughter had purchased a used car, packed up all her belongings and had left. Not only did she leave but she left the morning we came home.  I searched the house and could not find a note explaining her decision to leave.

I found myself unable to concentrate on much for the next two days as I contacted the rest of the family to share the sad news and wait to see if my daughter would contact us.

In the meantime I had to pull myself together because we had friends coming for Christmas dinner, plans with friends a few days after Christmas and celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends.


Having Bob, Sandy, Dennis and Connie over for Christmas dinner was a blessing. We had a wonderful time dining on a delicious HoneyBaked ham, homemade scalloped potatoes, Bob’s delicious beans, corn pudding, Hawaiian rolls, and pumpkin pie.


The conversation at the table was, as always, lively, interesting and fun. After dinner we opened our holiday party crackers filled with colorful paper crowns, corny jokes and a little gift. Then we played a matching game that my friend Ellen sent to me.  It is called the ‘Candy Game’.  I read out the description of a candy and everyone had to guess the name of the candy.  We had a great time as some of the candies listed were from our childhood and brought back fond memories.


A few days later Bob, Sandy, Dennis, Connie, Dennis, Eileen, Randy and I went out and had a grand time visiting several local establishments and enjoyed hoisting a glass or two to all the good times we have had over the past year and vowing to have more good times in the new year.


We ended our evening at Dennis and Connie’s home where we continued our celebration. We had fun, once again, laughing and reading the corny jokes from our holiday party crackers.


IMG_0831bWe celebrated New Year’s Eve with Bob, Sandy, Dennis and Connie at Topper’s Tavern at the Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Summerfield, Florida. And, oh, what a great decision that was.  Restaurant manager Steven Maholick and his staff went out of their way to make the New Year’s celebration something to remember.  The tables was set beautifully, there were holiday tiaras for the ladies and black top hats for the gentlemen, beads and noisemakers.  The DJ played a great variety of music for the dinner hour and dancing later.


IMG_0834There were times when everyone had a great time dancing in their seats to familiar 60’s tunes.

But the best part of the evening was the food that was prepared by Chef Carlos Belmonte. From the moment I read the menu I knew we were in for a treat.  The dinner consisted of four courses.

Drunken Shrimp Gazpacho

Drunken Shrimp Gazpacho

The two choices for the first course included:

  • Drunken Shrimp Gazpacho
  • Lamb Lollipops with Mint Apple Chimichurri
Grill Caesar with Parmesan Crisp

Grilled Caesar with Parmesan Crisp

The second course included:

  • Grilled Caesar with Parmesan Crisp
  • Seafood Chowder with Mussels
Surf n Turf-5oz Filet Mignon with Sea Scallop and Shrimp Skewer, Garlic Potato Puree and Wilted Spinach

Surf n Turf-5oz Filet Mignon with Sea Scallop and Shrimp Skewer, Garlic Potato Puree and Wilted Spinach

The entrees included:

  • Surf n’ Turf -5oz Filet Mignon with Sea Scallop and Shrimp Skewer, Garlic Potato Puree and Wilted Spinach.
  • Seafood Florentine Stuffed Flounder with Tomato Risotto and Sauce Choron
  • Pistachio Crusted Sea Scallops over Sweet Pea Risotto & Burnt Citrus Butter
  • Pork Osso Bucco with Creamy Polenta and Braising Juices
Gran Marnier Cheesecake

Gran Marnier Cheesecake

The desserts choices included:

  • Black Forest Cake
  • Gran Marnier Cheesecake

Everything on the menu sounded so wonderful it was hard to choose. But choose I did and every bite was delicious.   I especially liked the gazpacho that accompanied the shrimp appetizer.  It was light, delicious and a perfect complement to the shrimp.  The grilled salad with the light but tangy dressing was very different and delicious.  I loved the Parmesan crisp that came with the salad.

I love filet mignon so, of course, that is what I ordered for my entrée. The filet was so tender you could cut it with a fork.  The entire entrée was wonderful.

By now I had eaten every morsel that was set before me and thought, “Can I really eat dessert?” “Yes,” was the answer so I ordered the Gran Marnier Cheesecake.  The cheesecake was light and delicious; a great way to end a wonderful meal.

When Chef Belmonte came into the dining room the entire room complimented him on his culinary skills.

Saying goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016.

Saying goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016.

IMG_0825We spent the rest of the evening talking, laughing and dancing a little. At midnight champagne was poured and everyone watched as the ball dropped at Times Square ringing in 2016.

2015 was such a bittersweet year.  2015 held, for me, so many good memories and so many sad memories. As a rule I do not make New Year’s resolutions.  I prefer to set goals.  The main goal I have set for 2016 is to remain positive that my daughter will realize that she needs help and will look to the family for support.



This entry was posted in Appetizers, Celebrations, Dessert, Food, restaurants and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to 2015 ends on a bittersweet note

  1. Randy says:

    The year was great in most respects and sad in others. I loved the pictures with the smiles you caught of our friends and the great food at Christmas and New Years. Happy New Years my sweetheart.

    • Kara Eisenga says:

      I have no idea who you two are. I randomly happened upon your review b/c we are considering a family cruise this Christmas on the same ship. I finished reading your blog of the trip and I have to tell you how struck I was by your perspective. I imagine you both are incredibly sweet people. I agree that life is what you make it. Hearing how you adjusted when one was ill, how you saw the simple beauty in the view of a fresh new day – I so enjoy the same thing!, and then I read your following post about coming home to your daughter moved out and then I see your sweet husband’s comment. I enjoyed the review but I’m even more thankful I just got to meet a sweet couple through your review and be reminded how thankful we can be for the moment. And if I’m on that ship this Christmas I’m gonna look for that crackling fire channel with Christmas music! Kara, Naples FL

      • Dear Kara–Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving beautiful words. I just know that you will enjoy the cruise at Christmas as much as we always love cruising. I would love to hear back about your trip. Keep reading, Mary

  2. Dotti McKee says:

    Welcome to my world, Mary. I pray for your daughter and hope that she has found a place with compassion and love, somewhere in a society where there is little room or help for people with brain disease.

  3. helffrich says:

    Kara is always in my prayers; you have done what you could. Doug and I are so glad you and Randy were part of our lives in 2015, and look forward to spending time with you in 2016. Thanks for sharing. I always love to read you posts.

  4. Cindy Bergmann says:

    So sorry that Kara has taken off. I will keep her and all of you in my prayers. I’m happy that you were able to finish off 2015 with your friends having a great time together. Hopefully Kara will find her way back home to you and the family. Love to you both.

  5. Barbara Spivey says:

    Hi Mary and Randy,
    I think 2015 will prove to be a bitter sweet year for a lot of us for various reasons. 2016 has yet to prove itself but each year brings happy and sad. Thanks to Randy, Tom and I got shingles shots. Sorry that Randy had to suffer through shingles. Mary-as far as your daughter is concerned–I will pray. The only things you could have done–you did already. So continue to pray.
    Barbara S.

    • Barbara–Thanks for your words of concern and prayers. Good that you got the Shingles shot. I talked to my doctor last week and will probably get it soon. Randy is recovering slowly but is better each day. We will be off on another adventure soon. Love to you both, Mary

  6. Bob and Sandy says:

    Mary, reading this makes my heart ache again for you, as it has ached so often in 2015. However, when you do absolutely all you can, what else is left except faith that someday all will improve. So glad we were able to be with you at all of the festivities these wonderful pictures display. As I have told you many times, you know where your friends are. Let’s look ahead to 2016 and have faith in that also.

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