We got some sad news on Saturday. The Hubs' Grandmother passed away Saturday morning.
It wasn't unexpected. She was 95 years old and had Alzheimer's. She'd been on a downward slide for several years, but it still a difficult thing for us. Apparently she had a fall at home (where she still lived by herself - she had carers who came by everyday and The Hubs' Mum drove down to visit several times a week) on Friday and was taken to the hospital. She was stable Friday night, but had a massive heart attack Saturday morning.
The Hubs and I were up getting ready to go out of town for the day when his Mum texted him to call her ASAP. I told him to be prepared because I felt like his Gran had probably passed away.
After he spoke to his Mum, we had to decide whether to continue with our out-of-town plans or to stay at home. The Hubs decided there was really nothing we could do at home and that he felt his Gran would want us to go ahead with our plans, so that's what we did.
We went to Valdosta, GA for the day where neither of us had been before. The Hubs commented repeatedly throughout the day how much Valdosta reminded him of Sheffield, England. Valdosta was an old mill town and, even though its much more of a built up city now with the university there, the city has still managed to preserve some of its history, so The Hubs was able to see the chimneys from the mill and the water tower. The cityscape was very much like that of Sheffield with its water towers and chimneys left over from its days of being a huge mining town.
At one point, we got mislaid (to use The Hubs words - we weren't lost, just mislaid) while trying to locate the renovated mill and, in the process of retracing our steps, I happened to notice something interested set on the main road, but back from the road, so had I not been looking right at it, I never would have seen it. It was the Queen Victoria British Pub! Since The Hubs had been reminiscing all day and we were both feeling a deep loss for his Gran, I pointed it out to him and suggested we have dinner there. He readily agreed, so several hours later, we made our way back to the place.
When we walked in, it was like stepping back into England! The pub had proper English beers (although we didn't partake - The Hubs was driving and I don't really drink beer)! There was proper English food! There was proper English tea! And - in a rare moment of authentic recreation - there were proper English flags (not the Union Jack British flag, but real English flags)!
It was an astonishing and welcomed experience.
We ordered a Sprite for me and a Dr. Pepper for The Hubs and we then toasted his Gran. She loved pub meals. We always took her out to eat at a pub when we went to visit her. The Hubs ordered bangers and mash with seasonal veggies for his meal. I had Steak Diane (NY strip steak sauteed in Worcestershire sauce, sherry, shallots and mushrooms), mash and seasonal veggies. We finished off our meal with cheesecake (white chocolate raspberry for The Hubs and Chocolate Turtle for me) and a pot of hot tea.
We met and had a conversation with the owner of the pub who is also the chef. He's a Londoner and the former Executive Chef to the White House during President Ronald Reagan's time in office.
It was a wonderful evening and a most fitting tribute to The Hubs' Gran.
When we got back in the car to travel home, they were playing a Beatles' song on the radio, followed by a Wings' song. That's when we really knew. Gran had led us there. She had given us a chance to grieve for her and to celebrate her. There's no way we would have found the pub had we not gotten lost. She led us to it. Then, she wanted to make sure we knew it was her, so she had the Beatles and Wings playing for us. She was that kind of woman. She knew finances would not allow us to go to England for her funeral, so she gave us a celebration of her own.
So right now, wherever you are, please do me a favor and raise a glass in toast to a woman who meant so much to her family and friends. She's the last of her generation of friends and family, having outlived her husband and son, her best friend and all her siblings.