Today is Sunday

My Knee is terribly infected, I managed to split my stitches and spent yesterday at the doctor where I found out my future scar will be double in size. There is major weather on the East Coast and Hurricane Irene is killing all flights from The Dominican and Puerto Rico leaving me with less than thrilled people to deal with. I have a bad headache and a lot of work ahead of me. With that being said, I think I will blog about my trip to The South. 

On our way to the airport. Leaving the children is always hard for me.

First stop... Daytona Beach. We were just planning on driving through, but that beach was too beautiful not to stop and play on. Because my travel companions are also "fly by the seat of their pants" type of people, we ditched our plans of getting to Jacksonville early and instead hung out in Daytona late into the night. We saw a great live band, played in the water and got our only shoes stolen. All and all, a lovely night.

Excuse our attire. We hadn't changed from our travel apparel yet.

That night we also visited St. Augustine, which was absolutely stunning. I can finally check that off the old bucket list. We drove to Jacksonville afterwards and finally slept a bit. Before meeting up with my dad in Atlanta the next day, we stopped by Savannah. Another check off the bucket list for me. It was, as expected, gorgeous. I will spare you all the three hundred and forty seven pictures I took of those places, and at the end of my post, I'll put up a few from my very favorite place we visited.

 Finally arriving in Atlanta, we made it to a dinner at my beautiful Auntie Linda's house, where I was able to visit with all my dad's side of the family, The only other Valerga's I have here in the USA. All a bunch of crazy, loud Italians, who love their wine. I couldn't have been happier that night. The love that side of my family has is felt stronger than anything.  

We were able to revisit the street sign we claimed from San Francisco years ago. (The street my dad grew up on) My uncle kept it hanging in his basement.

The Morning of the funeral we had a delicious breakfast at our hotel. Best continental breakfast ever. We dined with Sis and Mike,  Nick and Sheryl, (Sheryl is the blond who my dad said was the most wanted babe at his high school... Lucky Nick.)They are all family from San Francisco. 

 The Funeral
Uncle Tom's funeral was a heartbreaking yet completely beautiful and sincere service. It was conducted by a pastor who was quite inspiring to listen to... I take great comfort in knowing my uncle was a good man that loved the lord and I know he will be received as such. After the pastor welcomed us to the service, my dad, one of Uncle Tom's two siblings, gave one of two eulogy's... His would cover the first half of his brother's life. That was hands down, my favorite part of the entire trip. My dad doesn't talk too much about his childhood to us, he never has, I believe it had a lot to do with him thinking we wouldn't understand that he wasn't raised with the gospel and therefore was involved with too much "sex, drugs and rock n' roll"... What he doesn't know is my Uncle Tom and Auntie Barbie filled us in completely on just how wild and reckless they were. During my dad's emotional recap of their childhood, I got to hear those stories directly from him. Turns out they really did drag race brand new cars, crash them and get their dad to buy them new ones the next week... Which I now understand why my dad kept secret from us...We were lucky to borrow five dollars from him. Clearly, he didn't want us to know he was a bit "spoiled". It was true, they did have more than one brush with the law... But due to the fact that they were "Tom Valerga's kids", they got out of everything. (A courtesy my own father did not extend to me when I grew older.) They had a great childhood and were very close. Although it was very hard to see my dad cry, it was also wonderful to see him light up as he talked about his childhood.

Next, was the other eulogy, this one would recap of the other half of his life, told by uncle Tom's best friend.

We know him as this guy...

You may know him as this guy...
Irrelevant side story:
 One night Jacks and I were up late in the lobby of our hotel. The general was just getting in and he recognized us from earlier at Auntie Linda's house. He approached us to tell us how much he loved our Uncle... He visited with us for a while and the rest of the vacation Jackie and I joked about feeling obligated to hang out and entertain our new best friend... I am so happy I have blood relatives that have my sense of humor, otherwise it would be a cold, dark world for me. 

Then we went to the cemetery where they did a Twenty One Gun Salute And presented Auntie Linda with a flag. By that point, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.  As my cousin Christy said..."That was off the hook!" and it was.

After the Funeral
After the service we changed and headed to downtown Atlanta where we saw the city and enjoyed a great baseball game. My family's team, The San Francisco Giants were playing the Atlanta Braves.  My dad and Brother had to go... They said it was Uncle Tom's last gift to them to have the Giants playing in the same city, the same night we would be there. I went on one condition, we could sight see and get a really great steak before. We did and everyone was happy.
 (Nadia's two little fingers popping up behind my head, not my dad's.)

And now for my favorite place we visited. And I can't remember the name of it... All I know is while looking online in preparation for this trip, everyone said this cemetery in Savannah, Georgia was their favorite place, and I concur. It was unbelievably stunning.

Side note:
My little princess was the best travel mate.

...And I won't go into the humidity and my hair issues... My skin never felt so good, my hair however... Oh well, you can't have it all.

We Love You Uncle Tom!!! We will be seeing you again!

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