It doesn’t get better than this

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Nothing could be better than time away with my precious family, from left, Elizabeth, Josh, wife Tracey, Samantha and husband Spencer.

While relishing my eight-day vacation, I finally got to read Lillian Hellman’s book, Scoundrel Time, about her terrorized time of the McCarthy hearings. I was moved by her closing words about her horrendous experience in a life filled with extraordinary achievement as an award-winning  playwright.

She wrote, “as I  finish writing about the unpleasant part of my life, I tell myself that was then, and this is now, and the years between then and now, and the then and now are one.”

I felt I could relate to that feeling, having recently suffered through losses in my life and now having the most extraordinarily joyous week spent with my children, grandchildren and visiting with my Florida family members.

I had wisely chosen the spectacular Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, which has, in addition to hotel rooms, three condo/hotel buildings. Knowing I was traveling with children from one to seven years old, we would need kitchen facilities and even a washer/dryer.  Our rooms high above the ocean on the 35th floor offered views more like being on a cruise ship than on land. As I opened my hotel door my view from the floor-to-ceiling windows and terrace were the ocean waves. It’s  just what I yearned for.

Somehow the ocean is restorative for me and as soon as we arrived I arranged for special hooded, covered lounges so we could sit in the front row facing nothing but the ocean. Even off season the hotel was packed to capacity and I didn’t want to run down to the beach every morning to make sure we were “ringside.” It turned out to be a blessing because we spent hours and hours there and my fair-skinned redheads, including my daughters Elizabeth and Samantha and son Josh, could hide, protected from the sun. Two grandchildren, Blake and Morgan, are also red headed and fair skinned. I think I’m going to invest in a sun block company because we went through creams, sprays and lotions, all above the mandated SPF 30. It worked because thankfully no one got a sun burn.

The waters at the beach were surprisingly gentle and even two-year-old Addison could stand quite a distance from shore.  What fun they had splashing away and digging castles in the sand. They never got bored but my daughters decided — and the kids were thrilled — to go to the Kids club for a few days. Each day they went they wanted to go again the next!

The “grown-up” fun was to relish the extraordinary world-class restaurants the hotel offers. We actually took the kids with us a few nights because kids eat free with each adult. There is Blade, with a sushi menu; Gotham, featuring superb steak; and Hakkasan, a world- class pioneering concept serving the best Cantonese food I ever ate in a stunningly designed, dimly lit space.

Then there was my personal favorite Scarpetta, serving an Italian cuisine that Zagat rated as one of America’s top restaurants. I’d give it that rating too.  From the appetizers to the entrees to a fabulous finish of desserts to make you salivate at their beauty and taste it was a meal to remember.

While waiting for my table I went to the bar at Scarpetta and saw a bourbon on the shelf with the name Hudson, made in New York. Well, any namesake of my grandson I had to sample. It was a smooth-bodied drink that warmed my palate and I enjoyed each sip.  When I get home I must buy a bottle.

A few nights we went out of the hotel without the kids and tried an Italian and Asian restaurant but honestly nothing compared to the quality of the food at the Fontainebleau. Although they are pricey they delivered memorable meals, superb servings and beautiful settings as fine as the best restaurants in New York.

The added bonus of going to Miami Beach was that cousins I rarely see live here and we had a chance to share memories of growing up together and catch up on their children and grandchildren scattered around the U.S.A.

A surprise visit from my stepson Jon Yunis, with Hillary and little Jillian, who live in Sarasota, was the icing on the cake of a perfect week.

I had tears in my eyes as we pulled away from the hotel. It doesn’t get better than this, surrounded by my children and their children in an idyllic setting. I’m imbedding  it in my memory bank to be drawn upon on the challenging days of life.

Hudson takes his first steps in the ocean.

Hillary, with little Jillian, and Jon Yunis.

Hudson playing with cousin Addison.

Morgan and big brother Blake with cousin Jonah.