"Is everybody ready?" she said. And then the instructor pressed a button on the radio. sitting next to the pool. The music began. "Young man,...." "Oh crap," I thought. "Not the YMCA." As easy as it should be, I always screw it up by the time I get to the C. And no, I have not been practicing for the last thirty some years. My poor mom was out of the pool, next to the dark haired diva in a bikini, who was robustly dancing to the outdated tune. She was facing her students, including me and my sisters, Louisa and Ki-Ki and another twenty or so, unfamiliar faces. Mom was pulled out of the water to 'co-teach' the class, after Carla realized that forty-five minutes of vigorous water aerobics was a lot for a seventy-three year old woman with an injured arm. Four months earlier, my mother had slipped on ice in her driveway, while retrieving the morning paper. Well, she didn't get to read the news until that afternoon and by then she was nauseas from oxycodone and was wearing a sling. But that was nothing. Unbeknownst to all of us, it happened to be one of the last few days of my dad's life. If you haven't lost your father, I highly do NOT, recommend it. It is true, as the saying goes, that the only guarantee there is in life, is that it will end. After the initial shock, came the tears. Many tears were shed. Many. Buckets and buckets of them. Something had to give. Somehow we needed to turn off the faucet and stop the steady flow of sad, even if just for a little while. That's when I came up with an idea. "Let's go to sunny, sunny, Mexico," I said, staring out at the blinding snow. And then it all began. My sister Ki-Ki, who lives in Atlanta would meet the three of us coming from Wisconsin, for five, all inclusive, glorious days of mom and sister fun in the sun, in the Riviera Maya. Did you know that you are not supposed to crack a smile when they snap your passport photo? That's what the guy said at Walgreens. And did you know that it is impossible not to laugh when someone points a camera at you and says, "Don't smile." Well, after several failed attempts, he got a picture that he said would do. I look like I am from Romania. And before that, I didn't even know what someone from Romania looked like. "It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A." Oh my God. My mom can't make a Y. She can't even lift her left arm past her head. That's a really weird looking Y. After we'd met with the travel agent and got our itinerary, we went shopping. It was exciting to think that we were going to be like those fancy people going on those fancy vacations, while everybody else just sat around bitching about the snow. My mom found a pair of super cute, burnt-orange, suede, fringe, flip flops. Louisa's husband Pierre and my husband Sven, dropped us off in Chicago the day before our flight. The next morning we were up at bakers hours, drinking strong black coffee. We went through security and then we were in the air. Five hours later we landed in a foreign country and then we stood in a long line for customs. The man looked at my Romanian picture. He sized me up and down. He grunted. He mumbled something and then BAM, he stamped a page in my passport and I was in. We rolled our luggage behind us out into the hot afternoon and spotted Ki-Ki, leaning against a brick pillar, in a turtle neck. "Hi y'all," she said. "What the hell? You live in Atlanta. Why do you even own a turtle neck?" Then we were corralled onto a bus by some people in red shirts and after a case of mass confusion, the bus pulled out of the parking lot. And then it stopped in front of a liquor store for cervazes (beer). [one_half][/one_half] [one_half_last][/one_half_last] Then the driver drove and drove and drove. But, we didn't care. At last, after many stops, the bus pulled into a resort that matched the picture on our pamphlet. And that's when the blister on my mom's foot, caused by that cute new pair of burnt-orange, suede, fringe, sandals, popped. Did you know that Band-Aids are not that easy to find in fancy dancy, all inclusive resorts, in the Riviera Maya? Well, you can get them, but like, one at a time, two, if you are real lucky, for a few thousand pesos, each. There is everything else for sale there, beads, pictures, scarves, hats, shorts, swim-suits, towels, earrings, sombreros, silver, gold, turtles made of shells, cover-ups, sandals, flags, maracas, bandanas, and coconut purses, but not very many Band-Aids. We made it to our room and we flopped on the beds. It was pretty small, but it had a deck that was even smaller. We popped open the four warm and foamy cervazes that were in the warm refrigerator and we squeezed onto that dinky deck and toasted the world. "Young man, there's a place you can go." Mom sure is being a good sport up there, next to Carla. My daughter in law, Nicolette, sells Mary Kay cosmetics, and it just so happened that three out of four of us had the exact same large, black, Mary Kay hostess gift bag, and we'd all brought them to Mexico. I kept my work station of make up and lotions on the floor, under the sink over on the right hand side. Damn Sam, the air conditioner didn't work. Well, no biggie. It wasn't that hot in the room. Did you know that in Mexico the whippoorwills have Latino accents? They sound like they are wearing sombreros. The maize of brilliantly colored buildings, lavished with bright flowers, went on forever and ever. Our room was about as far away from the front desk as a room could be. But you know what? I never got lost in that place. Louisa was in shock that I, me, Millie Noe, knew my way around. "It's easy," I said, "We are to the right of the ocean if we are heading this way and we are to the left of the ocean if we are heading that way." She just stared at me. We planned a half day trip to Tulum. Did you know that buses drive in reverse at high speeds, on Mexican highways, when they need to turn around? And people scream when they do that. Well, some people do. The tour of the ancient Mayan ruins was intriguing, dusty and beautiful. They say that the beach at Tulum is one of the best in all the world. Louisa, Ki-Ki and I went down the stairs built into the cliff and stood in the water to cool off until a rogue wave hit us in our privates. Mom stayed up top and sat in a small, rare patch of shade. Band-Aids don't stick very good in Mexico. She'd lost this one way back in the beginning, on the bus. She motioned for to us to get together for a picture. We put arms around each other and smiled up at her. It wasn't for a passport. Her camera was dead. Again. "It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.." How the fuck long is this song, anyway? My God in heaven! We made it back to the resort about four in the afternoon, wearing our Mayan initials stamped in silver, around our necks. Viviana was our girl. She got us whatever we wanted and always with a big smile. I thought about bringing her back home with me to marry my youngest son, Rene, but I didn't. It might have been awkward if they didn't hit it off. Louisa went to the front desk for the umpteenth time and got another Band-Aid. "Why is this camera dead?!" said my mom. "Don't worry about it, we can all share our pictures," we said. "But, I just charged it. What in the hell?" Let's go to the swim up bar. "Young man, are you listening to me?" Mom's really starting to get the moves. I wish I would have gotten some of her dancing genes. There are lots of spicy dishes at those fancy places, everywhere, all you can eat, all the time. Even first thing in the morning, the scrambled eggs have a bite to them. "Who wants nachos?" "I do!" Cocktails come right to you, on the beach. Well, they come right to you, if you wait, forever. Or you could just walk up to the hut. It wasn't far. Or you could just serve yourself. I paid to let two fluorescent Macaws with beady little eyes and hooks for beaks, sit on my wrists and dig in their claws, while I had my picture taken. I know. The key is, no eye contact. I'm such a loser. I forgot for like, one second and it just happened. Silver slinging guys, wander back and forth across the sandy beach, polishing and polishing and trying to catch your eye. "Millie, for God's sake, look the other way." Louisa walked to the front office again and scored two more Band-Aids. "He says he can't sell me a whole box, but he gave me two this time, for free." "Oh, thank you," said my mom, taking them from her gratefully. Louisa, Ki-Ki and I went for a dip in the ocean. Mom waved to us from shore. Then we waved back at our sweet mother, with one arm up and one arm down, like three crooked Y's. "Oh, that's real funny," she yelled from her chaise lounge. "Young man, young man, there's no need to feel down." I'm laughing and I'm splashing in a pool, right next to blue Caribbean waters. Go away bad feelings. Go away. We took turns taking showers to wash away the salt. Bronzed skin from large doses of sun-filled vitamin D, will suck up lotion like a sponge. There is never enough of either one. I began digging around under the sink on the right hand side in one of the triplet bags. It was empty. My work station seemed to be scattered everywhere, all over the vanity. Everything looked the same. Mary Kay was pouring out of the walls. And why was that coffee pot still taking up space? It didn't even work. "Ha ha ha ha ha ha," I could hear them laughing out on the tiny deck, trying to do Mexican bird calls again. I grabbed the closest face cream and slathered it on in a hurry. I hate to miss anything. It was getting warm in the room. I climbed up on the chair to inspect the silent air conditioner a little more closely. Well, it was on, but it wasn't running. Bastard. We went back to our favorite place in the outside air lounge after dinner, to hang with Viviana, who brought us whatever we wanted, with a big smile. It was our last night. Pictures and kisses. Kisses and pictures. How the hell did five days go by so fast? We left an envelope for Viviana with a farewell tip and our emails. "Thanks for everything, Viviana." "Y.M.C.A.... you'll find it at the Y.M.C.A." This stupid song is kicking my butt. This better be the last verse. The four of us had an early night cap on our four inch deck. Once again we had to get up at bakers' hours to catch our flights. Wow, the room was stifling. How would we ever sleep? I got back up on the chair. "It says it's on," I said. Ki-Ki walked in from the deck and shut the sliding glass door behind her. People in Georgia close doors. The air conditioner began to hum. "What the hell?" That's when my mom read out loud from a pamphlet that was sitting on the night stand, "The air conditioner will not run unless all doors are closed." Oh my God. That was so, US. We laughed for a half an hour. Laughter is good. The phone rang shrilly. "Hola, It is three A.M." "There's a place there called the Y.M.C.A. They can start you back on your way." Jesus! We took turns squeezing into the teensy bathroom. That's when Ki-Ki whispered to me in a tiny voice, in the tiny space. "Millie. I don't know what to do." "What do you mean?" I whispered. "Look what I just found in my purse." "Holy shit." We both stood staring at each other in the bathroom mirror and then at the box of Band-Aids in her hand. "You have to give them to her." "But she'll kill me." "You still have to do it," I said. "Nice knowing you." I came out, Louisa went into the shower and Ki-Ki followed me. I put my last few remaining items into my suit case and then I heard Ki-Ki 's southern drawl. "Mama, would you like to have these?" I couldn't look. Then I heard my mom say, very dreamily, "Why, yes. I believe I would.Where did you get them?" "They were in my purse." And that was it. My mother folded up a piece of gauze and criss-crossed two large Band-Aids over the top of it, like she had a million more of them. Well, we were ready to go. I took one last look around for good measure and slammed the glass of water that was sitting on the dresser, and then spit it across the room. "Oh, my God!" It was left over, watered down, gin. We went to the lobby to wait for our transportation. And that is when, five days of eating jalapenos, hit us all. So the van had to wait a few minutes. I nervously passed through customs with a Cuban cigar stowed in my luggage. Oh, whatever. Shoot me. It was for a good friend. A good friend who never reads my freaking blog, Danny. We tearfully hugged Ki-Ki good-bye and then we were back in the air. So, yeah, we all made it home. There was still snow on the ground in Wisconsin. We were still sad. But, I wouldn't have traded that trip for anything, except maybe Hunter, who is bugging me at the moment. My nephew, Rupert downloaded all nine of my mother's pictures onto her computer. But they were movies. They usually begin with a shot of one or more of us and then maybe a glimpse of the sky and then perhaps a little sand and sometimes there's a brief picture of a toe or two and then about thirty seconds of black. That would be the inside of her purse. But there are couple that end with a pretty shade of blue. That would be the inside of her beach bag. They also have sound, which is the ocean and then my mom screaming, "What do you mean battery is low?" "Y.M.C.A.... you'll find it at the Y.M.C.A." "Okay, good job," said Carla. "See you back here tomorrow. Same time." Um, I don't think so.