Thursday, August 17, 2006

Travels with Dad: Annapolis, MD

On election day 2000, I picked my father up at BWI. We were going to attend his uncle's funeral. I knew both of us felt odd about our feelings. We were meeting because of someone's death, but we were happy to have the time with each other. And, to add to the oddness of the trip was the contentious election results. My father was already angry that the news had reported the polls closed in Florida at 7pm EST. That's all and good, but there's a part of the state that is in the central time zone. Those polls were still open.


Without knowing where we were going to stay, we drove to Annapolis, MD. The radio was tuned to NPR the entire time with reports from across the country. As we got closer to Annapolis, I made Dad pay attention to me instead of the radio announcer.


“Where do you want to stay, Dad?”


He gestured with his hand, “Just head to the water!”


“Okay.”


“We'll find some place near the water.”


We drove by the capitol buildings, got a bit lost in some side streets, and then saw the Marriott right in front of us. “This is good!” Dad proclaimed.


As we checked in, Dad asked the front desk agent where a good place to eat was within walking distance. (Dad was always up for a walk.) The desk agent suggested a place, O'Brien's. He even called ahead for us as the time was nearing 9pm. Dad and I had a great dinner of halibut and crab cakes.


That night Dad was determined to stay up until a winner was announced. It was around 1AM when I got out of my bed and turned off the television. “Dad, you can find out in the morning. A few more hours won't make that much of a difference.” I had no idea how right I would be. At 7AM, no one was any closer to knowing who the next POTUS would be.


After the funeral in Milford, DE Dad and I drove back to Annapolis and walked around the downtown. We tried to figure out on which street Jack Ryan was jumped in Patriot Games. We had dinner somewhere too noisy.


That next morning we decided to have a quick look around the Naval Academy. The Marine at the guard house saluted my father. I suppose that saying “once a Marine, always a Marine” held true for Dad.


It wasn't a good reason to see each other, but Dad and I made the most out of it.

1 comment:

Trixie said...

I have these same odd moments with my family. When my grandfather died, I organized a baby shower for Turtletoes and pretended like GD had already picked out an outfit for the baby in advance and this was the excuse. After a dinner with 5 million relatives and friends, we gathered around and opened thousands of gifts. Everyone had gone shopping. It was a good way to avoid the unavoidable for a few minutes and pretend that this was just another family gathering. I have photos. My mother looks so old and without makeup and so thin. But she is smiling like crazy for a few minutes as she helps Turtle with the wrapping paper. Everyone is gathered around even the men who would never normally hang out. It was a strange a week. My grief was kept at bay for so long because my mind refused to admit that this was anything more than a family gathering. I cleaned the wood floors and polished all the furniture (my normal chores when staying over) while other people cleaned other things. We'd be going along and then we would ask whether GD knew where something was or whatever.. and boom! Duh. Reality would bite. There are pictures of the funeral pyre. The men burned everything in the barn even the antiques, the old books, everything that wasn't a tool or an old piece of leather which GD had designed into a saddle or bridle. They didn't burn the license plates either which were hanging on the wall. But they burned a whole lot of history and I was angry. I was really really angry. But the men felt better for it. It was some old Viking thing running through their veins. I have pictures of it. It is still distrubing. But I remember more and more the feeling of us all being together. I remember how I was old that day. I held it together for a baby cousin who couldn't. I held her tight. When I came home, I had a new puppy which I promptly had to give away. I brought the puppy home because I was grieving and needed someone to love. It was one of the worse decisions I ever made. I knew it within 24 hours.