Here we go…more memories. This first one is a step back, then a jump forward.
This was a day of fairy tales. This was a day of magic. This was a day when girls the world over could say, “It’s true, it’s true! You really can meet a prince and fall in love and get married. You can wear a real tiara and live in a castle. You really can.” And even though I was 27 years old, I watched and was mesmerized. As the stories were told of the courtship and the engagement and days leading up to the wedding…I felt like the whole of it was a fairy tale. And, I was getting to watch it play out! [I watched it all night long while my family slept. I had one son and my second child was due in 4 months.]
Honestly, when she arrived and got out of the carriage and we got our first look at that dress….it was breathtaking. It was magnificent! It was perfection.
And, then…all the little children that were attending her in their sweet outfits…just divine! That was the first time I had seen anyone have all children as attendants, and I understand that is the custom. As she began walking down the aisle and that train flowed out like a white capped river behind her, I thought it was the most beautiful wedding I had ever seen.
The only thing I didn’t like were her flowers. Looked like they took every white flower in the garden for the bouquet. It must have weighed a ton!
And, as the festivities were over many thought that ‘she had it all. She’d made it! A commoner (even though she did have a royal bloodline) met a prince (can’t make myself call him handsome). She married him and went to live in the castle. And, they lived happily ever after.’ That is the way fairy tales are supposed to end, isn’t it?
I finally got all my boys in bed (now I had 3). And, I sat down to flip through a new magazine…the television had been left on and I do not even know what was on. But, the sound bite that plays when a network breaks into a program came on and I looked up to see what was happening. Princess Diana…car crash….several dead…. taken to hospital….paparazzi. And, I couldn’t leave the TV. Again, I watched through the night…waiting to hear if she was dead or alive. How many others were doing the same thing the world over? Soon we learned the awful truth. She was gone.
I’ve often wondered why this affected me. Not in a big way, but just a sadness at the whole situation. And, I think it was because the fairy tale was really over now. Charles and Diana had divorced, but she had remained a public figure and continued her charitable work. But, now…it all had ended. And, it is so much the same for so many of us, isn’t it? We may not be a real true Princess, but our hope and dreams and wishes are just as real…and they, too, may be crushed. It’s how we react to this that tells our life story.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
And, now to the tragedy that is known simply by 2 numbers 9/11. Everyone knows what it means. Everyone remembers. Everyone has stories to tell. Everyone changed after that day. I don’t think any of us knew what terrorism really meant and how close it was to our home land. But, that day taught us many, many lessons.
Do you remember where you were? Most of us do, if we are old enough. And, I do, as well. I had gotten up early that morning because I had a trip planned to Birmingham. Alex had an appointment with one of his doctors in Birmingham that afternoon. Joy was going with me this time. Before I left to go and pick her up, I called my friend, Tina, to tell her something. She asked me if I had heard the news? I quickly got off the phone and turned on the TV. This was after the first plane had hit. The newscasters were trying their best to report what had happened without panic…but you could see it all over their faces.
I was watching when the second plane hit. I was dumbfounded. Newscasters were still saying that the first plane could have been an accident, but after the second plane hit, they reported we were under attack. UNDER ATTACK? What did that even mean? Did you know? We were not like other nations who had lived with attacks and threats for many years…they knew what it meant. I didn’t. I could remember, vaguely, when there were ‘fallout shelters’ located around town. But, I had no idea what to do if we were ‘under attack’.
I got in the car with Alex and went to get Joy. And, then we went over to Mom and Pop’s house to decide what to do. I called Don, and he said he thought I should go on…”Life goes on”, he said. We turned on the TV and all sat watching…and then there was a third plane crash into the Pentagon.
I felt very uneasy about traveling anywhere. I just wanted to stay home and watch the news. Soon the news went back to New York where the towers were collapsing. People were jumping. Jumping to certain death. When I see these people huddled next to the windows, it tears my heart in two.
I think they probably thought they were going to be rescued. The tower surely wouldn’t collapse. It was too strong for that. Safeguards were in place. When the first tower fell, what did those in the second tower feel? Did they know then? Did they know there was little hope? How unthinkable.
We heard then that all flights had been cancelled throughout the country. WOW…that was big! And, then the news told us that towns and cities were imposing curfews. Stores and shops were closing, schools were closing and kids were coming home to parents…the world seemed to be ‘closing down’.
And, next came the news about Flight 93…
We heard of the telephone calls and we heard the actual voices of those who knew where they were headed. We heard the voices of those who decided they would not go down without a fight. They would fight for right as long as they had breath. Heroes all!
Would this be the end? Four tragedies, one after another. Was this it? Or were there more attacks to come? What were we supposed to do?
And, I called Don again and he said, Go”. I asked Pop, and he said, ” Go on with what you need to do.” I asked Joy what she wanted to do. She said we needed to go on. I called the Clinic in Birmingham and asked if they were still seeing patients. The receptionist said,”Of course we are.” So off we went.
And even though there was no danger here in South AL., we didn’t know that. And what we did know was that there had already been 4 attacks, and the President said we were “Under attack.” So, it took a great deal of courage for us to drive 200 miles north to the largest city in AL. But, we did.
Joy and I always liked to stay at a certain hotel in Birmingham. It was the one that was connected to the big Galleria mall. Usually, Don would say ‘no’ because it was too expensive. It was very convenient for us because Alex could stay in the room and we could easily check on him. Plus, we could take our heavy packages to the room while shopping. The last time I made reservations, Don had said we could stay there. And, that time was this time.
We went on to our appointment, and noticed that quite a few of the individual doctors offices were closed. The parking deck for the clinic was as empty as I have ever seen it. There was very little traffic on the road, and according to the radio…there were no rooms available in the city. Travelers on planes were forced to find a room and stay in the city. Those who travelled by car throughout the state on business had to get off the roads. Thankfully we had a reservation. We made it to the room…got Alex settled…and went into the Galleria. We really didn’t feel like shopping, and we wanted to get to the television and see what was happening. Every single store and food vendor was either closed or closing by 6:00, due to the early curfew. We did manage to find some food available. We got it to go…and we spent our evening in the room…watching the TV…and thinking that we really wished we were home.
We got up early the next morning, and headed to Dothan. Things were moving a little more and we were able to find some food at Mc D. and gas for the car. We turned toward Dothan and didn’t stop till we got here. For several days, every one was glued to the TV…and no one went anywhere they didn’t have to go.
But, 3 days later…Don had a meeting to attend in California. He had already made his flight reservation before 9/11. He went to the airport and got on the plane and flew to California. I tried to talk him out of it, but he said, “Life is happening all the time. If God is ready for me…I’m ready for Him. If not, then He will protect me.” And off he flew. And, home he came.
And, we all changed that day. We learned things we never knew before. It brought a new and different fear into our lives. We now knew what ‘UNDER ATTACK’ meant. And, we were taught to always be cautious and to look at others with a suspicious eye. And forever we were different. And, that is NOT a good thing.
God Bless America
I tried to write the preceding without too much opinion…but, I feel compelled to add the following observations: Personally, I was very thankful there was a man the caliber of George Bush leading us at this time. I trusted him and I knew he trusted God. There was always such talk that he did too much of this or not enough of that, he did this well, but really messed up in that. My feeling is this…he was the first president in modern times to deal with war coming right into our streets from such vile terrorists. No one had given him a handbook to study. He and his advisers figured it out…put safeguards in place…and kept us safe. He did a masterful job, if you ask me.
I also thought Rudy Giuliani was a leader who showed a heart of compassion and a leadership skill that rallied the whole of NYC…and impressed the whole country.
I am flabbergasted by airline travelers who are raising such a ruckus over screening procedures these days. What part of ‘this is for your own benefit’ can they not understand? They get better screening procedures and the women yell, ‘they can see my boobs on that machine!’ Well big WOO!. I don’t care if they can see my boobs…I certainly wouldn’t be flashing them in public…but, if the woman before me had some sort of weapon taped under her boobage…I would sure hope they could see that, too. Frankly, I feel the x-ray machine operator who is reading the scan cares very little about any body part…he’s too busy looking for explosives and the like. It’s a job, people. I imagine after you see thousands in a day, they kind of lose their appeal…(at least while on the job.) While I’ve flown enough to get a mite aggravated at the shoes off and the opening of my suitcases and looking through everything…touching my stuff and getting it out of order…even getting patted down—I would not dare open my mouth to complain! In fact, I go out of my way to say ‘thank-you’ to those officers I come in contact with. Once when Alex had to go through with his wheelchair, they practically took the whole thing apart, and then didn’t know how to get it back together. They kept wanting him to stand for the pat down and he kept falling, which didn’t please them. We finally got them to understand that he had to hold on to something to stand still. Then, his shoes had to come off…and sox…which took about 15 minutes to get all back on. BUT…all that was to be sure that all the other people traveling that day were safe. I must not complain about our inconvenience, when others are being inconvenienced as well. So, travelers..whatever they throw at us, as far as safety precautions…JUST DO IT! Don’t make snide remarks and bang around making the rest of us uncomfortable…JUST DO WHAT THEY ASK…..OR TAKE A BUS! I actually think they should just kindly escort those who complain and act the fool, out the door to a waiting bus and drop them off at the Greyhound Bus Station!