September 11, 2001 An Adventure
Travel Cures What Ails You
There she goes again could be my motto. I really wanted to go to Ireland, not so much because I wanted to do construction on a three hundred year old estate, but because I will do just about anything for an excuse to travel. Travel is the cure for what ails you. This particular adventure to Ireland was going to help make up for a trip that we never made the year before. We had celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Europe in May. I really should have been content with my wonderful trip to Paris and London with my dear husband. Are we getting sick yet? When the opportunity presented itself as a work trip I absolutely had to go. It wasn't very expensive I could work extra and...
We had lived in the middle of the Marianas Islands for three years and I had been to Hawaii so Europe called to me. When my husband told me he was going to Amsterdam on business my spirits soared. There was no way he was going alone. Immediately there was a frantic search to see if airfare was affordable. Yes, airfare was affordable. If all I had to worry about was the airfare, food wouldn't cost much,the trip would be affordable.
September is a really busy month when preparing kids to go back to school. Until all the school supplies are bought,the schedules settled, emergency forms,class donations, gym clothes and volunteer schedules are settled it's pretty hectic. Oh yeah, there are also football and soccer schedules, not to mention my class would need a sub. Our kids were in second,seventh and 12th grades. Obviously the travel bug overcame my good sense. My husband doesn't like to travel nearly as much as I do, so he agreed to the madness. I tried hard to make everything simple for my mom and friends who would be helping her with the kids schedules.
Simplicity is the solution to craziness, but somehow as a young mother I could never implement that that solution.
The day before we left for Amsterdam, after weeks of planning and anticipation, the craziness was beginning to make me wonder if traveling just after school started was a good idea. I was sitting at my computer, finalizing the schedule for my mother and friends who would deliver my kids to school, soccer, football, and all their other activities, I thought, "As much as I want to go to Europe, this schedule is crazy. What is it going to do to Mom? If there was any way to not go I wouldn't."
The phone rang.
"Hi Hon, are you sitting down"? "Well as a matter of fact, Yes, I am. What's up?" My dear husband hesitantly began with, "Well,,, there is a gas strike in Europe. The company has canceled my trip. Can you get a refund on your ticket?"
Relief and despair at the same time. I wanted to go to Europe badly. Two months later when my husband did go to Amsterdam it was impossible for me to go.
If you have young kids, do not plan major trips at the start of school.
I didn't get to Amsterdam, but I was able to turn my ticket in for two tickets to Paris. We were celebrating of our twenty-fifth anniversary. We took the train to London one day when our daughter had to work. It was the first time we had visited Ann and we had such fun. We met her parents and sister and saw all the sights. When you are a mother of all boys you get daughters any way possible. We adopted our Ann the year she was our foreign exchange student. EuroStar
Shortly before we left for France another trip to Ireland came to my attention. There was a slump in the economy. My husband didn't want to go because his job wasn't too stable, but said," If you can finance the trip you can go". September 7, 2001 found me comfortably leaving my kids in the care of my husband and mother. My oldest son was in college, living at home and was willing to help keep an eye on his brothers.
Everything Is Under Control
On September 7th my wonderful husband, fully understanding that I live to travel, cheerfully sent me off with 14 other friends and acquaintances to Ireland. I had done everything possible to make this adventure as painless as possible. He would work some days from home and go into the office other days. My mom would make dinner and herd the crew when needed. My oldest son, when he wasn't in class or working would ferry his bothers as well.
I didn't ask them to accomplish any large projects. Did I say I am married to a wonderful man.
I once went to camp with my middle son. My husband was supervising two almost high school seniors while they painted our house. A smiley face was painted on the garage door when I came home. This time there were "No projects" planned. I just wanted them hang in there until I got home. My third grader was very excited, his dad would be the one reading to his class in my place for three weeks. With a new position, a sub wasn't needed for my job. Everything was under control.
I thought everything that was under control.
I was the sacrificial lamb on the trip. The flight attendant as we boarded in Oakland had taken both my ticket to Los Angeles.and my ticket to Dublin. We had just enough time in L.A, to get another ticket. E-tickets eliminate this kind of snafu. When we landed at Dublin Airport one of my suitcases was missing. Eventually it showed up.
Ireland was amazing. The weather was amazingly good for Ireland. Our projects were progressing nicely. Everyone was working hard and having a lovely time.
September 11, 2001
That day my task was digging rocks out of the garden. It was heaven for a gardener. The rich loam easily accepted a shovel. My friend and I were progressing nicely when the postman came careening into the yard. He was speaking English, but we couldn't understand a single word he said. He yelled at us as he turned his car radio up as loudly as possible. We could hardly understand what the announcer was saying. The commotion drew others around the car. We couldn't understand what was going on. The post man looked at us, "Are you daft"? "There's been a plane crashed into the World Trade Center, New York", he finally said slowly. "I knew there were Americans here so I came right along when I heard this news. Listen!" President Bush then came on the air. I think the post man had to come back later because he forgot to leave the mail.
We immediately went inside to seek out more news. We reached the television in time to see the second plane crash into the second tower. I watched in horror wondering if friends Kurt(American Airlines) or Dick( United Airlines) were flying those planes. Then the plane flew into the Pentagon. My gardening friend, who worked for the Department of Defense inhaled deeply. She explained what part of the Pentagon had been hit, who she knew there, how many may have perished. Then her professional self took over and said "I need a phone and a way home."
Pentagon 9/11 Memorial
Once I saw a movie where there was an explosion and chaos then suddenly the movie switched to a train moving through beautiful, peaceful, countryside. I felt like I was in that movie. My family was 6,000 miles away, my country was under attack, I was helpless on a country estate in Ireland.
The man leading our group and gardening friend disappeared to use the phone. The rest of us went back to work until tea. They came back at tea. "All the airports in the United States are closed. European flights are being turned around to their points of origination. If they are near the United States they are being diverted to Canada and Mexico". We asked our leader, "What is our plan." Well he said, There is always a plan B if an evacuation from Europe is needed. The tables have turned. The unimaginable happened. there is no plan B. We can't go home. We are safe. We might as well do the work we came to do."
Those who had phone cards tried to call home. They were met with busy signals.
Dublin, Ireland September 13, 2001
Two days later we were scheduled for a tourist day. We went to Dublin. Trinity college and the Book of Kells drew my friends and I. After a couple of amazing hours in the old library we shopped, took pictures and ate at a pub. Everywhere we went people grabbed us, shook our hands and expressed their condolences. They wanted to talk to us, tell us about their friend, neighbor, or cousin who had lost a loved one. Aside from Americans there were more Irish citizens killed in the World Trade Center than any other nationality.
When I finally was able to talk to the family two days after 9/11 there were lots of tears. Number 2 kid told me our neighbor did pilot a United flight into New York city from San Francisco that morning. His kids didn't know if he was dead or alive for two hours after the crashes were reported in the news. He had arrived at his hotel and laid down for a nap. It was about an hour later when one of his flight attendants woke him to tell him the news. He called home immediately.
Number 1 kid had to tell me, "At the same time the planes were going into the W.T.C. there was a fire down the street from the National Laboratory.(Three miles from our house) Mom, I had to drive all around town to get home after I heard the news about the Trade Center and the Pentagon. The road to the lab was closed. I was sure there had been a bombing here too".
Apparently, fire and police weren't too sure there hadn't been a bombing either for a while.
"Mommy, Mommy, all the houses have American Flags" said number 3 kid. .
"Hon,come home as soon as you can?",said my husband.
I cried at the sound of their precious voices.
Finished The Project
We finished the project, we accomplished another as well. Did we work harder to avoid thinking of what we faced when we got home? On another day of site seeing around the countryside. We visited the Trim Castle. were filmed around Trim. We met wonderful friendly people. We all wanted to go home. Parts of Brave Heart
Twelve days later, the airports in the U.S, open again. The security was very high, but not efficient. I left most of the tools I brought to Ireland. Keeping only my favorite hammer, small crowbar and work apron. My father-in-law had given them to me. I threw away most of my work clothes and was traveling extremely lightly. My only luggage was a backpack and a purse. The couples on either side of me in the check in line were traveling with power tools and several suitcases. Remember I started the trip as the sacrificial lamb?The security agent singled me out as an easy search. When they asked if I had anything sharp I took a deep breath. Thought," OK", Took another deep breath and said "I have a crowbar and a hammer". Then it was their turn to take a deep breath. They nearly collapsed. Eventually they took me to the front of the check-in line, gave the clerk my bag and watched until it was out of sight. They didn't know what to do with my friends tools, so they ignored them.
Good Job Family
There was so little air traffic we arrive in California in 8 hours. Los Angeles International Airport was like a tomb. There were no cars in the parking garages. There were few other people. We walked completely around the airport waiting for our flight north. We could have driven home in the 6 hour layover but we were tired.
My husband, kids and a bunch of friends were at the airport to meet us. The kids clung to me. I cried like a baby. My 8th grader ranted, "Mom, all we have had to eat was meat. Dad never made us vegetables. Grandma was the only one to give us vegetables. Mom, we NEVER got any vegetables." He didn't even like vegetables.
I was home to my crazy normal family.
The next morning I wandered down to church to find out what I had missed. I met many of my traveling companions. We hugged and were thankful that we had gotten home safely.
Some of our friends were in Florida walking into Disney World when the World Trade Center was bombed. They rented a car and drove back to California. We had a group in South America who had eventually arrived safely home. The sky was quiet in those weeks after September 11, 2001. There were few planes flying in the San Francisco bay area.
American flags lined the streets of our city.
My mother did not lecture me as I expected. She quietly said,"You should be proud of your family, they did a fine job under adversity".
To The Heroes Who Have Fought To Make Us Free
Eleven Years Later
Eleven years have passed since that fateful day nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on September 11,2001. The world looks so different now. Many have been injured by years of war. The media runs our society with fear and chants of intolerance. The media tells us we want gay marriage. The Arab world looks on with disgust and calls America amoral. We have leadership fighting for their own power, not for the good of the country.
This is the first generation of children who have an ultra sound photo as the first photo in their baby book. The baby book is probably created on a Shutterfly account and looks like a professional publication. The babies born in 2001 roam around with I Pods and cell phones attached to their blue tooth devices.
While the world is a different place than 11 years ago there is still no place like home and I still love to travel.
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