Saturday, May 4, 2013

Planes, Trains, and Automobile's - Part I

Yep, I experienced all of these ways of transportation within the past week.  A good friend of mine has been going back and forth between Ohio, where she lives, and Maryland, where her mother, brother, and sister live.  Her mother has dementia that's rapidly progressing, and needs a knee replacement.  Her brother is the top salesman in his company ...which ironically one of his biggest accounts is Stryker, who makes the knees and hip replacements.  Needless to say, he's a very busy man.  Her sister is in ailing health and it's really hard for her to take care of their mother on her own, while her brother is at work.  So my friend has been spending a couple of months at home, then goes to help out for a couple of months at a time.

My friend is nearing the end of her two month stay, and wanted me to come visit for a vacation for a week, then drive back home with her so she wouldn't have to make the trip back here alone this time.  I've never flown before, and was scared to death.  A fear of heights didn't help any.  So, on April 24th I climbed aboard a Southwest Boeing 737 and prayed for the hour and a half flight to Baltimore.

I didn't necessarily like the flight, but I didn't out & out hate the flight either.  It was raining when I departed Detroit Metro, and we had some turbulence.  For quite awhile, the pilot wouldn't allow the flight attendants to get up and move around because of it.  I'm not going to lie, it scared me a few times.  In the end, I was fine though, and made it safely to plant my feet on the ground on the other side.

I had fun while I was there.  I loved her whole family, and they really took to me as well.  The mother and sister kept trying to marry me off to my friends son, who's been my bff for close to 18 years now lol.  The sister cried when I left, which made me feel good.  The mother, got angry with her dementia and was yelling at me "You not go.  You stay here.  This is your house.".  She has a pretty bad accent, but it's so cute!  This ladies' brother was a diplomat, and brought her and his other sister (who's been gone now for 20 years) to the U.S.  She lived most of her life in the U.S. around embassy parties and dinners.  She has class.  Yet, the dementia now makes her spout out cuss words when she's upset.  -Cuss words that she'd faint if she was in her right mind, and even thought of saying lol.  I'm not going to lie, I laughed so hard the entire time I was there.  Not because I was making fun of this poor, sweet woman, but because it was just honestly funny listening to her.  I've brought back two sentences that I'll never forget for the rest of my life.  I will mis-spell the first word of the first sentence, and the last word of the second sentence, although I'm sure you'll know what I mean.  Now, I'm typing this as it comes out with her cute little accent.  "Fcuk the shut up!"  "You sella ma bi!*h".  A lot of the time, those two sentences were ran together as one.  I have a bad sense of humor, you may say?  Well, maybe.  I still think it's the funniest thing I've ever heard ...especially coming from this little old lady who has photos of her brother with kings, photos of big dinner parties hosted in her home for wives of diplomat's, a personal photo her mother took of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in her home, etc. hanging on her walls.  Her father also had held a very political position as well.  

I learned so much from Grandma B while I was there.  Oh, the stories she shared with me. At times, it sounded as if she was reading from a fairy tale that was etched in her head. With the political problems Italy faced in the late 1920's-1930's, Grandma B's father packed up his family and moved them to Baghdad, where he took on a political position.  So of Palestine and Italian decent, Grandma B grew up in Baghdad, learning to speak Arabic.  Her father died when she was a around 5 years old, and her older brother took her and her sister under his wing, and stepped into a father figure role.  He also, followed in his father's footsteps in the political arena.  Although living in a Muslim country, with their heritage they are Christians rather then Muslims.  They followed the Catholic church.  One story that was recited to me, was about her brother saving the life of a 30-some year old school teacher in Baghdad.  One day, a lady showed up at Grandma B's house.  She said when she answered the door, a very distraught woman was begging to speak to her brother.  She calmed the woman down enough to find out what was wrong.  The woman said that "they" had her son, and was going to kill him the next day.  She said that her son didn't do anything wrong except to be a Christian.  She said he was a good man, a school teacher that loved his profession.  She said she'd been told that Grandma B's brother was the person to go to, if her son was to have a chance at having his life spared.  Grandma B's brother was home, taking his afternoon nap.  She went upstairs and woke him, and told him of the situation.  He picked up the phone, made a call, then told Grandma B to go downstairs and tell the lady to go pick up her son.  That he would be released to her upon arrival, and his life would be spared.  Grandma B said when she went downstairs and told the lady she said "That's it?  My son won't die?" then fell at Grandma's feet crying.  A few days later, trays of jewelry and food was delivered to the house, in thanks from the lady who's son was saved.  Her brother made them return everything to the lady, saying that they didn't need this stuff, and it was very valuable to the lady and her son where he was supporting his family off of a teacher's salary.  He refused to take it and said "thanks" was enough.  Just so much history.  So many interesting stories I heard.

I'd arrived on Wednesday, and on Friday, my friends cousins had a get-together for dinner and drinks at a restaurant called Chadwick's in Alexandria, VA.

We all met upstairs,


and sat along this wall, with the tables all smooshed together.  


I knew that most of the cousins at this get-together were very wealthy and influential.  I'm just a poor broke white girl that's over-weight and doesn't have a "real" job due to countless health issues.  I was very nervous to go with my friend and her brother to meet the rest of the family.  My fears were for nothing though.  By the end of the night, I had one of her male cousins sitting on either side of me, and we were immersed in conversation.  The one cousin, is a big realtor and restaurateur.  The other cousin, owns a home here in the states and one in London and splits his time between the U.S. and England.  At first, I couldn't understand why they'd want to talk to me.  I soon figured out though, that they're just people.  They're just regular men like any other I've ever known.  By the end of the night, I'd heard all about the wedding of Michael's daughter the summer before, at The Four Season's Hotel, and about London from Elkon.  They'd heard that Fibromyalgia was a neuroimmune disorder, and what living with it or autoimmune diseases such as Lupus really was like.  They'd heard about my desire for advocacy.  The night ended with me receiving hugs from everyone, an invitation for my friend and I to come spend a few days at Michael's estate, and an invitation from Elkon's wife for my friend and I to come to London any time we wanted, and spend time with her and Elkon, there.  It was a night like none I'd ever had before in my life-time.  Michael wanted his picture taken with me (for some unknown reason lol) so my friend took one with her cell phone.  When she forwards the photo to me, I'll post it.  

Stay tuned for Part II, my day in D.C., tomorrow.

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