Saturday, September 11, 2010
My Mom's 50th Birthday
I had great plans for my mom's 50th birthday. That's one of those milestone birthdays and I felt like she deserved a special celebration. My dad isn't a party planner and since I live out of state, I don't know their social network. Planning a party was out of the question. Instead, I decided to take the day off work, drive to Cincinnati and spend the day with my mom. We would go shopping and out to lunch. And it would be just the two of us. I was very excited about the day and my plans. I was going to treat my mom and take care of her. The day was sunny, the weather gorgeous. It was the perfect day for the 2 hour drive. I left my apartment a little after 8. I was listening to the radio, enjoying the sunshine, windows down. It was a great morning and was going to be a great day! Around 8:50, the DJ on the morning show I was listening to reported something about a plane crashing into a building in New York City. I didn't think much of it- I assumed they meant a small prop plane or something. The news quickly changed tone and the eyewitness reports poured over the airwaves. I had no cell phone and was in the fields of Indiana. I thought about stopping at the halfway point to go into the Wal Mart and see their TVs but since I couldn't call anyone to let them know why I was late, I decided to just keep driving. I couldn't imagine what was happening, what it looked like. For the next 90 minutes of my drive, I listened to Peter Jennings on the radio and I cried and I was scared and I was worried. I arrived in Ohio and rushed for the TV. I watched, dumbfounded. And it was still my mom's 50th birthday. We watched as much of the news as we could. The repeated airing of the planes, the crashes, the buildings. The next day, I would learn that a man I worked with lost his brother- Lieutenant General Timothy Maude- at the Pentagon. At the time, one of my responsibilities was assisting the management of our fleet of vehicles for our sales force. My contacts with our car insurance company worked in the Towers. I saved the insurance cards that we used to send out to drivers because of the address on them. But for that day... we had to make a choice. It was my mom's birthday. Terrorists had attacked and no one knew what was going to happen next or if it was over. Did we lock ourselves in the house or did we keep on living? We attempted going out. We went to the mall and within 5 minutes of walking in, they announced that the mall was closing. The drive back to my mom's house was eerie- everything was closing and quiet. I drove back home far earlier than expected. And I spent the rest of the evening with Jeff, watching coverage, in shock, sometimes crying. 9 years later, I feel like my mom never got the 50th birthday celebration that I'd planned for her. We didn't get that special day. I'd been so excited to take her out- I was living on my own, I was independent and going to treat her with my own money that I'd earned at my job. I've thought about trying to make the plans for her birthday again but it hasn't ever worked for a variety of reasons. Next year, she will turn 60. The country will be remembering the 10th anniversary of 9/11. And I'm going to take my mom out to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her 50th birthday. I guess the silver lining is that I will always think of 9/11 as my mom's 50th birthday- no matter what year it really is!