Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The White House is "our house."
My brother Bob, his wife Sue, and grandson Luke are visiting us from Texas. As part of their trip, Bob had arranged for my wife Nancy, grandson Asher and me to join them for a tour of the White House. I had little in the way of expectations, except a vague feeling of apprehension. Truth be told, I expected to be herded, along with 20 or 30 other people, through a few nondescript rooms, and shown the door. The reality was quite different.
The day had started with me depositing Bob, Sue and Luke to the local Metro Station where they were wisped away for a day of sightseeing in our nation's capital. Nancy, a 6th grade teacher, continued her relentless attack on ignorance in the public schools. I remained at home, hoping to justify my self proclaimed title of trip coordinator. Surprisingly, I managed to get myself, Nancy and Asher to the parking lot of the agreed upon meeting place (ESPN Zone), without a single accident. We turned out attention to the tour.
Mindful of my condition (75 year old PWP -Person with Parkinson's), we took a taxi to the NW gate of the White House. Not so fast, Tourist. I should have said we told the driver to take us to the NW gate. We soon discovered he had dropped us off at the opposite side of the White House, instead. We walked, and walked and walked. I began wishing I was somewhere else. Eventually, we found the proper gate, met our guide and entered the White House Grounds. Although very happy to have made it, I noticed that my backside was dragging.
Thus began one of the most wonderful and, at the same time, draining experiences of my life. Our group consisted of the tour guide and the 6 of us. He was extremely knowledgeable with respect to the White House and the Presidents, as well. He was very personable and made us feel right at home. Indeed, we were constantly telling our two grandsons not to touch anything, and he simply reminded us that this was "our house". And despite the current environment of heightened cynicism and sarcasm, we found ourselves actually believing it.
My only regret was centered around the limitations imposed on me by Parkinson's, and to a lesser extent, my age. Although I wouldn't have missed the tour for the world, the walking and standing required made the tour extremely difficult. I should have brought or rented a wheel chair, and will do so when taking other tours. Another low point was when the batteries in my camera died and I hadn't remembered to bring spares. I like to think that wouldn't have happened a few short years ago. But all things considered, and after a day of rest, I'm ready for my next challenge. Tomorrow we go to Philadelphia to see the King Tut Exhibit at the Franklin Museum.