Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My favorite things...

Jack through the porthole laying on the bunk inside the crew's quarters
People keep asking me what my favorite thing is from our English-Italian vacation.
I think over all the world-famous art we saw, the duomos in Florence and Sienna, the sunsets over the Arno River, the views from the towers we ascended, the lush Tuscan countryside, the sets and props for the Harry Potter movies, the stage show of "Wicked" in London.
I revisit the memories and the moments when I stood in one historic spot or another and I always come back to the same thing.
My favorite part was seeing Jack, our 7-year-old magical grandchild, the grandchild who ran right to me though it had been two years since we'd last seen him in real life.
Jack lives in middle England with his mum and dad and doesn't really understand why we don't pop over on the occasional Sunday for dinner.
He's happy to have us Skype him on Sundays and tell him jokes and read him stories.
He's enthusiastic about letters and presents from America but he's generally so far away that I have to settle for virtual hugs and kisses.
Ready, set, hug!
So, when we were deciding where to go and what to do for our 25th anniversary, there was really no question.
If we were going to make the arduous voyage over the ocean, we had to make sure the trip included seeing Jack.
The kid with his feet off the ground is Jack.
We arranged the schedule with his parents so he'd be out on holiday from school and so they could meet us in London for a bit. (I'm past where I'm comfortable with Marc driving in England.)
They brought in their caravan and camped outside the city.
We set up a meet at the London Zoo and a go at the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum.
On Saturday we took the tube, a train, and a walk and arrived a touch early and started scanning the queue outside the gates of the zoo.
I looked for a little tow-headed boy and his parents.
It got to be 10 a.m. and we hadn't see them yet. We walked up and down the line.
We looked over at the giraffes and tigers across the street. Maybe we'd come in the wrong way.
We looked some more.
Then, suddenly, there he was, taller than I remembered.
He started running toward us, a big smile on his face.
I opened my arms.
He ran into me and we hugged, blissfully.
We went on to see all sorts of sights. We toured the Cutty Sark ship, Jack slept in the crew quarters bunk and tried steering the boat.
Jack showed us the eels and the jellyfish and the poison frogs and butterflies that would sit on his hand in the aquarium. He played every game and he told us all sorts of things in his British accent. He sat with me in the back of the car and made up stories.
He let us buy him a racing car after taking a couple of long hours to choose just the right toy.
It was restorative and marvelous and, yes, the best part of a two-week trip!

Jack and Marc at the top of the Monument


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