Stat Counter

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Follow Me to D.C.

Dear Mom,

I think it was 1988 when you led your first group of 8th graders to Washington, D.C.

And it continued to be a tradition every spring until you retired, almost 25 years later.

I just spent a few minutes searching for the photo of the "Follow Me to D.C." t-shirt that inspired the title of this post. I can't recall which class that was...but I remember it was a year when your annual pilgrimage coincided with one of Leigh Ann's business trips to the capital city.

As she told it, she commandeered the microphone and offered the kids $5 or $10 for the shirts -- which had your photo on the front and the "follow me" text on the back. We thought they were such a hoot! I think you were a little less thrilled at the prospect of your mug shot trotting around town.

Wonder if anybody still has one? I think L.A. and I both sent ours to the rag bag years ago.

I hit Facebook and found a few classic photos of you directing traffic...

The photo above came with this fun fact from one student:
I got sick in the national gallery of art and miss Cheryl told me to yak on my plate when we were eating lunch at the I did!

One of your traditions was to make up a list of "firsts" for each group. I think that's such a neat idea -- I'm not sure when you started it, but it's a lovely way of realizing you can ALWAYS find something new, no matter how many times you've been somewhere.

Becky Reep posted the sweetest comment on this one:
 I remember the sweetest and most respectful prayer Miss Cheryl prayed at Monticello at the slave burial area in honor of those buried there. It was a pretty day like this and the birds were singing and miss Cheryl nailed it. Love and respected Miss Cheryl even more that day. That moment sticks with me even today.

Your D.C. trips were a huge part of your legacy...even the time you retired, you were sorta like this about most school stuff...

I'm sure you'd kill me for posting that photo, but Leigh Ann and I thought that shot from your retirement luncheon was so quintessentially YOU.

Anyway, as you and our loyal readers know, Leigh Ann and I have spent the year scattering your ashes in places that either were or would have been meaningful to you. I debated a bit whether D.C. should be included...most of us wouldn't want our "work stuff" to define our resting place. But we decided it was such a special place to you, we couldn't not let it be one of our six destinations this year.

So, off we went this week. Leigh Ann had a work trip that we planned around...and we even got Miss Betty to agree to join us! Here's a shot of all of us in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, which was beautifully decorated for the season.
 LA had to work on Wednesday, so MB and I hit the streets. It was cold, but we bundled up.

We had dinner at Jaleo, a sampling of Spanish tapas including dates, croquetas, tortilla. patatas bravas, steak etc.

Thursday morning, Leigh Ann worked and I wrote, while MB enjoyed exploring on her own. We met up for lunch. I ordered these scrumptious pork shanks. 
Then, we were off for the main purpose of our trip: finding the best spot to scatter your ashes. We started our walk toward the Tidal Basin and the major monuments.

I'd not been to the FDR Memorial, and I'd been intrigued by the fact several students had reminisced about your "Why water?" exercise there. So, I'd wondered if it might make a nice resting place for you. Plus, Eleanor is certainly one of our most noteworthy First Ladies, and you DID love studying about them. (We'd briefly pondered whether we could scatter your ashes near Jackie O's grave in Arlington, but I figured you'd not want us to break any rules.)

FDR was a strong leader who faced tremendous adversity. I was fascinated by the Ken Burns documentary series about the Roosevelts this year; several historians commented about what terrific strength it took for FDR to remain upbeat and strong despite his polio. That makes me think about how brave you were all three times you faced cancer.

So, it felt like the perfect spot. Leigh Ann scattered your ashes here. We loved that the spot had both an old tree and a new tree, and we gave each one a healthy pour. So, you have a view of the Washington Monument straight ahead...
 And the Jefferson to the right. It will be a lovely place in the spring when the trees are in bloom.
I also found it sweet that this pagoda is there, a gift from the Japanese people. I consider it a little tribute to your smart, funny Japanese sister-in-law Nanami. It was presented in 1957. Maybe Aunt Debra can think of what y'all would have been up to that year.
From there, we visited the Jefferson Memorial, where we tried to figure out if we'd spotted Marine One flying overhead toward the White House. (There were two of them...isn't that the protocol for transport? These are the sort of questions we wished you'd been with us to answer!)
From there, we walked to the Museum of American History to see the exhibit about the First Ladies. Then we called it a day and ate some soup for supper. 

Friday, MB and I headed to Arlington. We amused ourselves doing some fourth grade math to figure out the subway. 
We visited the Kennedy grave sites, and it was poignant to me to see 1994 on Jackie's headstone -- 20 years since she died, the year I graduated from high school. I'll always remember that, since you'd saved in your "funeral file" the clipping from Maurice Templesman's reading of "Ithaka" at her funeral. Blucher read it so beautifully at your service.

Near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, we found the Challenger memorial. That's a day in history that bonds me to Miss Betty, as we were returning from the fourth grade trip to St. Augustine when the shuttle exploded. I heard it on my little transistor radio but didn't understand the impact until we got back to the parking lot, and all the parents were crying.
We hated to miss the changing of the guard at Arlington, but the timing didn't work out. We had a unique invitation we couldn't turn down! Darrell Goodman saw we were in town, and he invited us to his restaurant, Mama Rouge in Georgetown. He gave us the VIP treatment -- first came calamari with spicy mustard and shrimp dumplings.
 Bao buns with pork belly.
 Sticky glazed salmon -- this was probably my favorite!
 A sampling of barbecued chicken, steak and brisket.
It was amazing! There was an orange chicken dish I didn't capture. We were stuffed by the end...and so full of pride at his talent and success. What a sweetheart to take care of us like that! It was the icing on the cake of a perfect trip.

They flew out that afternoon, but I stayed over Friday night to see Hilary and the adorable little Molly bug. I also got to meet Scotty and her new baby boy, Jude. 
Saturday we had brunch with Caroline and Angelina. 
I felt like you would have blessed the whole trip...or that you were there with us, blessing it in your own way. Funny enough, as I went through the old trip photos on Facebook this evening, I read that handwritten list. The last one caught my eye: the Willard Hotel. Not sure what your little "moment" there would have been, but that's where we stayed. A #cssthing for sure.

I am full of gratitude knowing that you are with me and within me at all times, in all the best ways. 



No comments: