Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is your "Titanic" story?

Okay, I admit the title was designed to make you "read on". But, it was prompted by remembering moments in my life that might never have taken place had it not been for some other unforeseen event I had no control over.

And, yes, there is a "Titanic" story to my life...one that I was unaware of until just a few years ago when I was told by my sister, Avril, that our grandfather...our father's father...was a pianist and was commissioned to play on the maiden voyage of the Titanic in April of 1912. But, he missed the boat train. When researching the web for a photo of that infamous ship, I was taken with the story of the photographer of this photo. It is a great story and I'll link you to it here. His story is another example of "what if"...

That was the first of several "what ifs" that thread through the pattern of my life's story. The next "what if" would be: "What if my mother's father hadn't been late to pick her up at the dock when she sailed from America to England in 1943?" She wouldn't have met the young RAF airman who asked if she needed help. And later, when she had left the airman and decided it was too difficult to be a single mother, "What if her father hadn't been 'on time' in the lawyer's office while she was signing adoption papers for a childless English couple to get a 2-year-old daughter?"

I've often wondered "What if my mother hadn't moved from New Jersey when I was 15 and was just finishing high school?" I would have remained eligible for the scholarship I'd been given to attend what was then Ryder State Teachers College.

"What if my best friend Marcia in Florida hadn't become a Delta flight attendant in 1964?" I would never have been encouraged to try it myself. And "What if my foot hadn't fallen asleep and I practically fell over when my interviewer asked me to walk across the room?" Did my humor at my own awkwardness help? (I guess it did.)

I think I may have already written about how Joe and I met, but that certainly is another: "What if Vicki D's roommate hadn't stayed so long at the San Diego Zoo on February 3, 1967?" (She would have gone on the blind date instead of me.)

That leads to another "what if" moment that our daughter Michelle experienced. As a Delta flight attendant, she occasionally meets former Naval aviators who knew her Dad. On one occasion the Captain called Michelle into the cockpit and asked, "Are you related to Joe Sarnecky?" When she said she was his daughter, he said, "Well you probably want to come over here and shake my hand. I was the helicopter pilot that picked him up out of the water off the coast of North Vietnam in 1968." If he hadn't been there, Joe might have ended up in Hanoi. She gave him a hug!

I know you've all read the stories about the people who would have been at "ground zero" if it hadn't been for something that caused them to change their routine that morning. We have one of those stories in our family too. Michelle was in California with her boyfriend, Mike, to attend a Chargers/Redskins game. Because our son-in-law, Neal, and Mike were both Redskins fans, Joe had purchased tickets for the six of us to attend the game on September 9, 2001. Had Mike not come out for that California vacation, he would have been arriving at the subway station at the Twin Towers to go to work at the building across the street. Happily, he was here instead and is now our son-in-law.

I had some other topics in mind for today, but I have been thinking about this topic since our cruise to Halifax where many victims of the Titanic are buried. The alternative might have been a "rant" on television ads that precede election day (I didn't want to put you through that).

I hope this post has sparked that part of your memory where you keep the "what ifs" of your life. If it did, consider doing what I have done this morning...I said a heartfelt "thank you, God" for all those moments and all those people who were His instruments and brought me to this wonderful place in my life.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Updates and corrections...

Like every endeavor in life, every now and then you need a "do over". I'm using this blog to correct and/or clarify some things I've written in the past couple of weeks.

First - I am not a "true reality TV junkie"...I have to qualify that statement. I DO watch Survivor, Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and, yes even Big Brother. On cable, I enjoy Top Chef and many of the Food Network reality shows...they are more like travelogues.

I DO NOT watch: [fill in the blank with name of city] Housewives. I do not watch any show exploiting people who have an inordinate number of children or young people living together and letting TV cameras follow their every boring move. I absolutely NEVER watch a show with a very strange-looking man wearing a giant watch around his neck (I accidentally caught a glimpse of that one and it made me think of the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland). If I offended any "15-minutes-of-fame" cable reality show, I apologize, but given their content I doubt they'll ever read this blog (the operative word being "read").

Next, I realized after my last post that I did have some photos from our Canadian cruise. Before Joe bought a new chip for his camera when we reached Halifax, he used my camera and got quite a few photos. This is a favorite and will probably appear on this year's Christmas card.

Real time update now...on Friday evening our daughter and her family arrived to spend the weekend. Saturday was an all day adventure to Julian for apple-picking. The lovely town of Julian is about a 90-minute drive on winding mountain roads and during September and October their peaceful community is "invaded" by all the city-dwellers seeking mountain air and home-made pies. As a result, we were shoulder-to-shoulder with a few thousand other "apple-seekers". When we finally got seated at a restaurant, the waitress said we had picked the busiest Saturday of the year. After lunch we decided not to wait in line at Pie Shop" for a famous Julian apple pie since the line waiting to get inside the shop was about an hour long. Off we went to the Raven Hill Orchard where we picked three bags full of apples and Jackie got many photos to choose from for their annual Christmas card. On the way home, we discovered another "Mom's" and stopped and got pies. It was a wonderful day that ended with three happy children enjoying cherry-apple-crumb pie with vanilla ice cream (yum!).

It's now Monday morning and the house is very, very quiet. I always forget in between visits how much energy exists in the bodies of three children! The giggles, shrieks (Ava is best but she's been doing it longer), shouting, laughing, and occasional crying (not very often) echoes in this empty house today. Joe is off fishing so it is accentuated. We usually go up to visit them rather than them packing up for five people plus the cocker spaniel so it was a real treat to have everyone here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another cruise...another story...but first a 50th Reunion

We returned yesterday from a two-week vacation that began with Joe's 50th high school reunion in Pennsylvania. If you are the spouse at a 50th (or any other "th") reunion, it's kind of like being a third thumb...no one needs one. But...it was great watching him interact with all the people who had been such a big part of his "youth". He had a terrific time and everyone was very nice to me. I found a couple of other spouses to talk to and thanks to the annual convention of Volunteer Firefighters for the entire state of Pennsylvania, we had some additional entertainment (their first and second-place winners of the marching band competition played for us). A local trio played and sang a lot of the "oldies-and-goodies" we both danced to in high school. It brought back lots of memories. Of course, I remembered my classmates I danced with...Joe remembered his...but his were all there!

I found myself wishing more than once that I had lost the 30+ pounds that is my goal. It seems most of his male friends from high school had either passed away or decided not to attend. But...every girl he dated in high school was there...and none of them brought male companions. I took several pictures for him with all the former girlfriends, but none will be posted here. This vacation will be remembered as "The Vacation of Everything-that-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong" with regard to Joe's camera.

First, while taking the aforementioned pictures, I got a message stating "Internal Memory Full". When Joe investigated, he found he had left the chip in his computer back in California! Since I knew I'd be taking pictures for him since I didn't need to be in any of them, I left my camera back at the hotel. So, we got just a few shots at the reunion.

But the saga doesn't end there. We left on our 7-night cruise to Canada with stops down the New England coast the day after the reunion. Got some great shots of The Intrepid aircraft carrier and Lady Liberty as we sailed out of Manhattan. We were at sea for a day and when we docked at Halifax, Canada it was easy to see how the Titanic ran into an iceberg...the fog was so thick we couldn't see the shore until the boat docked. It rained the whole day so there weren't any picture-taking opportunities. Joe went ashore because by then I was in the throes of a terrible cold. He found a drugstore and came back with enough remedies to last the week.

The next day St. John didn't offer much better weather but by early afternoon I was feeling well enough to go ashore. We spotted a restaurant that boasted steamed clams and lobster and ordered a bucket of clams apiece. I can't describe how disappointed we were when the first clam offered enough sand to fill half a teaspoon! The others were the same so after a brief souvenir shopping for a Christmas ornament (that's all I ever buy on cruises...no need for trinkets...and this way we relive our travels as we trim the tree), we returned to the ship to find something "sand-less" to eat.

At Bar Harbor, Maine it was raining hard and I was coughing harder so I stayed on board and slept while Joe saw the sights and returned with an ornament to make me smile. (I have to add that later that night I felt better and went to the casino and won almost $900...that's a great "tonic".)

In Boston the weather still didn't cooperate so once again I slept and Joe went ashore. The next day the sun finally found us and I was almost feeling human so we went ashore in search of a restaurant recommended by a friend. It turned out to be over a mile from the dock and when we got there we were greeted by a "Closed" sign on the door. Turns out they only open for dinner after summer season. :-( We found another restaurant recommended for their clam chowder and this time it was as advertised. The day couldn't have been prettier and Joe got some great photos.

Not to make the cruise sound like our worst ever...I have to say that if you're going to feel sick on board, the Norwegian Dawn is one of the nicest places to do it. First, they have "Freestyle Dining" so you don't have to eat at a certain time with the same 4 to 6 other people at every evening meal. If we had been assigned dining room seating, I probably wouldn't have gone to the dining room at all with my cough, which persists still. (Doctor assured me yesterday that I am not and was not contagious after the first three days; cold triggered bronchial asthma which I've had twice this year.) So, we didn't meet a lot of new people this time, but the food at our table for two was delicious. In addition, the entertainment on board was so good there were times we had to miss the main showroom to see one of the acts in the lounges. We're booked on another NCL in the near future and I can't wait (I'm going to get well and get a flu shot before then).

The morning after Newport, we docked in New York and Michelle and Mike picked us up. We went to their house to spend the rest of the day watching football with all the Sheracks. It was great to see Mike's parents along with his brother, sister, and cousin. We wanted to get a picture with everyone there so Joe went to his bag to get his camera. This is where the saga gets sad: the camera wasn't in his luggage! We've sent e-mails, posted on the Cruise Director's facebook page, Joe made numerous phone calls, and I've been wearing out St. Anthony with pleas to find the camera.

I probably don't have to put it in writing, but here's my rule for travelers: ALWAYS go back one last time to check the room/stateroom before leaving!