The last week was quite the week!! I almost went to Chicago. I attended a birthday party for someone I didn’t know, I participated in a fabulous dedication service at church and I attended my beloved annual ASIS security seminar and exhibits, though only a shortened version. Tim convinced me to drive the ten hour trip as opposed to our original plan to fly after all our flights were canceled due to the ongoing problem in Chicago. Throughout the last 7 days, I felt a lot like Norm from the old television show Cheers,where every day after work he’d walk into a bar named Cheers and everyone would simultaneously yell “Norm!!” He’d smile, head straight to his barstool and order his favorite beer.
When everyone knows your name you feel special and at home even if you don’t know the people all that well. Last Friday September 26th I spent most of the day at National Airport with thousands of other people who were trying to get to Chicago after a suicidal man purposely started a fire in a FAA tower stranding thousands of passengers for days. A woman named Cheryl was supposed to sit across from me on our original flight so we had boarded, then unboarded the plane together. Cheryl and I hung out at the airport the entire day, hoping and praying together that we’d get to our destinations, though neither of us did. We plugged in our laptops and got work done during the long hours of waiting. We watched each other’s phones and laptops when we purchased food, went for short walks or used the restrooms. We held each other’s spot in line as we tried to get a flight any way possible. When we finally departed the airports for our homes, we hugged goodbye as if we had known each other forever. I’ll never forget Cheryl or her name.
The very next day I represented the Alzheimer’s Association at a 50th birthday party for a gentleman with early onset Alzheimer’s. It was such fun and his wife really made what could have been a really depressing occasion into a joyous celebration. I distributed Alzheimer’s literature and answered questions and enjoyed the loving family atmosphere for four hours, which lasted way past my bedtime! I never got tired because I was excited to be part of the experience of a night to remember for Gerald. His wife is an extraordinary woman who has much hope for Gerald’s future and is convinced that they will have more joyous days than sad ones. As I was leaving for the night, Gerald yelled out after me, “thanks Loretta”. The fact that there were more than 100 people in attendance at his party that he knew well, even with his struggle with a horrible disease, he remembered my name! It’s a moment I’ll remember forever.
Then last Sunday at St Mark’s we had a glorious service to dedicate the completion of the Parish House. With my co-vergers Jan and David, we served with our Rector Paul and Associate Rector Justi and Mariann, the Bishop of Washington to dedicate all of the new rooms and areas in the Parish House. I haven’t had that much fun in a service in a long time. So many amazing people worked tirelessly over the last few years to make last Sunday come to fruition. For much of the pre-service preparation, people were constantly calling my name in order to ask questions or raise concerns. It was organized chaos…. but a truly emotional and unforgettable day!
Tim and I rushed from church immediately after the church photo and made the drive down 95 south to Atlanta. I was really dreading the drive but it was so much fun!! Thanks to Tim I arrived in time enough to get a great night’s sleep to be ready for the whirlwind ride also know as the ASIS Seminar and Exhibits!!! The two days we spent there were awesome. Lots of work and interacting with so many folks who ALL know my name and are constantly calling on me for introductions, advice and just to catch up. It can be hard to catch my breath sometimes but it was amazing fun, though overwhelming at times too. There were two highlights of the seminar for me. One of them was pure fun at the Atlanta Aquarium where we ran around like little kids all night….
The other involved meeting two extraordinary women at the Tuesday ASIS luncheon. They were the security management team of the Georgia World Congress Center where the ASIS Seminar was being held. Not only did these two women NOT know my name, they had never even heard of me, which by Tuesday afternoon was refreshing!!!!! I asked to sit with them for lunch because for an hour I just wanted to be with folks who would engage in great lunch conversation as opposed to talking about ASIS. Selecting their table was an excellent decision and we had a very special time. Because the luncheon featured recognition of current and former ASIS Leadership, my background was revealed. My two new friends were so impressed when they learned I was the first African-American ASIS Board member and they commented right away about the fact that everyone who passed our lunch table “knew my name!”. They came to my session after lunch and I introduced them to everyone so they would feel included and valued, because they were tremendous women. The next day, they both sent me individual emails thanking me for being such gracious to them and for making them feel special!! It was the best time ever and I plan to stay in touch with them.
Bottom line is that we all feel special when folks know and use our names….. It’s confirming of our identity and recognition that people care enough for us enough to address us by name. There are times that I love it when people know my name and other times when I prefer to blend in and remain anonymous. Do you ever wish you could be anonymous? And how does it feel when others don’t call you by your correct name? That used to be a huge pet peeve for me, especially when someone confused me with another African-American because we all “look alike”, but as I’ve gotten older I just correct the person and let it go.
There is one person I wish I could share last week’s adventures and accomplishments with and have a laugh and smile together about them, and that person of course is my Mom Doris. She’s been on my mind all week, because as we all know, sometimes you just want your Mom. After the trauma and the many, many flight cancellations my Mom surely would have had words of consolation if she could understand what had occurred. After my presentations and much fun at ASIS my Mom would have been so proud of me and would have given me words of wisdom too, but with the invasion of dementia in our lives, a normal conversation is not to be. It’s funny how the one person I’d give anything to hear her call me by the name she gave me, probably never will call my name again…..and my name is a word, a sound I truly miss hearing from my Mom so much more than I can really explain. Thankfully, though many other people know my name and for that, I’m grateful!
Whew! What a whirlwind set of days and duties! And my sense of it remains true even though I knew about all of it from you and Tim while you were on the go and in the midst of it all!
Now, my dear sister, I am going to encourage you to write/blog more often. One reason? So that you can share your adventures (and they, indeed, ARE adventures) one at a time. Second reason? In so doing, you can share in greater depth. Third reason? In sharing in greater depth, you can take us with you (and, of course, for ourselves) into the journey, for example, of what it is to be called by your (our) name. A powerful, powerful reflection.
But whether one at a time or all together, I thank you for letting us all in on “a-day-in-the(your)-life”! Amazing!
Paul, YES!!!!!!! Thank you!!! I’m trying desperately to blog more frequently and I actually have YOU to thank for that!! I’m amazed at how fabulous you are at blogging (though we had to drag you kicking and screaming at first)!!
All your reasons are incredibly valid AND most valuable to me!! If I had written each event in real time, so much more of the raw emotion would have been captured!
I wanna be just like you when I grow up!!! Thank again!!
Loretta I’m so happy I experienced most of the adventures with you. My life with you is so complete. I can’t thank you enough. My love for you is endless. Keep up the experiences and I will always be by your side.
Tim, we’ve been on the BEST ride ever!! Especially since we purchased Memory Maker!!! Let more good times roll!!!!! I’m sure they will since we have little camper Kendal with us too!! Woo Hoo!! Thanks for being by my side!!
Love you too!!