These are such scary and turbulent times we’re living in…Devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, growing racial tension, and yet another mass shooting. In my opinion the one thing we need to ensure isn’t turbulent in our lives is our relationships and our love of friends and family. We should never let our time with loved ones end without letting them know how much we love them because we never know when we are seeing someone for the last time. Just ask the friends and family of the 58 souls who went to a concert and never came back.
A Fabulous weekend with some of my cousins has just come to an end. My cousin Winnie and her husband David are visiting from Seattle. On Saturday I took Winnie and David to Mount Vernon. I’ve been there several times but I’d never been on the tour before this weekend. Part of our tour took us to the Slave Memorial about 200 yards from the tomb of George and Martha Washington which we really wanted to see! The Memorial was designed by Howard University architectural students and is set up in three rings – one ring each representing faith, hope and love. When we began exploring the beautiful memorial in a very peaceful part of the property, an employee made an announcement that a short program was about to begin. We were very excited and grabbed a seat with about 20 other people. Two African-Americans were in period costume and it was clear they’d be doing a performance of some sort. Then the employee asked for volunteers to read a tribute to three slaves who worked on the property. My cousin Winnie and I both volunteered to read and it was very emotional for both of us. I read about a slave named Doll. The two “actors” then performed Amazing Grace, in song and with a flute and afterwards Winnie and I were asked to place a wreath at the Memorial. It felt great to share this experience with Winnie. Given the current racial climate in this country, Saturday reminded me that even though there are no longer slaves in this country we still have a very long way to go for equality. As we walked away from the Slave Memorial we were very quiet. I think we were all thinking of the significance of what we’d just experienced.
On Saturday evening JoAnne and Bonita, two of our other cousins joined me, Winnie and David at Oceanaire Restaurant for dinner. We ate, laughed and caught up on our lives. We have such a small family so it’s very important to me that we stay connected! We are all very different individuals but we love each other just the same! My new life motto is Love Everyone You’re With – family, friends and even complete strangers!
On Sunday I joined Winnie and David for a lunch cruise on the Potomac River on the Spirit of Washington. It was supposed to rain, but it didn’t and after an excellent lunch we were able to enjoy the cruise from the top viewing deck. I had a great time pointing out all the important places and historical facts about DC, Maryland and Virginia for Winnie and David. I did get a little teary without Tim as the DJ played “At Last” by Etta James, one of our most favorite songs ever! But we did a group hug and I felt so much better.
Next up was the short drive to National Harbor where we met Kim and Kendal for ice cream! There was so many hugs and so much love, it was the perfect way to end our day!
For our last day together we spent most of the day at the Newseum!! It was my first visit there, but David and Winnie had been on a previous visit to DC! I absolutely Loved it!! Such incredible exhibits, video clips and Photos!! Some of the exhibits brought tears to my eyes, while others gave me the chills! Another marvelous time! My last full day with my cousins ended at BLT Steak in DC. The dinner was my Christmas present to Winnie and David as I knew they’d be coming to DC this year. BLT Steak was Tim’s all time favorite restaurant so of course we did a toast to Tim! The food was incredible as always and David said his prime rib was the best he’d ever had in his life!! I was thrilled that they loved the food! There was just one thing that was very disappointing, and that was the service provided by our waiter. BLT typically has amazing wait staff, and we observed our waiter being very friendly and cordial to several other tables before he came over to take our order. He stepped to our table and said “yeah”… I said “excuse me” and he said in the coldest possible tone “what can I get you?” I thought about saying “another waiter”. But I didn’t. The only difference between us and the other tables he was serving in such a friendly manner was that my cousins are an interracial couple. It was a celebration of family so we weren’t going to let him ruin our evening. None of us ever commented on the fact that he was as cold as ice until he gave us the bill. The fact that we all had felt it was confirmation for me… But we were bigger than he was. I gave him the same tip I would have given him if he had been as fabulous as the other waiters we’ve had at BLT. But I hope he knows he didn’t deserve it.
As I dropped Winnie and David off at their hotel we all laughed, hugged and said our goodbyes. I also smiled at the hotel staff I’ve been seeing almost daily since last Thursday. One of them said, “y’all must be good friends”. I said “actually, we’re family”. As I drove away, I smiled at how obvious our love for each other was! I also have friends I love more than life itself, and I always let them know. There have also been strangers I’ve met, especially RVers, who instantly have become friends. So if we’re authentic with the folks we come in contact with, love is easy to achieve. The only thing I’d change about our cousins weekend would have been our waiter at BLT. If I had the chance to share a word of advice with him, it would be to be kind and loving to everyone! My Mom taught me well and I’m liking my new motto – Love Everyone You’re With… For me, all of us loving each other can begin to erase the hate. That’s how we can make America great again!