Irene called next door to send Susan down.
We got up, and headed next door to Maria's room, where the four of us shared two room service breakfasts. It was good stuff, and good company.
I said my goodbyes at around 10:30, and walked across the street to the parking garage, where I paid my $28.00 parking fee downstairs, and then desperately tried to remember where we'd parked last night.
I had 15 minutes from the time the ticket was paid to get out of the garage, and got a little panicky after not finding my car where I thought it was on the first attempt.
I thought, "Oh, it's in the same place, one floor lower, I'm pretty sure." It was.
I hadn't asked anyone how to get to I-93 South, but followed the road the only way I could out of the parking garage. After traveling about four or five blocks, I thought, I'd better ask somebody how to get to I-93 before I go much farther. For all I know, I could be going in the exact opposite direction of where I should be going.
I rolled my window down at a stop light, and yelled to a young woman on the sidewalk, and she replied, "I'm sorry, I'm not from here."
At the next light I called to two guys on the sidewalk, "Are you from around here?" Process improvement.
"No," they replied.
From that point that traffic got really busy, so I made my way over to the right lane to make it easier to stop and ask someone. Suddenly, the next light stopped just before the entrance ramp to I-93 South to the right. Yay!
At about 12:30, just before Providence, I pulled into a Taco Bell, went inside and got a plastic fork and some napkins, and ate my leftover Lobster and Crabmeat Ravioli from last night's dinner. It was the bomb.
On the road to get back to I-95 South, I passed a Wal-Mart, and as opposed to shopping there as I am after seeing Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices, I ran in to get some essentials -- Centrium and some deodorant -- both of which I was out of.
I got back to Uncle Frank's and Aunt Annette's at about 1:30, and had a nice reunion with Aunt Annette, since I hadn't seen her yesterday.
The three of us had the best afternoon, talking about all kinds of things -- important things -- in our lives.
Aunt Annette beamed as she talked about her daughter, and I, of course, wanted the whole story -- how it all came to pass -- and she obliged. In the course of that I learned all about how she met Uncle Frank, too.
I told her that I thought she really, really should tell my mother, and she said that she really didn't want to do it on the phone; that she wanted to be able to talk with her, show her pictures of Lisa, and so on, and that every time mom comes to see them she's either in for a short visit, or she's with Aunt Vivian and Uncle Nib.
I offered to facilitate, in any way I could or she wanted, to get my mom up here to visit her so they could have some alone time.
We talked about my growing up, when I knew I was gay, how I came out, and I asked Aunt Annette if she had ever suspected I was gay while I was growing up, particularly during the time I lived here with them. She said she didn't.
At various times during our heartfelt talks during the day, there were laughter and tears, but it all felt good.
We talked about mom and dad, their health issues, and the situation with Michael. I was surprised to learn that Michael and Lisa had visited them once early in their marriage.
I told them about the impetus of my trip being thinking a few weeks ago, "These are people who mean a lot to me, and I'd go up for their funeral if they died." And then immediately thought, "How ridiculous; you should go up there now, while they can still talk back to you." They told me that my parents were so lucky to have me as a son. Warmth.
All during the afternoon, the drinks flowed, and Uncle Frank was the consummate host keeping us fed, including some killer Chourico and Hamburger Torpedoes that he threw together for us. Aunt Annette had made it up yesterday, but he put it on the buns and served us. Delicious! Yum! Yum! Yum!
Aunt Annette made us some delicious ice cream sundaes for dessert, consisting of vanilla ice cream, fresh banana slices, whipped cream, and a touch of chocolate fudge syrup. We were all happy campers.
We sat down by the lake, and chatted some more, where Aunt Annette told me a great story about mom and dad and an old radio station show called "Late Date," that used to come on at 11:00PM, she thought.
When mom was about 16, she had met dad, who was already in the Marine Corps and he left to serve in Korea. Even though he couldn't hear them, she would call the local radio station late at night when the show came on, which took requests, and she would request love songs "To Manny, From Pauline."
When one came on, she would nudge my aunt (they shared a bed), "Annette, Annette, listen, here comes my request," sometimes waking her up.
Aunt Annette told me she even wrote letters to my dad to send with those from my mom. Bless her heart, she was only about 11, but she and my mom were close.
She got real excited telling me this story, especially the next part, and I was enamored as much with her telling of it as I was imagining my parents in a way I'd never before -- after all these years.
She continued, "Yeah, so she did this for so long that they pretty much got to know 'Manny and Pauline' on 'Late Date,' and the announcer eventually said at one point, 'Well, when Manny comes home, we hope you'll come down to the station, so we can meet both of you.'"
Then one night, on "Late Date," the announcer says, "Ladies and gentleman, you'll never guess who we have in the studio with us tonight. It's MANNY AND PAULINE!"
That just blows my mind. I couldn't help but think of them as some kind of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon celebrity couple or something. How absolutely wild.
She also told me about my mom was always buying a bag of cherries on the way home from work, intending on them being for both her and Aunt Annette, but that she almost always ate them all on the way home. She always saved her a few, though.
There were other stories about her (my Aunt), too. How she once went with a friend of hers into this place where the bookies did their thing. It turns out it was the girl's father who was the bookie. And, it turned out, that when Aunt Annette went inside, who did she find using the bookie? Her dad, my grandfather.
They both made a pact not to tell "Memere."
I went to bed at about 11:30 with a full day behind me, and a full heart in my chest, already so glad I made this trip.