It had all the necessary ingredients for another memorable experience, but most importantly, it contained the greatest element of all.
Close family relationships!
Before and immediately after Christmas, I thought and thought and thought some more, about making a short, pre-New Year’s trip, to the Washington, D.C. area. Once there, I would travel by car to Maryland’s historic Eastern Shore, via the massive Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and attend my nephew, Mark’s, wedding, along with my brother, C.H.’s, 85th birthday celebration, both occurring on the same day!
As an added bonus, I would activate my many time ace-in-the-hole advantage, the element of SURPRISE!!!
I had lots to consider, however, before launching my secret, proposed mission to the East Coast. One of the biggest hurdles to get past was going there alone; my bride, Debbie, would not be able to accompany me, due to it being in the holiday season, and all Our Town’s dog kennels were filled. Yes, no room for our famous, four-legged family members, Spanky and Tux, made rock stars by my bride, through social media. I also had to get the right airline flights to meet my schedule, and I had to line up my on-site ground transportation and lodging arrangements, once I got off the airplane there.
Being the seasoned traveler I am, though, once I made the 11th-hour, last minute decision to “go for it”, I telephoned my brother’s younger son, Patrick, and asked him if he could help his uncle (i.e., me) pull it off.
He said he and his wife, Adrienne, certainly could assist me, so I made it happen with a Southwest Airline non-stop round trip ticket from Oklahoma City (OKC) to BWI (Baltimore/Washington International) Airport. Automobile driver Patrick and his bride picked me up at the airport, and we were off, driving southeast to Easton, Maryland, where we checked in to our nice hotel. However, we didn’t get too settled, until we drove the short distance to the famous Harbour Inn in lovely St. Michael’s. There, the wedding party was staying, but not my brother and his wife, Chris, and their daughter, Jennifer and her family. The first round of the total surprise happened in the hotel’s cozy lobby, when both the bride and the groom to-be the next day, came downstairs, and saw me sitting there, talking to Adrienne and Patrick. Wow, they were totally shocked and over-joyed, outwardly apparent and symbolized with our BIG hugs and small screams heard throughout the small area!
Our small group of nine people, then drove to a nearby restaurant, Harrison’s, that is famous for its Eastern Shore seafood, and enjoyed a wonderful, 2-plus hours rehearsal dinner. We had great getting-to-know-you-better talks, laughed, and told several memorable stories. It was certainly a time for great family/friend bonding, held in a quaint venue. Afterwards, we dispersed back to our respective hotels to rest for the following big day.
After a relaxing morning, the activities at the Harbour Inn began in the early afternoon the next day. Everyone was scurrying around the beautiful venue, preparing for the late afternoon wedding that was attended by about 40 invited guests. The actual indoor room had to be lightly heated because of a slight, winter chill in the air off the open water. The wedding room was full of large windows that overlooked the famous harbor, and its many boats, buildings and a historic lighthouse. Once again, I was chatting in the hotel lobby, when my brother, his spouse, my niece and her spouse, and two children, came through the main entrance door, The surprise element was once again immediately ignited, with hugs and excitement everywhere! We were SO glad to see each other again; as in some cases, it had been several years since we had been together.
The wedding itself was almost magical, with one minor (?) exception. Two days before the ceremony, the bride, Martha Clark, had slipped and broken her ankle. Her broken lower leg had to be placed in a soft cast, and, thus, her post-break walking was severely restricted. Therefore, on her special day, she came down the aisle, beautifully dressed in her wedding gown, riding an electric scooter! The wedding dinner disc jockey later remarked in the 1,200 past weddings he had worked over many, many years, this was the first one in which the bride rode in on an electric scooter!
The wedding dinner that followed the ceremony, was held in a nicely decorated room immediately above the wedding venue. This event was a great, 3-hour social occasion, filled with delicious food, drink and entertainment. When it was announced by the disc jockey this day also was my brother’s 85th birthday, I made an impromptu brief statement via the microphone about how honored it was for me to be there for my brother’s big day, too. That was such a special time, I will remember forever!
The next day, Patrick drove Adrienne and me over an hour further southeast to the resort city of Ocean City, Maryland, on the shore of the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Here, we joined my niece, Jennifer, at her 3-bedroom beach condo. right on the open bay water, for an afternoon of family talking, laughing and, as always, lots of story telling, which always goes with our family genetics. I was truly fortunate to walk outside with my brother, and enjoy his company during a small, pedestrian tour of the waterfront neighborhood. Yes, I took lots of cell phone digital photos I will always cherish.
Later that evening, we returned to Adrienne and Patrick’s wonderful home in Rockville, Maryland, northwest of our nation’s capital, to spend my last evening, before flying back to OKC, and the short drive returning to Our Town.
“Surprise” mission accomplished. It was so gratifying to see my family’s happy faces when they saw me “pop” into our special moments in time on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Absolutely priceless!!!
Robert Breedlove is an Oklahoma State University news-editorial journalism graduate, and a former newspaper (including News Press) reporter. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.