Epilogue – Another Journey Continues

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Father and Son Cruise

A few weeks after returning, I gave birth to the kidney stone that had dogged me during the Mercury trip. I had another last month just for good measure.

I had a brief email exchange with “Ms. M.” from Celebrity. There was no mention of “Mr. M.”. I had written to him before the trip saying, “I assume somebody went out on a limb, inviting me on this voyage”. He wrote back something to the effect of “That is our job”. I hope he didn’t lose his over the Mercury trip.

Although Londonderry did not have a stellar season, Wells ended up as the leader in both scoring and tackles. He will be back next season.

I made the mistake of bringing home a Celebrity brochure about Alaska cruises. Kris spent several nights trying to decode the myriad of excursion options.

“How are you ever supposed to choose? This is so confusing.”

I looked through the brochure briefly, and got dizzy.

“I want to go,” she said.

“Moot point,” was my incorrect answer. She gave me an icy stare – downright glacial. I tried to recover. “I’ll start a little vacation savings account and maybe we’ll go for our 30th”.

By December, thoughts of Alaska dissipated – we had our own glacier on the back deck. Our ‘actual’ 25th anniversary was on December 17th. From the refrigerator, I retrieved the bottle of champagne that we bought on the Galaxy trip in July. We toasted the memories while I made Filet Mignon Celebrity from the recipe obtained at the culinary demonstration. Later we pretended that our bedroom was a Sky Suite. I’ll leave it at that…

Ryan called regularly and gushed about the trip. It clearly had a big effect on him. He eventually got around to reading the story of the first cruise and then of his own trip. After that he would bug me about posting additional chapters. At one point, I went on strike until he developed some of his pictures for me. Most of them are still undeveloped.

The restaurant in Philadelphia where Ryan worked went belly-up in December. I wrote elsewhere about his 4 Marine Reservist friends who were called to duty for the war in Iraq. They are all well, but are being shipped to Okinawa for six months – I hope that doesn’t mean what I think it means… The guys were partners in a thriving landscaping business. The remaining partner called Ryan to ask if he would come up to New Hampshire to help keep the company going. In March, Ryan returned to the roost ‘temporarily’ to help him out.

Shortly after arriving in New Hampshire, Ryan received a frantic call from one of his housemates. The landlord had decided to sell the townhouse, and wanted everyone out by May 1. Panic ensued.

Some may remember the side story about Kris’s parents. Her father, Dave, has Alzheimer’s disease and her mother, Pat, has borne an incredible burden for the last 5 years. It may be coincidence but after reading the Galaxy story last summer, Pat suddenly decided to look into full-time care for Dave.

Earlier this year, Kris’s childhood home was sold. Kris, Wells and I went to Philadelphia over April school vacation to catalog and pack up Dave’s collection of toy trains. It took the three of us five 12-hour days to do it.

Our plan was to rent a truck and bring the trains back to New Hampshire, where I would figure out how to sell the collection. While in the area, I reasoned, we could do Ryan a favor and pick up at least the large items from the townhouse. It looked like he’d be staying with us for a while.

I got the truck and we drove in to the city. One of Ryan’s roommates, Adam, met us at the door.

“We’re here to pick up Ryan’s furniture. Can you point out what belongs to him?”

“Sure. Just about everything is his,” replied Adam.

I assumed he was kidding. Ryan had nothing when he got out of the Marines, and I assumed that he’d have little more a year and a half later.

Adam was not kidding. With the exception of his roommates’ beds, virtually everything belonged to Ryan. Two couches, 2 desks, bureau, at least 10 chairs, a dining table, coffee table, several side tables, lamps, rugs, television, cello, guitar, stereo, mirrors and more. These items were conveniently dispersed throughout the four-story townhouse. The staircases were about two feet wide, steep as ladders and winding.

Much later that day, we were done. I hadn’t packed tightly, and the entire truck was full.

“Thanks for your help,” I said to Adam.

“What about the organ?” he replied.

Yes, that’s right. Ryan had somehow acquired an organ, and it was on the second floor. We went up to scope out the job. While Adam and Wells began to move the thing, I stepped into a large walk-in closet at the top of the stairs to look for more stuff.

“You mind if I close this door for a minute?” asked Adam as the boys approached the staircase. “We can’t get by with the door open.”

“Sure. Go ahead.”

The door closed and I was plunged into darkness. I could hear the guys struggling with the organ.

“%$*#(&%#. It’s stuck!”

Before getting down one step, the organ had become wedged in the narrow staircase. There was not enough room to open the door, so I was stuck in the closet for 10 minutes while the boys dismantled the handrail and coaxed the organ to move.

The next day, in the rain, we took everything out of the truck, packed in the 150+ boxes of toy trains, and repacked the furniture. After that experience, I’ll bet I can pack everything needed for a 10-day cruise into an overnight bag. I have put the 10-hour ride back to New Hampshire right out of my mind.

Two weeks ago we moved Kris’s parents into a fantastic facility in York Harbor, Maine. The main building mimics the grand hotels of yesteryear. Pat lives in a cooperative apartment, and Dave receives full-time care in a medical unit elsewhere in the same building. The interior of the place reminds me of a cruise ship. There is even a grand dining room.

We’re all back home now. The garage is full of Ryan’s furniture. He will work until fall, and enter school locally to pursue his interest in radiology.

In the Sunday paper last week was an article about two short cruises being offered out of Boston. RCI’s Serenade of the Seas will be making its debut here. A travel agent has chartered the whole ship. I suggested to Kris that we book the Royal Family Suite and take our mothers. I came very close to booking before Kris reminded me that we really couldn’t afford it. I knew that, but it was fun to imagine.

I have reminded Ryan several times that he really ought to write up a summary of his impressions. I will keep bugging him until he does, and when he does, he’ll post it here. Maybe some of you can pressure him…

Video

I have posted a few more in recent weeks:

Dolphins (Galaxy trip)- Kris does tricks with the dolphins at Xcaret. A little silly…click here for Windows Media Format.

Unrelated to cruising, these are just for fun. The first one is a classic – ‘extreme’ sports as ballet.

Loitering – A few years back, my son Wells (the one with the helmet in the video) took my camera and recorded himself and his buddies rollerblading and skateboarding at the local strip mall – which is posted against such things. For punishment, I put together this “embarrassing” video. Click here for Windows Media Format.

The Chase – Ryan has moved back in with us, and brought his bird-dog ‘Joe’. The surprise was all Joe’s when we unleashed our dog-bird ‘Q’, a cockatoo. Click here for Windows Media Format.

I’m still working on Swimming with the Rays (Now complete, click here)– This clip documents our day on Grand Cayman. We took an excursion which combined snorkeling and a swim with the stingrays.

These videos and all the rest can be accessed from the video page on my website.

Web site

I have just added a section on a little hobby of mine – the Garden Railroad. An oddity for sure, the railroad occupies about 3000 square feet in my back yard. It is complete with mountains, valleys, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and villages. The neighbors think I’m nuts, but they don’t know the half of it…

Also there is a complete list, with photos, of Dave’s toy train collection – a preview of my upcoming life on Ebay. And I would be honored if you would sign my Guest-Book.

My Confession

My real name is not Chesterh, nor is it Chester. Legally I am Richard H. However, I do go by Chester in every day life. It is a nickname that has been with me since childhood. If I hear Richard or any variation in public, I don’t even turn around.

Otherwise, you have been an unrestricted party to a truly amazing chapter in our lives. The vast majority of the experience has been a blast, and my family thanks yours for the pleasure.

Conclusion

We are back on our regular vacation schedule, so I expect to return here in 5 years to share another cruise adventure. Hopefully many of you will be here and perhaps some of us will meet aboard a cruise ship. I look forward to it.

All the best,

chesterh, et al
Londonderry, NH

The end?

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