It was a chilly morning just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, 2004.
We were standing at the ticket counter at our local metropolitan airport. There was no one beside, or behind us.
My son was a junior in high school. He was flying to Washington, D.C. for a leadership conference being held in our nation’s capital. He already had his ticket so he stepped aside. No big deal for him…
As for me? This would be a very different story…
We had survived a cruise and flight home during Tropical Storm Bill the previous year.
Although he had never flown alone, he was very capable of doing this all by himself. I did; however, sense some nervousness. It was MY nervousness! I felt anxiety build when we initially walked through the front door of this small, quaint, but very beautiful airport.
Me…being his mom, had a strong tug on my heart to go through security and sit with him while he waited for his flight to depart.
It had been several years since that fateful day…September 11, 2001…
The rule of sitting in the terminal with loved ones had long been abolished.
I do not have a fear of flying. I have flown many times and actually like it. As his mom, I did have a fear of putting my only son on an airplane all by himself.
All I imagined was a cold welcome…someone holding a little white sign with Cody’s name on it. There would be no warm, smothering hugs and kisses…OK…THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT!
Upon his arrival to D.C., he would be whisked away in the waiting car of a perfect stranger. It suddenly seemed like a terrible idea to be depending on this stranger to find my son in a crowd and get him to the place he needed to go. What was I thinking? I must be crazy!
Of course, with all of the ridiculous thoughts running through my mind, I at least wanted to go as far as I could with him for my peace of mind. Escorting him to the security line was not far enough for me.
Me…being me, asked the ticket agent, “What would it take for me to go through the security line and sit with my son for the next hour and a half?”
I did this totally off the cuff. I wouldn’t know the answer unless I asked the question.
She cordially smiled and seemed regretful when she told me that she couldn’t…there was no way…this is against the rules…we are no longer allowed to do this… and so forth, and so on. I barely remember exactly what all she said, but her explanation was so professionally given.
Since she was so delightful in her explanation, I figured I would be just as nice! I pleasantly engaged her and had this long spiel planned out in my little ‘peanut’ brain.
All I could muster up was, “Please?” I felt tears swelling in my eyes, but I refused to allow them to fall.
My pleasant “please” was not enough? You’ve got to be kidding me! Come on people! This is serious! Surely they would understand my quandary as well.
I certainly understood the complexity of all of the new safeguards in place at airports. I truly appreciated them all, especially since my favorite son would be flying all alone today. (I only have one son.)
My husband sensed my inner angst and stepped in on my behalf. No one was mad or upset, and no one ever raised their voice in the least. Our entire exchange was whispered, very cordial, and discreet. I do not even think my son heard the entire conversation and he was only standing a few feet away.
My knight in shining armor asked the ticket agent what it would take to allow me to go back and sit with my son.
She said, “Sir, you would need to purchase a ticket to Washington, D.C. for the same flight.”
Without batting an eye, he pulled out his wallet and so calmly asked, “How much is a ticket?”
I believe she could’ve said $5,000, and he would’ve agreed to pay it, and no, we are not wealthy. She said, “Excuse me?”
He repeated himself. “How much is a ticket to Washington D.C.?”
“Are you serious?” She said in an incredulous tone.
He pleasantly said, “Yes ma’am. My wife wants to go back and sit with our son while he waits for his flight and if that’s what it takes to make her happy, then that’s what I would like to do. How much is a ticket?”
This is the moment I felt a ray of sunshine bursting through my soul. Pride, you may ask? Yes indeed! This was my guy, my husband, my hero. I no longer had that gloomy, defeated feeling on the inside. Of course, I’m sure this feeling exuded to the outside as well. I stood up straight, squared my shoulders, and had a slight grin on my face.
She quickly did the opposite of me. She relaxed her shoulders and cocked her head to one side. She looked at me with her pretty eyes. At this point, she did have a big smile on her face, but she was now fighting back a tear or two.
She said, “Hold on just a minute.”
She turned, and all I saw was her long hair gently blowing behind her when she went behind the wall.
I thought she was going back to compose herself, which was fine. I needed to do the same.
“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” I asked my husband. I had no idea he would entertain the idea of purchasing a ticket for me to just sit in the terminal for a little more than an hour.
He was so calm, cool and collected. He saw that his proposal to buy a ticket, a quick prayer, and good faith, may be just the ticket we needed. A couple of minutes passed before she returned from around the wall.
She told us that she had spoken with her supervisor and she needed my driver’s license. I was waiting for her to ask for his credit card but she never did. He confidently winked at me. At this point, he knew he wouldn’t be paying for another ticket. He is quite charming when he does this kind of stuff.
I handed her my driver’s license and she disappeared again. I shrugged my shoulders and probably made a funny face at him.
“What just happened?” I asked. His confidence is adorable, but more importantly, very reassuring.
The excited ticket agent came back with my driver’s license and a special printed pass for me to go beyond security to sit for the duration of our son’s wait. I’m not sure who was happier…me, or her!
Right there, I kissed Gerry, just like I would be boarding the plane and returning a week later, but in all reality, I’d be right back.
He told me he would be waiting for me in front of the security gate when I returned.
Our son was already calmly waiting for us. He knew that his dad made two ladies very happy that day, most importantly, his mom. He was probably shaking his head, and rolling his eyes wondering if I had gone a smidge over board. I think he knew I really needed to do this.
He looked so much like his daddy, standing there stoically with that passed down family trait of a very definitive jawline. He was wearing his high school letterman jacket with his carry on bag draped across his shoulder.
I was beaming due to the fact that my son and I would have the next hour to talk about anything, everything, or nothing.
Going as far as I could with him meant so much to me. I believe it did to him as well. He would have a safe, uneventful flight to and from Washington, D.C. I smothered him with warm hugs and kisses upon his return.
I will never forget the selfless love my husband exhibited for me that day. I only pray that our son learned something from all of this…not necessarily from the leadership conference, but from my hero…his dad.
I also pray that on that day, I reinforced as his mom, I will always go as far as I can with him, no matter what! The same goes for our daughter.
Life is a gift from God, but life is not always easy. Sometimes we must fight battles along the way. If given a choice, choose each battle wisely. If not given a choice, fight it with dignity and integrity.
I am blessed beyond measure…
I’ve learned throughout the years that my husband was in it for the long haul…through all that life had to throw our way. This is just another sweet story about him that makes me smile.
My oldest brother says, “Love is not a feeling. Love is action.”
My husband’s actions would be beneficial to me on this day in 2004. His actions would also prove crucial in my battle with rheumatoid arthritis. We would need to remain a cohesive unit to conquer each of my future battles.
Because of Gerry…my husband…my hero, I can honestly say, “I’M GOOD, I’M GOOD!”
We would be tested, but through it all, we would “carry on, and smile along the way.”
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 KJV (always)