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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
On September 11, 2001 my father was visiting from Seattle. My younger sister had gotten married just two days prior and my father had flown in from Seattle to attend. As he usually did, he spent time visiting with his seven kids scattered from Pennsylvania to Virginia during his trip east. Dad was staying with Paul and I at our old place on the Little River.
Paul owned two small cabins across the road from each other when we met and the first couple of years together were spent dividing our time between the two. When Dad came back with us from the wedding in in Northern Virginia, we set him up in the cabin Paul had named "Blue Moon" while we stayed stayed across the one-lane dirt road at "Key West". (I know, it's too gay for words.)
Paul had left for work when I got up to start the coffee and turned on the TV. As I watched Katie Couric reporting that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I called Dad on the phone and told him to turn on the TV.
As I continued watching the coverage, a second plane shot past the back of Katie's head and into the second tower, exploding in a massive fireball. Like the rest of the world, Dad and I watched the morning's events unfold mostly in a stunned silence that was occasionally interrupted with speculation about who could have done this and why.
But we had more practical things to deal with that day. I was due back at work that night and Dad was supposed to fly from Roanoke to DC to meet another of my sisters, and continue his East Coast tour. All air traffic had been canceled and we needed to work out alternate transportation. No buses or trains were moving either that day as a precaution against further attacks.
I made several calls to car rental agencies and finally found one that had a few cars left. I drove Dad into Roanoke, MapQuest directions in hand. I handed him my cell phone and told him to stop frequently if he needed to. His fibromyalgia made it difficult for him to drive long distances and his designated driver, my stepmother, had already flown home. We alerted my sister of his alternate travel plans, said our goodbyes and I went home to get ready for work.
It seems trivial now, but I've heard that when you're going through a difficult time and everything is chaotic, doing something normal helps you to feel more normal. No one knew that day what an impact the 9/11 terrorist attack would have on the world. Addressing the immediate problem of getting my dad's visit back on track helped me to feel a sense of control on a day that the unthinkable happened.
What were you doing on September 11, 2001? Feel free to leave a comment.