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  • Writer's pictureKristie Sharp Williams

Mrs. Williams goes to Washington

As I am continuing to organize old posts (I estimate that I might have written about 500,000 words during the five-plus years of Eli’s fight), I came across one where Eli and I had been home for a visit during one of his relapse treatments. In it I wrote about putting Caleb to bed the night before Eli and I would be traveling back. In our bedtime routine conversation I explained to Caleb that I would be leaving for a while again.

He said, “Ok mama. So, does that mean that Daddy is in charge again?”

We are beginning day six (two of which were travel days) of my oldest daughter’s senior trip. It’s an 11-day field trip to Washington D.C., New York, and the New England area. Anticipation and preparation for this event has been high within Hg’s class and with her personally for a while as it is a decades-old tradition for seniors. My mom traveled with me on the same trip when I was a senior, and she traveled with my sister on the same trip when she was a senior. (Please, continue below the picture gallery.)

As our departure date loomed, I began to be anxious. Not just stressed about packing the right clothing — which I was for that, too. We are just not the kind of people that keep an array of choices in our clothing coffers, and by the looks of tomorrow’s weather in Newport, Rhode Island, we failed in packing the right clothing — but anxious for leaving and being gone that long from the kids left behind. Anxiety in that I had to make an effort to rein in my brain about it, especially as the trip became real. I almost think it was a touch of Post Traumatic Syndrome, PTSD.

Leaving the kids during Eli’s treatment and being out of their daily lives wore on me all those years I had to do it so many times. You don’t have kids expecting to be away from them. And 11 days is nothing compared to rounds of months at a time. But still, packing up, making arrangements for them, checking that they have phone numbers of my friends, making sure Vic and I are on the same page, checking for groceries, making sure that they have warm clothes pulled out of storage — it just bothered me to be going through that routine again. I’m a little calmer on the trip because, what can I do, and I want to make sure that Hg has a special time, she deserves it. I keep reminding myself of this opportunity that I have with her.

Reason number three, it is simply a fantastic trip. We miss so much worrying about things that don’t happen or that we can’t affect. It’s not just an opportunity for Hg, but it is for me, too. The only thing I remember from our senior trip, besides what a picture might conjure up, is that during our visit to Chinatown I saw an ashtray that said “Put Your Butt Here” and it was shaped like a little bottom. I thought that was the funniest thing I had ever seen, and obviously still remember it. Yes, we went to historical places, toured museums, but I was 17 and not the student Hg is. History is a potential college major for her, plus she and I enjoy following political news, so this trip is truly a treat for each of us and a treat for us together. And, a professional tour company could not do better than these organizers have done in moving 72 people, half teenagers, around to and through the cities and to the places we are visiting.

We spent two days in Washington D.C. starting with The Bible Museum. Really needed more time here, just kind of had to run through it and it was overwhelming. There was so much history of the book, translations etc., just too much to comprehend in the time allowed. It was fascinating. The same situation with the Holocaust museum. What a somber enlightenment that was, and it really needed to be studied, but time was short. Well done. Overwhelming in content and in emotion.

We toured the National Archives to witness the original Constitution of the United States. Chills seeing the original signatures. Then we breezed through the Museum of American History where we saw the Ruby slippers, and cookie monster. At this point in the early evening of the first day the clouds gave way, so we toured the monuments in the cold rain at night, but they were no less impressive.

Day two was big and meaty. Because Hg has a top grade in her government class, she was chosen as one of the four to present a wreath on behalf of the school at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Very proud of her and for her. She earned that spot, there was no popular vote, she earned it because of her interest in government and consequently her hard work in the class. She was honored to be a part of such a moving ceremony set against the background of marble markers at Arlington.

While en route to D.C., our organizers received word that our group had gained a spot to tour the White House. I know!! So, we had to dart away, as much as a group on two busses can dart, to hit the time slot offered. It was incredible, obviously limited access, I believe it was the East Wing, but still it was surreal. Complete with protestors out front asking for America’s aid in ridding Turkestan of Chinese treatment of Muslims. They were right in front of the White House where we wanted pictures. It was a small, controlled group, and the American Flag was in the air (as opposed to being on the ground), so I felt safe to go ahead with our pictures despite the group. They didn’t seem to notice us. Also, nearby was a woman casting either a blessing or curse on the White House — with my untrained eye for chantings, could go either way. But, still she was quiet, didn’t seem to notice us.

From the White House we had free time, so we joined some friends and took an Uber for the first time over to Trump International Hotel. So. Much. Fun! The Old Post Office and Clock Tower building from 1899 was renovated by Trump’s organization and it leases the facility for the hotel. The Clock Tower and observation deck were also renovated and is run by the National Parks Service for visitors. After our own visit to the observation deck, we relaxed for a few minutes in the lobby of the hotel and ordered coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and crème brû·lée (and water, although I was informed that they would automatically bring me water, I did not have to order it). The attendants were very hospitable and attentive even though it was obvious we didn’t belong there — except for Tammie Woodard, she was very at home. But, it was a fun experience for the kids.

We could have gone home then and been thrilled with the day, but it just kept getting better. We joined back up with the group and were given a personal tour of the Capitol by Martha Brooks, wife of Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks. The entire building was abuzz as newly elected senators were in orientation. One friend got to catch Ted Cruz as he passed in a hallway, and Mitt Romney was also spotted. I was so jealous!! Ted Cruz! Mrs. Brooks walked us through accessible areas, and some not accessible areas, and shared interesting facts about the building and notable events. All super and wonderful, sincerely, I was in awe, but then she was able to finagle a way for us to sit in on a part of a session in the gallery of the House of Representatives — I know!!! It was absolutely surreal, honestly. We couldn’t take our phones into the chamber, so of all the things I will do this trip, the one thing that I was most fan-girl over, I couldn’t take pictures during. But, it was exciting and disturbing and interesting. I could not believe that I was sitting there watching Paul Ryan work the gavel, which he did regularly to quieten the group that were like chatty children. New members were sworn in and I caught sight of the two boils on the forehead of the Democrat Party, the crazy bats Maxine and Nancy. But, just sitting in that gallery, watching our government at work and then visiting Independence Hall the next day in Philadelphia where the framers of our government sat, envisioning and shaping the very activity that I witnessed the night before just broadened my appreciation for this magnificent country in which we live.

Being a part of all the above, especially around Veteran’s Day, highlighting why and how our country was founded, the genius behind the framework of the states, the sacrifice and selflessness of the people who fought in the fields and in the Halls, has been so humbling and interesting. The impact of what goes on in those two balanced ends of the Capitol, coupled with the chosen leader in the White House is almost incomprehensible.

Which is why posts like one that a liberal friend made on Monday, whining about Trump missing some kind of ceremony in France after already participating in one ceremony in France is so frustratingly ignorant, intentionally divisive and saddening. The juvenile nature of that post, shared for the sole sake of mouthing-off and stirring up comments from fellow sheeples to make herself feel good about hating a man for no real reason instead of wanting to “honestly” know why Trump didn’t show at the ceremony was set against the back-drop of what I was witnessing in the halls of history, so it just hit me all kinds of wrong and made me sad for her that she wastes her capable brain with silliness — again, the theme of the democratic party right now, wasting capable brains with silliness. I’m sorry, I will move on.

We spent most of yesterday in Philly. As mentioned, we visited Independence Hall, but we also toured East State Penitentiary, operational from 1829 to 1971. Once the pride of the system, the prison held infamous prisoners Al Capone and Slick Willie. We were not long in Philly, but long enough to venture into the Reading Terminal Market. It’s the largest and oldest public market in America, and it was elbow to elbow craziness.

All of that in three days. Hg pulled something in her leg from all the walking, and I’m just stiff all over. I got to talk to the kids today, but Caleb was eating his cereal snack, so he asked if he could talk while he ate so his cereal wouldn’t get soggy. Funny. But, it did help my feelings some and I found out that I finally got a job. It’s a part-time gig at the community college Huntsville campus. So, I’ve got that waiting on me. Don’t know what that will do to activity with the foundation, so we will see how it can all work together.

I’ll share again in a few days.


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