March 2002


Last weekend, Christine and I made the trip up to Oklahoma City on Friday. We left Fort Worth at about 5:00 (maybe a little later) and braved the terrible weather coming down from the north. We drove, fairly uninterupted (a first for the Engler Family) to OKC, and arrived somewhere between 9:30 and 10:30. We drove around the city a little bit (because the navigator “knew where we were going”) and pulled into the Waterford Marriot (the only 4 star hotel in OKC).

We parked the car under the carport, and walked inside. After a few minutes of figuring out what room we were in (we were sharing a suite with Michael, Christine’s brother, which wasn’t clear to the desk staff), we took the elevator up to the room and sat down for a few minutes. Michael offered us a beer or two and some cold pizza. We talked for a bit, and an hour later, I was outside again, getting our bags… It must have been 20 degrees outside by this point. When we originally parked the car, it had a little water on it from the drive, but when I got back outside, it was covered in ice.

Michael helped Christine and I get everything upstairs, and I parked the car. The trip to OKC was over and we were safe. (An hour or so later, Steven, Christine’s younger brother, called to say that he and Jenny had pulled off the road somewhere and were spending the night… the weather was just too bad).

On Saturday morning, we all woke up to a true winter morning. Mary called us at about 7:30 (too early for a relaxing weekend 😉 ) and told us that Grandmother’s party was cancelled due to the bad weather. We were sad, but tired, so we went back to sleep after a cup of coffee.

Somewhere between noon and 2:00, we went to Bellini’s Restaurant across the street for lunch. We had pasta, fish, and a sandwich. It was very good, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a fun place to eat lunch when the roads are iced over.

The entire Daron (Grandmother’s surname) family arrived at the hotel somewhere between 2 and 3 and we split the better part of the afternoon between a couple of suites on the 5th floor enjoying each other’s company. We met a lot of people we didn’t know and caught up with a lot that we did know. Grandmother sure does have a lot of classy friends and family members… I won’t go through them all in this story, but they are of all sorts, from New York to California, Texas to Oregon, and all parts in between. Each person is unique and none of them are boring. We hope to visit with a lot more of our family in the future.

Christine gave Grandmother a “memory book” that has been constructed in our home from all of Grandmother’s friends and family sending in their “memorys” of Grandmother or Granddaddy. It was a lot of work for Christine and Mary, but the book turned out wonderful and Grandmother will have something to read whenever she feels lonely (which is probably going to never happen, but nonetheless the book is beautiful). It’s a handbound book with inserts that Grandmother can add to whenever she likes.

Michael and I split the family party and headed down to the bar with Tom, Christine’s cousin from California, to play pool. Tom treated us all to drinks for a good 4-5 hours, so we really got great a pool, and only spilt a few beers on the floor.

Around 8 or 9 the rest of the clan joined us for dinner at Murphy’s Chop House, which was over-priced, but worth it for the conversation. All of Christine’s family members have some form of higher education and thus really enjoy discussing topics that most of us don’t really get into… The discussion centered around abortion, the death penalty, the economy and a few other topics at my end of the table… and after two or three bottles of wine… it was quite lively. No one was injured, and I think that everyone went home without an insult being delivered. It was a great dinner.

We stayed up until about 2am that night, sitting in the bar talking to more family. Grandmother’s 84 year old sister, Maxine, stayed downstairs with us, just as lively as the rest of us, and her two daughters from the New York area were a lot of fun.

On Sunday morning we attended a service at the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, a beautiful church in Downtown, and the same church that Grandmother has attended for 50 some odd years I think. The windows on one side of the church were blow out during the Oklahoma City bombing, but they replaced them right away with almost exact replicas from Italy. The highlight of the service was a bell-choir piece that was composed for Grandmother. It was a medley of her favorite songs. It was lovely.

After church, we traveled over to the National Cowboy museum for a buffet lunch with the family, prior to our drive home. Lunch was fantastic, if the conversation was slightly toned down from the night before…

We had an uneventful drive home, but a great weekend. Grandmother’s 90th birthday party was a success.

So, it’s Thursday, March 7th, and I’ve taken the day off…

Why? You might ask…

The honest answer is “because I was sort of forced to.” You see… the company that I work at has this vacation policy that says I can’t hold over vacation from year to year. I asked about it for two months before I was given a good answer. That answer was “John, you can’t hold over your vacation to next year, but because of your National Guard commitment, [and the fact that we’re going to make you take unpaid leave for those two weeks] we’ll try to work it out so that you can hold some of it over…”

I didn’t get anything in writing though, which is what I asked for, and I still don’t know what day the company’s “floating holiday” is this year, even though the President/CEO was supposed to announce it before the beginning of the year…. whatever…

But the bottom line is that we’re really busy at work, and I should probably be there. They’re hurting me by making me take the vacation right now, as well as hurting themselves…

Moral of the story: It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I’ve had three beers – wish it wasn’t so cold outside… I’d have gone fishing…