Grill'n in the Granite State (Father's Day Edition)

I love Father’s Day.  It’s really something to get a whole day where the world looks at you, sizes you up as a dad right away, and then celebrates your “accomplishments”.  Honestly, it was no trouble at all.

On this my 8th Father’s Day I awoke in a hotel room outside Boston.  I was in the tub and my kidney was missing.  I was actually in the correct room.  There’s a story behind that.  Having arrived to this place late last night after traveling the hour and a half north from the Kelly’s we were given the room key and I quite literally carted my kids and our luggage up to the room.  I swiped the card and entered.  Actually my daughter entered first like she was Peter to my John.  She quickly darted across the room to the bed.  Taking her glasses off and placing them on the nightstand she got under the covers and closed her eyes.  She was tired.  Precious thing.

Something was wrong here.

I glanced around and noticed someone else’s suitcase, laptop, and other personal effects.

“RITA!  Get out of that bed right now!!!” I shouted.  I tossed the precious one back on the cart and ran.  Karla was parking the car so she met me in the lobby just in time to hear me ream the guy at the desk.  Lucky for me I wasn’t too harsh with him.  After he put us in another room and apologized for the incident I had to crawl back to ask him to get Rita’s glasses from the first room.  That’s a first for us and we use Priceline all the time.

Day 22/Event #10/Father’s Day

Friends, it’s been three weeks we’ve been doing this.  In today’s account I really hope you get the sense, as I have in this time, of how magnificent the Christendom alumni community truly is.

We left our room and headed off to Boston for some sightseeing.  Karla and I have been here before but not the little ones.  We only had time for one stop so we chose the Paul Revere house.  I do love history.  And, oh yeah, it’s my day so I can pick where we go!  Keep that in mind for later.

Of course it’s also Sunday so we had to go to mass.  In Boston it can be hit or miss and you all know what I’m talking about.  We drove about ten minutes to the Back Bay neighborhood and St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine.  I try to confess my debauchery once a week and this place offered what every Catholic church should offer before every mass – confession.  Unfortunately, the church is a block from Fenway and there was no parking.  Karla circled while I was absolved and then we headed back to the old North End for mass where we knew we could park.  If you’re interested and in Boston, check out St. Stephen’s.  It’s the church where Rose Kennedy was baptized and from which she was buried.  Unfortunately it looks painfully Protestant.  Renovations or something…  We also stopped at the Bunker Hill Monument.  We grabbed our tickets to climb the 292 steps to the top and set out on the stone spiral steps.  Somewhere around step 125 Benedict, who was quite tired, asked if we couldn’t simply return to the car.  I’m not really disappointed.  But I would have loved to take in the view from the top to share with all of you.  We grabbed lunch, took some pictures, and headed north to New Hampshire and our next event.

You Mean It’s Not the Real Stonehenge?!

I love my kids.  Just thought I’d toss that in there.  It’s hard for me to be too hard on them, especially today.  On this day ten years ago my sister lost her 23 month-old baby.  In fact I’ve known far too many people who’ve lost little ones.  All I have to do is think of their pain and realize that I want my children to experience the best of me and not the worst.  Sure they need discipline but I can try my best to do that without losing my temper.

What?  It’s just cake.

For some reason they thought today was the day to challenge that attitude.  It’s Father’s Day.  This is New England.  There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts off every wicked exit.  Not for them, mind you; Daddy needed a constant supply of coffee.

As we made our way into New Hampshire Karla, looking at Roadside America (get this app!) asked me if I’d ever heard of America’s Stonehenge.  I had indeed!  The kids and I watched a History Channel special about it.  From what I recall it was some kind of megalithic rock grouping that resembled the one on the Salisbury Plane.  I think it even lines up with the real deal as well.  I’d like to retract that last statement as any two points on the globe will, in theory, line up with each other.  How stupid of me.

So we drove four miles off I-93 and put down $12 to hike through the woods and see…

Something resembling a tornado shelter made of flagstone.  “What even is this place?” Rita asked.  “Sweetheart, Daddy is scared.  Let us leave this place and never speak of it again.”

Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

New Hampshire is one of 11 states I have never visited.  Let’s change that, shall we?  We pulled up to the house, noticed that we must be at the right place from the presence of many other cars, and walked around into the yard.  I’m glad we were right and this was the right place or we would have looked foolish walking in on someone else’s Father’s Day BBQ.

Mark speaks with Raeanna Williams.

Our hosts today were not only people I’d yet to meet; these guys were people I had never even heard of!  Remember how I said the alumni family are “magnificent”?  I don’t know how else to describe a group of people who so eagerly awaited our arrival and also made us feel right at home the moment we showed up, like we were truly part of their family.  The truth is, that’s the reception we’ve received everywhere we’ve been this summer.

Mark Schwerdt, ’02, who along with his lovely wife Emily, ’03, organized today’s event and opened his home to us, approached me.  “Tim, can I get you a gin and tonic?” he asked.  “Ah, you read my blog!” I replied.   I also silently wondered how many other things I could slip into these pages to see who’s paying attention.  For the record I am also fond of Marlboro reds, Brooks Brothers linen suits, and fresh $50 bills in crisp stacks.  Mark is a smart man.  He does what I would like to do – he’s a principal.  Educators stick together.  Until we turn on each other.

Mark’s chicken.

Maybe it was just because it was a Sunday and I knew we’d be taking a break after this for a few days.  Maybe it was because it was Father’s Day and I was in a particularly good mood.  Maybe it was the gin.  I really enjoyed myself.  Oh, I know!  It was the chicken!  I told Mark I would mention this.  All the food has been good up to now.  But Mark’s marinated chicken deserves its own mention.  It was that good.  I believe it was marinated in gin.

Karla and I sat down to talk (after handing out tee shirts).  Raeanna (MacDonald) Williams, ’94, approached me.  She told me how she had been in my sister’s class, that they had discovered we both had family on the same street in Nova Scotia (literally next door to each other), and that she had also been reading the blog.  She handed us each gift bags – mine was a bottle of gin, Karla’s was a bottle of Grey Goose.  I love these people.

We ate, drank, and relaxed around their beautiful back yard conversing with Fred Fraser, ’03, and his wife Nicole; Joe and Amanda (Dennehy) Vicinanzo, ’09 and ’10 respectively, Rand Brown, ’08, whom we discovered lives near us in Texas (the boots were a dead giveaway in this northernest of northern towns).  Also joining us was a man who has just been ordained a transitional deacon.  His name is Matt Schultz and he attended a school in Irving, TX (our current hometown).  We gave him a shirt anyway because we like the guy and because he’s going to be praying for our immortal souls.  In fact, the connections I uncovered to people I know who have nothing to do with Christendom were staggering.  For instance, I have two colleagues back home who both know the Schwerdt’s completely independent of one another, of Christendom, or of me.  Strange.

I also found it funny that, in one of those “do you remember so-and-so” conversations – the kind where you have to describe someone because you can’t remember his name – one of the women uttered this line: “No, he was the really good looking one in our class.”  The other women immediately knew to whom she referred.  OK ladies, on Father’s Day of all days, let us believe that, for you, we were the really good looking guys in your class.  We chuckled.  It’s OK.

Capping off the evening we lighted a bunch of fireworks we had purchased in North Carolina but had been unable to use until now.  I know the impulse is to say “we lit the fireworks” but I’m fairly certain that lighted is correct.  Grammar fiends will correct me.  We knew we definitely could not take them to our next stop and the night sky was just perfect for the occasion.  It was somewhere around this point that our kids had a break with reality meltdown.  No, I mean a full-on, take-Daddy-to-crazy-town, question-your-existence meltdown.  Fortunately our hosts (all of them including their guests) know the routine with kids and were more than forgiving.

What else would you do at midnight in Maine?

We packed the kids into the car and headed off for a random stopover in Maine (thanks again, Priceline) and along the way, after a bit of sleep on their part, my wife and son got to explore one of Maine’s most beloved tourist attractions.  I had accidentally driven past Poland Springs but wound up stopping at the LL Bean retail outlet!  How’s that for fun at midnight on Father’s Day?

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