“We are all Rotarians. There is only one family of us.”
As you’ll recall from DooDaddy’s previous escapades (see Mighty Musical Monday: the encore), excursions can be perilous for geezers. In fact that’s Rule #6 for the Care and Feeding of Old People. Hell, it’s hard enough just to make it to the myriad of doctors’ appointments and the occasional lunch at Aubrey’s or Bravo (both restaurants get a gold star for geezer accessibility in my soon-to-launch Geezer App). Just imagine taking DooDaddy to hear Governor Haslam speak to Knoxville Rotary Club at The Marriott.
I have fond memories of this hotel, when it was The Hyatt Regency. We used to go for Sunday brunch. My brother and sister and I would ogle the elaborate ice sculptures and ride up and down on the glass elevators. It was endlessly entertaining. Later, my partner in crime, Mary Lane, and I used to sneak out her father’s GTO and drive it to the Hyatt for what will remain forever sealed in the vault of high school hijinx. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.
So when DooDaddy’s buddy and fellow Rotarian Bob Samples offered to come and fetch us for the luncheon program, I was all in. Bobby (to me) and his wife Diana are dear friends of DooDaddy’s and have been a special blessing to my family forever, especially since Gmamma died. Bobby arrived, all natty swag in his seersucker suit and white bucks (since it was after Memorial Day) and ready for the adventure. He’ll be 80 next April Fool’s Day, but the joke is on Father Time, because Bobby is downright spry as a spider monkey. In fact, I think he must do Parkour (google it) with a private trainer to stay in peak fitness.
DooDaddy, you’ll recall, had a terrible fall soon after he and Gmamma arrived at Shannondale, breaking his femur near his previously broken hip, resulting in a titanium rod in his thigh and a shortened leg, which necessitates horrid (but very expensive) Frankenstein shoes and renders him a might wobbly on his feet.
Bobby bustled DooDaddy into his Mercedes SUV and whisked us downtown, pausing at the entrance to the covered parking garage to deposit DooDaddy near the elevator. Did I mention there was a steep curb to scale first? No problem for Bobby who parked and bounded back like Spider-Man while DooDaddy and I were still figuring out how to go down in one elevator and then walk through the Marriot kitchen and the bowels of the basement to find the freight elevator to take us the rest of the way. Honestly, you’d think DooDaddy was the only geezer Rotarian, which I can assure you, is not the case.
Finally we emerged from the tunnels and secret doors to navigate precariously – envision DooDaddy’s walker with man bag (he calls it his “briefcase”) – among the tables, as eager Rotarians pushed back their chairs and popped up like meerkats to welcome their returning brother from his three-year-long self-imposed exile. It was touching, but I only had eyes for obstacles. Did I mention we had to stand in line and pay and sign in and get nametags first?
Then for the real fun – watching DooDaddy sit down in an armless banquet chair while Bobby folded his walker and I went to the buffet line (buffets are IMPOSSIBLE, when you’re on a walker) not once but three times, because another favorite geezer of mine was seated on my other side. That’s right, GrandBud Albers had come to hear the governor’s remarks as well. It was a red-letter day for geezers.
Once DooDaddy was seated, I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short lived, because Rotary rituals have more standing and sitting than an Episcopal church service on Easter Sunday. The Rotarians stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of “The Tennessee Waltz,” chosen especially by Rotarian/song leader/geezer fan Annette Winston. Then we gave Governor Haslam a standing ovation. There may have even been kneeling and genuflecting for this hometown hero. Then we stood to clap for visiting politicos and various and sundry elected officials. As DooDaddy gently nodded off during the governor’s remarks, I prodded him under the table. Meanwhile GrandBud was rising up unsteadily on his cane to ask a question of the governor. I felt like the vigilant mother of young toddlers trying to make sure they don’t run into the street in front of an oncoming semi-truck.
The rest is a blur of more clapping, more standing, reciting some creed or other, followed by glad handing, greeting the governor, photo opps and then the perilous pathway out of the ballroom, back up the freight elevator, back through the kitchen, over to the other elevator, then across the highly polished lobby floor to the front door to wait on Bobby who had used his super powers to leap over tables and sprint to the parking lot to retrieve the geezer mobile and meet us out front.
I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
But DooDaddy had the time of his life. And, after we delivered him safely back to The Home, Bobby said, “Your father is like a big brother to me.”
And that made it all worthwhile.