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October 7, 2009

“…And Yesterday’s Done….”

Tom McLaughlin

Middletown, MD – “It’s a grand old flag, it’s a free flying flag, forever may it wave!” This tune ran through my head as I walked up the hill to the parking lot in Middletown for the annual celebration of Middletown Days. I stopped and watched a fife and bugle ensemble, dressed in 1776 uniforms, playing a patriotic song whose melody I recognized but could not pinpoint. A tear came to my eye.


Walking around, I consumed a roast beef sandwich and bought some cookies from a table hosted by Middletown High school students benefiting some organization, what exactly, I can’t remember. A church basement served lunch and I slurped a bowl of ham and bean soup so wonderful and tasty during the cool almost rainy day.


The Great Frederick Fair brought memories of days passed as I joined friends and sat under a fire departments tent serving up delicious roast beef sandwiches and French fries cooked crisp, brown and hot. We wandered around and watched the 4H’ers proudly showing their cows, sheep, goats and other barnyard animals for a seated crowd. The auctioneer rattled out the numbers as men and women bid the animals value.


Oktoberfest, also at the Fairgrounds a week later and me with another group of friends, listened to German music and ate bratwurst, knockwurst and hot potato salad. I respectfully declined the sauerkraut as I cannot stand the stuff. At the opposite end an Irish band played the tunes my grandmother used to sing when I was young, so far, yet so near, years ago. The emotions flared.


September in Frederick County was not the purpose for my unexpected trip home. I received an e-mail from my oldest daughter that she wanted to re establish a father/daughter relationship. We had been estranged since the divorce trial about four years ago. Many of you know how wrenching that experience is for everyone involved.


There are very few times in one’s life when you can do the right thing that has a major impact on your life and those of others. Sometimes it makes no sense, seems foolish and you don’t know why, but in your heart, deep down you know it’s the right thing to do. I have done it three times in my life. The first two involved dogs. I purchased a golden retriever for my brother at the strong objections of my father. The next time I acquired a little puppy that would grow into a tea cup size dog for my dying parents.


I got the e-mail from my daughter and cried. Then I knew I had to fly immediately back. This came from the heart and did not make any sense. Making reservations for a trip home on the spur of the moment is difficult but more so from Borneo, exactly half a world away. The end of the fasting month, a great celebratory period for people of the Islamic faith, brought more traveling challenges. Like our Christmas and Thanksgiving, people return home for the two or three days, sometimes a week for family reunions.


I finally secured reservations on Qatar Airlines which carried me home via Dhoa to Dulles. The flight was 25 hours long, but much longer because of the anticipation and the desire to meet my daughter.


We both reunited and agreed our relationship would begin anew at the time she sent the e-mail. There would be no mention, never ever, of the hurting times. We had, and will continue to have dinners, lunches and outings. I will be present at her Marathon in Baltimore next weekend. Best yet, she will travel to Borneo where she will experience my life and then both of us will fly to China and visit the Panda research center on Christmas morning.


I guess I am very lucky because I know of relationships that were never mended because someone died. I know of others where both refuse to bend. The one thing I do know in this short life of mine is where there is a small spark of love it must be kept burning. And to keep it burning so it will aflame anew “let’s close the book, what’s done is done, cause that was yesterday and yesterday’s done, and yesterday’s done and yesterday’s done”


…life is oh soooo good!


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