I have seven brothers. Two of them (the two closest to me in age) went home to God when I was a child.
The other five… well, I can’t say we’ve had our differences over the years; but let’s face it, when the youngest of them is seven years older than you, you can’t say you have a whole lot in common either. When I was a kid three of them were no longer living at home and the other two were out the door early in the morning. They were in high school, busy with wrestling, working, went off to college, and that was that. I didn’t really know them too well looking back on it. I saw far more of my brothers-in-law Jim and Dan then I ever did of them. But, people grow up (me) and seem to connect on a better level with those who previously rejected them. But I digress.
Today, we went to have lunch with my brother Brian. He works a block from Ground Zero. We had a wonderful time visiting with him. He absolutely adores my kids (especially from all the Facebook pictures he sees of them) and it was very nice to see his interaction with them. He had already printed out passes so we could all visit the Trade Center site. We walked over, went through security. Ben, upon seeing the magnetometer, immediately started taking his shoes off. Been through airports much, son? I was struck with an indescribable sense of weirdness at being on the spot where such evil took place and so many lost their lives. I turned to my kids and told them “on this spot there used to be two really tall buildings and Daddy used to love going all the way to the top of them…” But I couldn’t feel the same emotion I felt in Oklahoma City. It just wasn’t there. This memorial was so scaled back from what it should have or could have been and most of the focus was on the buildings’ footprints. The names of the dead were almost hard to read on the bronze plaques. It will never be the same there, even though the Freedom Tower was looming overhead, nearing completion.
We grabbed some coffee and ice cream at a corner shop with Brian. A rainstorm came through. Rita and I stepped into the church of St. Peter — oldest Catholic Church in the City. Then we all went up to Brian’s office. Jokingly, as my kids were looking out the windows of this high rise, my brother asked “Ben, you should back away from that window.” They were locked. “Would you like me to drop you out the window?” Strange wording, I know. Rita, always looking to have whatever her brother has stared at me, then yelled “Me too!!!”
We then faced two things no one should ever face — New York City rush hour and Garden State Parkway shore traffic on a Friday afternoon. We did this in order to head down the shore to visit my brother Paul and his family. More on them in tomorrow’s post, because tonight we went for dinner, then went back to their house to rest. While at dinner, though, Daddy got a calzone. “You sure you want the large?” asked the waitress. “Yeah,” I said with contempt at her questioning of me. After a while she emerged with a platter containing a calzone so large it could feed several of me. I saw this as a challenge. And I won.