Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us. This page is a photographic annotation of the email (or regular post) that you may have received. [If you want to see a bigger version of the pictures, just click on them.] We were more profoundly affected than normal by the events described below. Our family suffered loss early in the year, and our vacation in the Marriott World Trade Center just two weeks before it was destroyed gave us a greater awareness than many of the effects of the attack of September 11.
The early part of 2001 was dominated by concern for the health of Laura's mother, as she continued to fight the serious cancer that required surgery in the summer of 2000. Unfortunately, Ann lost the fight in March, after about a month under hospice care at home. Her husband Blaine, sister Ginny, daughter Laura, and granddaughter Katherine were all present when she passed into the presence of the Lord. The photograph shows her with Blaine and Katherine in happier times a couple of years ago.
A memorial service was held at her (and our) church in Carlisle, Mass, attended by many friends and family. The photo shows the three daughters making a gallant effort to smile at the reception following the service. The ladies of the church put on a wonderful spread of refreshments, showing abundant love and concern to Blaine and the family, even though Ann and Blaine had only attended the church for a couple of summers. Grandsons Eric and Ian made a professional-quality videotape of the service for those who were unable to attend.
Katherine took a photography course in school her sophomore year. Her black-and-white photo of Blaine digging out from the major snowstorm which started the day of Ann's passing captured the mood as well as the predominant colors of the day. I suppose one could argue that the picture also illustrates well why Blaine and Ann bought a condo in Florida for the winter. Blaine is there now and the weather is much better there than here.
In April we drove to Indiana and Ohio to visit friends in Lafayette and Cleveland and Tim's sister's family in Cincinnatti. One activity in Cleveland was visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Tim's friend Jay's family. In the photo with us are Jay and his daughter Maribeth. We saw a special John Lennon exhibit which was there at that time. It was quite an interesting place, and is known for its architecture.
We are always happy for the chance to participate in the ISI Thanksgiving program in which international students at a variety of U.S. schools visit the Boston area and stay with hosts families. This year was kind of a bonus year; some ISI students visiting from Arizona in the early summer stayed with us for a couple of days. We had a good time discussing world issues, especially Sweden with Johann and India with Partha. At Thanksgiving we had a family from China, Zhichen, Katherine, and Jasmine. They are at Princeton now, but were in Singapore for the last several years. We had a good Thanksgiving together with my brother's family and our world-traveling guests.
The Blue Man Group is sort of a theatrical troup/performance art group which Laura and I saw a few years ago and the kids saw with Laura this year. In the picture, Matt gets into the ambience of BMG and stares down a Blue Man after the performance. Katherine went to a few fencing tournaments, and got the medal shown for her efforts just a week ago. A few other fun events happened, including our usual vacation to Cape Cod.
The kids had never been to New York City before (and Laura and I hadn't been there for many years) so we decided to go in late August. Our travel agent suggested a good deal at the Marriott WTC. [Two weeks later she booked her mother on American Airlines Flight 11.] On Saturday August 24 we took the Amtrak Accela train to NY, then a cab to the Marriott, shown in the picture between the now-familiar towers. At left is the South Tower. We heard some free musical concerts on the area of the mall shown in the picture.
Since we had only half a day in NYC Saturday, we decided to go up to the top of the South Tower and take a look. We walked through the giant ground floor area of the South Tower and got in line for tickets. [News stories later said that the footprint of a 767 aircraft could fit entirely inside a floor of a WTC tower; we already knew that.] Katherine asked about the security precautions when they checked all our backpacks; I described the terrorist attack of 1993 when the bomb exploded in the parking garage. We got on the high speed elevator and headed for the top.
At the top we walked around the viewing area, looking through the glass at NYC. There were a lot of fast-food places here. [Few if any of those working in or visiting this area survived the attack.] We then went up to the roof and took some pictures. The picture at left shows the top of the North Tower from the roof of the South Tower. Yes, it's a lot closer than the ground. At right is the view to the South.
The Marriott had a very fancy breakfast buffet costing the better part of $20. We had two of those a day as part of our deal, so a couple of us went there and the others went across the street to a small deli and had breakfast there. We walked past the small fire station to get there, and I remarked more than once that they must have been the first responders to the 1993 bombing of the WTC, which came close to taking down the towers. [This station was hard-hit when many of its firefighters were inside the towers during the collapse.]
Our custom is to go by foot as far as is feasible, and we explored quite a bit of the area around the hotel, including the other WTC buildings, and local restaurants. The twin towers dominated the skyline in this area, as shown in the photo by Katherine, also used for the background of this letter.
We also went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; the picture shows the statue from the ferry. The ubiquitous Towers can be seen in the background.
On Tuesday morning the 28th we thought about trying to get out early and do something, like shop, but we didn't. We got up at a leisurely time, had breakfast as usual in two groups of two, packed our bags, and caught a cab to Penn Station outside the hotel at about 11:00. [Exactly two weeks later both towers were down by 11:00, and the Marriott was destroyed. It's believed that only one was lost in the Marriott, a guy who couldn't pull himself away from his laptop as he sent some email.]
Well, last year our cruise ship sank six months after we traveled on it, but that's something that ships sometimes do. Those towers seemed (and were) a lot more substantial, showing that nothing is as certain as men think. They say that the devastation at Ground Zero is hard to visualize unless you see it, but this year our family was well equipped to do that. (After the last two years, we can't really recommend that you try to duplicate any of our future vacation travels, even if we report good experiences.)
Recent developments in Afghanistan are hopeful,
but there is still plenty of justifiable concern by the public.
In this Christmas season, we celebrate the coming of the One who
is in control.
Tim, Laura, Katherine, Matt
Tim's web site - Tim's email address - Laura's email address - Katherine's email address - Matt's email address