It just so happened that I was going to be in Orlando area the same time as my parents. I was traveling the country and my parents were going to Disney World. I had never been to Disney World before so I was a tiny bit excited for that but I was more excited to see my sister (Monster) and my niece (Blondie). Before I left for Afghanistan Monster was six years old. I had to watch her one night when my parents went out and we watched a Disney movie. As the castle logo popped up before the movie Monster says to me “I’ve been there.”
I said “I know, punk! Mom and Dad never took me there when I was little.”
“You can come with us this summer”
“I’m sorry sweetheart; I have to go to Afghanistan”
After this she proceeded to ask me why I wanted to go. She followed that up with making fun of me because she got to go on vacation and I got to go Afghanistan. Damn little kids!
I called my parents and told them I was on my way. That day they were hanging out at Hollywood Studios. I parked, made my way to the gate and went to purchase a ticket. I know Disney is very military friendly so I asked for the military discount and the gentleman informed me that the military rate was $146 4 day park hopper. I wasn’t going to be around that long so I just asked for a normal ticket. $90 for a one day pass to Hollywood Studios. I informed the man that I would only be in there for maybe 3 hours and asked if he could get me in for a cheaper rate. He could not so I paid the money and went to go spend time with my family.
The girls were excited to see me and I was excited to see them. They told me all about my vacation and I told them all about mine. Monster, my dad, and myself all rode the Aerosmith rollercoaster together. As we were sitting around waiting for one of the Disney parades to start I got a phone call for an interview with the Toledo blade (http://m.toledoblade.com/local/2012/05/09/Dreams-of-fields-come-true-for-Army-veteran.html) I excused myself from the group and answered some questions. When I came back my parents were gone. It took me a while to find them and when I did I had to take off to go eat dinner with my Aunt who lives in Orlando. Before I left I told my parents that I wanted a picture of all of us together. It’s not very often that we have the whole family willing to take a picture. I walked around the area for the picture lady but she was nowhere to be found. When I returned my dad was talking to the table that was eating lunch next to him and I heard him telling my story. My father is not the type of man that shows a lot of emotion. I could hear pride, as he told how we were all in Orlando at the same time. There’s only one other moment in my adult life where I remember seeing my father this proud. My parents had just picked me up from the airport as I returned home from Iraq for my two weeks of leave. We had stopped at a gas station and I went in to grab something to drink. My dad was telling everybody who could hear that I was his son and I had just gotten home from “war”.
I said goodbye to the kids and my parents. I drove over to Universal Studios in Orlando and met up with my Aunt Cindy. I generally only get to see my aunt twice a year so I was pretty excited. She works for Snap On Tools and she has always lived far away since they have no office in Toledo, Ohio. She showed me around the boardwalk area and we chose to eat at the Hard Rock Café. The food was good, but just like any giant food chain that preys on tourists, it was incredibly overpriced. I had a great time with my aunt as we caught up over dinner and was sad to say goodbye. I went back over to where my parents were staying and hung out by the pool for a little bit.
The following day I had to go to West Palm Beach and Miami. For the people that know me they know that I am a family man. There is nothing more important to me in this world to me than my family. It was so incredible to see my Sister, Niece, Mom, Dad, and Aunt while I was in Orlando and I was super excited to spend the next day watching a Marlins game with my cousin.
Keep On Smilin- It's Baseball Season!!
Keep On Smilin- It's Baseball Season!!