Apr 29, 201312:43 PMAfter Hours
with Jody Glynn Patrick
Patrick & Nana’s latest, greatest adventure
(page 1 of 2)
This month, my grandson Patrick turned 12 years of age. For this first “big boy” birthday, I had promised him a trip to Washington, D.C., and so we recently boarded a late-evening plane scheduled to arrive in the capital city at midnight. Once landed, we ferreted out our assigned rental car (eventually discovering the trunk latch hidden in the Volkswagen Golf’s logo plate) and finally made our way to the Loews Madison Hotel in the wee hours of the next morning.
As I tucked the tired little traveler and his favorite toy soldier into a fluffy bed, Patrick remarked, “Nana, I have never stayed at a luxury hotel where people park your car in the garage for you and the bellman carries your luggage all the way to the room and checks it out for you. Washington, D.C., has the nicest people in the world. I think we’re going to like it here.”
Patrick’s good spirits only brightened over the course of our six-day stay. Though I’m a repeat visitor, it was his first trip to D.C. The next morning, we breakfasted at the hotel. He asked a waiter for directions to the dining area restroom to wash his hands; the man escorted him to the door of the men’s room and then removed his waffle to keep it hot until his return to the table. I swear that you could have knocked the boy over with a feather when he figured out why his food was gone. Patrick loves writing hotel reviews, and new amenities or special service touches delight him.
First on the tour agenda was a performance at Ford’s Theatre, where actors played out the storyline of the night President Lincoln was shot in a balcony seat. We chose tickets in the balcony area by the president’s box. “It’s like touching history,” Patrick marveled, rubbing the polished wood rails.
Next stop, the Holocaust Museum. I worried that my grandson might be a bit traumatized by the “Daniel’s Story” display of a 12-year-old Jewish child who was taken to a concentration camp, where his mother and sister were killed – an experiential, walk-through exhibit. But no, it was a random picture of a young Jewish boy surrounded by SS soldiers, photographed at gunpoint just before his execution, that really grabbed Patrick’s soul. For that child, Patrick wrote a note with tears drawn on it, surrounded by swastikas. He deposited it in the museum mailbox and then stood there, uncertain whether to go or stay a moment longer. I wiped a real tear from his cheek and then we moved on, hand in hand, without a word.
Kneeling at the memorial with the burning flame, Patrick whispered that the Holocaust Museum definitely was a sacred place. He insisted we watch every short video being played in the museum’s cinema area over the next couple of hours. “The museum says ‘Never Forget,’” he breathed. “I can’t remember what I don’t know, so I need to watch.”
From that somber experience, we hiked over to the nation’s memorial park. Patrick was enthralled by the Washington Monument, and he toured the World War II vets’ monument, Vietnam wall and memorials, Korean War vets’ monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. He admired the Reflecting Pool and wanted to buy a postcard of the scene to show his mom that, yes, he really stood right there!
We lunched in the park, illegally feeding birds and squirrels because they were so bold that throwing food was the only way to get them away from us, and we laughed a lot at how much they liked potato chips. Then we walked over to Pennsylvania Avenue past all of the street vendors (stopping to buy souvenir magnets and a crystal etching of the White House for his mother) before I unveiled his next surprise – we had actually hiked right up to the gates of the White House. “I can’t believe I’m really here,” he beamed, smiling broadly for a picture with the White House as a backdrop. (Continued)