Our night started out a little frustrating. Unfortunately they did not bring the buses with the wheelchair lift. So Deryn and I ran back to Fisher House and grabbed Chaz's legs and all the things he needed to put his legs on and we drove them back down. They are very heavy and it was very hot yesterday. She and I drove them down parked and got them to him. Then Chaz got to walk onto the bus. He did very well and people were very happy to move and let us have the front rows so we could all sit together.
We drove to the Watergate. I thought we were going to the Rivers at Watergate. That is the restaurant we dined at for the Kennedy Center event. But no we went into the actual South building of the Watergate complex. Chaz, the girls and I just moved right along and then in the middle of the hallway was Mrs. Dole welcoming everyone to their home and giving out hugs to everyone. I just continued to push Chaz in and then Mr Dole was in the living room waiting for everyone and taking pictures. We took our shook his hand and move on to the others come in. Then we went out to the patio. You're thinking oh my gosh she's crazy it was so hot. But Mrs Dole have a tent set up to cover their patio with AC pumping into it. It was freaking sweet. Then we look and there's a bar set up for the occasion. Chaz and I finally began assessing the situation and then it dawned on us that we were in their home. Chaz says, "Did you know we were coming to their house?" I told him, "No I thought we were going to the Rivers (the restaurant)" He said, "Well this is a nice surprise." I agreed.
We hung out on the patio and hung out with other soldiers and friends of the Dole family and the Dole family. We met their daughter Robin and their adorable friend Bunny from North Carolina. Then I met this great family from Oregon. The daughter, was named Kate ot Katie, we just so many Kates and Katies I get them mixed up all the time and my friends know I am not great with names. But I hung out with her for a while. She reminded me a lot of myself, just a younger version. Her little brother Clark thought Chaz was too cool (because we all know Chaz is) and became friends with him. What a great family! I hope our path cross again. You could tell they were so excited to be there and to meet the soldiers and their families.
We were treated to a lovely self serve buffet dinner. We had some yummy ham and all sorts of fixings. Deryn and Ryann loved the crescent rolls. I lost count of how many they ate. We also met David Bradley (I think that was his last name). He was another family friend and was super nice too.
Then the Doles brought everyone in the living room and they both spoke and it was so cool to listen to them. Mr Dole said the title of the greatest generation is now being past to us. He says no one ever asked them to deploy, come home, deploy. He also said the soldiers are his inspiration. He also told this great story about when Monica Lewinski moved out next door they bought her apartment so they could have more room. Deryn commented while we were there that Chaz should talk to them about how they set up their house because it could work for us. Then she found their stair lift (like the one on Up) and said, "Here mom, this is what Daddy needs." Then we sang Happy Birthday to him and ate some cake.
The girls were extremely well behaved. Then this ladybug caught Ryann's eye in this glass case and asked for my camera because she was to take a picture of it because it was so pretty and she wanted to remember it. Then she had me take her picture with it. Then Deryn said it's time to leave we have to say thank you. She grabbed Ryann and they ran to Mr Dole and cut in front of what I did not realize until it was too late was a line waiting to do the same. Boy those cuties are fast. Deryn took Ryann by the hand and walked right up to him and said, "Thank you so much for having our family. I hope you have a happy birthday." That was a super proud mommy moment. Mr Dole asked to take a picture with them and thanked them for coming.
Ryann then walked by the ladybug again and said, "Mommy, who's ladybug is that?" I pointed to Mrs Dole and said, "It hers sweetie." She said, " Can I tell her it's pretty?" I said sure and about that time Mrs. Dole walked over and Ryann looked up and said, "I like your ladybug it's very pretty." Mrs Dole says, "Here, look at it better." Ryann had it in her hand for just seconds and Mrs Dole says, "Now it's your ladybug." I tried to argue but Mrs Dole wouldn't have it and I began tearing up. Chaz looked at me and and motioned the what's up at me. I sent Ryann over to him she open her hand and he started to tear up. I immediately hugged her and said thank you. She said, "It's a simple gift from one family to another." I told her, "You are just amazing thank you so much." Then I looked and so many other people had tears in the eyes and some were even crying. It was such a simple, yet incredibly beautiful moment. I will cherish it for the rest of my life. Mrs Dole then says, "Oh but what to give to your other daughter?" Deryn then says, "We'll share it, thank you." Then I asked to take their picture. Just thinking about last night, I immediately start fighting back the tears.
We wished them well and said good-bye to all our new friends.We got our goodies bags loaded up and then we got on the bus. Ryann held tight to that ladybug. Then she asked to put it in my purse after Chaz and I talked to her about how we wanted to make sure it was safe. Oh the bus ride home, Deryn says, "Mom, we have to do something nice for them. That party was so nice and that was so nice for her to give Ry that ladybug." Ryann and Deryn decided she would draw a picture of it to send to her.
For those wondering that ladybug will be living in my purse until I find a better place for it. Ryann says that's her favorite ladybug and she wants it to stay safe. Smart girl, huh?!
Life is so great!! I am so thankful for all these absolutely amazing experiences that just jump right onto our path. Every time I think we can't be more blessed, I swear God laughs and knocks me off my feet again. I could just explode from joy and gratefulness. One thing is for sure, this family won't forget our evening with the Doles anytime soon!