Chapter Two – The Move to Washington, DC
We spent the next two weeks getting everything ready to move. Kerry’s parents, Katie and Joe Mitchell, helped as well.
Finally, the big day arrived and we started loading everything into the moving truck. Egan was so excited to be moving! We made sure he had a chance to help load the truck by carrying some of the lighter boxes and letting him supervise the loading of the truck. He was pretty good at letting us know where things belonged!
Katie and Joe drove up with us to Washington, DC. Rick drove the moving truck with Rick’s car hitched to a trailer behind it. I drove the Land Rover following behind Rick. Katie and Joe took Egan with them in their car so Keith and Kerry could concentrate their efforts on their new baby.
The first leg of our trip north was uneventful. We stayed a couple of days in Selma, North Carolina, with my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Stan (Keith’s parents) so they could see their new grandbaby.
I was sitting at the kitchen table with Katie and Joe talking with them about our move. I asked them, “Do you know much about living in Washington, DC?”
Joe responded, “I know that living in DC can be a pretty dangerous proposition. There’s a lot of gang related violence in the city. We’ve talked to Keith and Kerry a lot about being very careful of certain areas in the city and the surrounding counties.”
Katie added, “We lived there while I was getting my degree from Georgetown University. I would recommend finding a place in Arlington or Alexandria, Virginia. Both of them are located on the opposite side of the Potomac River from Washington, DC. As a young married couple, we enjoyed being close to the city but having the conveniences of living in the suburbs.”
“Where did you live when you were there?” I asked.
“We lived in a couple of places in Virginia but we enjoyed living in Alexandria the most,” Joe said.
“Rick’s sister, Julie, lives in Maryland not far from Washington, DC,” I said. “We haven’t seen or heard from Rick’s family for over five years now.”
Katie said, “I’m sorry that things haven’t worked themselves out with Rick’s family. He is such a wonderful man and you are very fortunate to have found him, Glenn. Do you think you’ll try to make contact with her?”
“No, I don’t think either of us could handle the emotional stress that would put on us,” I said.
Joe rescued me by changing the subject, “Glenn, I would suggest that the four of you find a couple of older homes to buy, preferably on adjoining lots. Then you could bulldoze them and build homes that suit your needs. We saw that a number of times where friends of ours tore down two existing homes and built a much bigger one on the two lots.”
“That sounds good to me. Could you help us look around Alexandria and Arlington to see if we can find some properties like what you’ve described?” I asked.
“I would love to help you guys! I suggested it last night to Keith and Kerry but just hadn’t had the chance to talk to you and Rick, yet,” Joe responded.
Katie said, “Joe, that’s wonderful! I’m glad you decided to help the kids out. I was getting a little worried they would end up in a bad neighborhood since they don’t know the area very well.”
It felt so strange to hear them talk of bad neighborhoods. Growing up, I never had to worry about “bad” neighborhoods. In fact, our neighborhood wasn’t really a neighborhood since we lived on a farm. Of course, Rick and I had some bad experiences in our first apartment but it wasn’t because of the neighborhood. The people in our apartment building were open and friendly. It was Rick’s family that had caused us so many problems there that we had to move to a new place.
Up until now, I had only been to Washington, DC, twice before: once when Rick and I toured the American capital city and once with Ben, Keith and Kerry. I was impressed with the monuments and the other governmental buildings. However, I still prefer Ottawa and all of its beauty. When I stayed with Uncle Allen in Ottawa, he took me everywhere in the city and I learned to navigate pretty well by the time I had returned home for school. I guess I would have to learn my way around Washington, DC, just like I had Ottawa. This time, I wouldn’t have my uncle to guide and direct me.
All of a sudden, I was feeling really homesick. While I was in school, I hadn’t missed being so far from home because I was so busy with studies and adjusting to living with my lover. Things had changed somewhat after graduation. I wasn’t as busy and I hated my job. I had tried to be patient about going home since Rick was still in the Marines. Now that Rick was out of the Marines, maybe I could convince him to go home with me to Swift Current, Saskatchewan. I’d like to spend a couple of months at home before coming back to Washington, DC. If not a couple of months, maybe we could make quick trips every month to St. Catharines, Ontario, to meet my family there. It’s a little more than an eight-hour drive from Washington, DC, to St. Catharines, Ontario.
It was hot and humid when we left Selma heading north towards Virginia. Keith had printed out directions to the Campbells’ home in Alexandria, Virginia, before we left Selma so we were able to find it without any problems. As we pulled into their driveway, my mouth dropped open in surprise. The house was huge! It was even bigger than my grandparents’ home and that is saying something!
As we got out of our cars, an elderly couple came out of the house. The man was in a wheelchair and looked like he had been quite the bull of a man in his prime. The woman beside him was very slender and petite. There was almost a fragile quality to how she held herself. They came over to us and introduced themselves, “Hi! We’re the Campbells. I’m Jennifer and this is my husband, Chris.”
“We’re glad to meet you. I’m Glenn and this is my partner, Rick,” I said.
Chris spoke up, “Your Grandpa and I served together in the army. He saved my life on more than one occasion. I’m glad to have you stay with us. It’s just a small way that I can kind of repay him for what he did for me.”
“Thank you Mr. Campbell,” I said.
“Call me General,” Mr. Campbell said. “I was a four-star general when I retired from the army. You don’t have to salute but I do enjoy hearing the title.” He was quite serious about us calling him General.
By this time, the rest of the family had joined us. I made the introductions. After that, Mrs. Campbell started giving us directions as to where we would be staying while we were with them.
“Keith and Kerry, you and your family will be staying in the little house right over there,” she said pointing to a red-brick home just off to the side of the main house. “It used to be our gardener’s home. It’s not very big but it’s quite comfortable. His family has moved him down to Richmond to care for him and the house has been vacant since then. It’s completely furnished so you won’t have to worry about getting any furniture or anything. There are three bedrooms, two full baths, dining room and kitchen with plenty of storage space. If you’ll follow me, I’ll show the house.”
We followed her over to the front door which she opened and handed the keys to Keith and motioned us to go inside. As we entered, we noticed that fresh cut flowers had been placed in a vase on the little foyer table under a large mirror. The foyer opened into the well appointed front room. The room exuded warmth and coziness. We did a quick walk through of the remainder of the home and found it to be comfortable. Kerry and her mother were pleased with the place. Egan, of course, was more than happy to finally not have to sit in the car any longer! He wasn’t the only one!
As we finished the tour of the house, Mrs. Campbell turned to Rick and I, “You two will be staying with us in the main house. I thought that you two wouldn’t mind being around us old people and our funny ways. Keith and Kerry will have a place of their own and will feel much more comfortable without having to worry about us old folks. Of course, everyone is welcome in the big house at anytime.”
She smiled at Kerry, “Dear, I hope you plan on spending a lot of time with us in the big house. We haven’t had little ones around the house for a very long time. It will be good to have them in our home, again.”
We followed her out of the house and she led us into the big house with the General bringing up the rear in his wheelchair. Pointing to the stairs, she said, “You boys meet us at the top of the stairs. The General and I will take the elevator up and meet you there shortly.”
We climbed the stairs and waited at the top. Rick and I were looking around the luxuriously decorated hallway, “Wow! This is some place! I can’t believe they have their own elevator!” I said.
The Campbells came into view at the end of the hallway just then and waved to us to join them. “Your bedroom is here,” Mrs. Campbell said pointing to a door in the center of the hallway. “It has its own bath as well as a sitting room with an entertainment center. It should meet your needs pretty well I hope. I’m sorry it doesn’t have its own kitchen but it does have a small refrigerator and wet bar in the sitting room.”
Rick responded for us, “Thank you for having us. We very much appreciate your willingness to put us up while we find a place. This place is truly amazing!”
Mrs. Campbell beamed, “Thank you. I came into some money when my Mom passed. The gardener’s residence used to be her home. We used my inheritance money to build this house to meet our needs. Since the General’s been in a wheelchair, we’ve needed to have a wheelchair accessible home. That’s why the hallways are so wide as well as the doorways, and all the rooms are very large to accommodate his wheelchair. We had the elevator installed so we could build more than one story to the home. The General’s military memorabilia are housed in the basement along with a shooting range. He loves to shoot his guns. He has quite a collection of those as well. We decided when we built this house to make it so the General could enjoy his many hobbies and continue to be as productive as possible. It has made me happy to be able to give back to my husband all that he has done for me over the years to make me happy. We’ve had a wonderful marriage and love each other dearly.”
The General said, “Yes, dear, we have had a great life to together and we will continue doing so for some time to come! I hope you boys will make yourselves at home. As I said before, I am grateful to have the opportunity to help out my dear friend after all these years.”
The General looked closely at Rick through his thick glasses, “I’d dare say that you are in the military, my young man.”
Rick responded, “Yes, I was in the Marines. I got out just two weeks ago.”
“I thought you had the look of a Marine. Good man. I have a lot of respect for the Marines. I think we will get along just fine. I’m sure we will find that we have many things in common. I look forward to getting to know you.”
Mrs. Campbell gently interrupted the General, “Pardon me, General. May I interrupt you for a moment?”
“Why yes, dear. I’m sorry, boys. I’m quite excited to have company and forgot you’ve been traveling for quite some time,” the General said.
“After you have had time to freshen up a bit, we will begin unloading your things from the moving truck. We have plenty of storage space in the garage to keep your things until you’re ready to move into your new homes. We’ll be in the parlor when you’re ready,” Mrs. Campbell said.
She and the General left us to look around the rooms we had been assigned as ours for the next little while. I checked out the bathroom and called Rick over.
“Look at the Jacuzzi tub! It looks like it could hold 4 or 5 people! And the shower has so many shower heads I’m sure we could find a way to enjoy ourselves in there,” I said putting my arms around Rick’s waist and leaning in for a kiss.
After a moment, Rick pulled back saying, “We’d better go down and get the truck unloaded so we can have some time to enjoy ourselves in here!”
With that, Rick took me by the hand and led me downstairs. We spent the next couple of hours unloading the moving truck and organizing our things in the Campbell’s enormous garage. A couple of hours later, we were all sitting around the kitchen table in the big house. Mrs. Campbell had a light dinner laid out for us of cold cuts and cheeses and various kinds of condiments to make sandwiches.
“How do you like the house?” Mrs. Campbell asked Keith and Kerry.
Keith answered, “We’re very happy. It’s a very nice home. Thank you so much for having us.”
Kerry said, “Yes, Egan is very happy with his room. The house feels like it has been waiting for us to come. It’s very warm and inviting. I especially enjoyed the fresh cut flowers!”
Mrs. Campbell beamed, “I’m glad you are happy. I tried to make it as comfortable for your family as I could.”
Joe said, “We can’t thank you enough for your hospitality and willingness to help out our children.”
The General smiled, “Joe, think nothing of it. We are very happy to be of assistance. Your family is always welcome in our home.”
“Thank you,” Joe replied.
As we were finished eating, Katie said, “Thank you for the meal. It really hit the spot. Let me help clear the dishes.” Katie stood and started to clear the table.
Mrs. Campbell said, “Thank you for helping. We’re not used to having much company. Most of our friends have passed on and our children live so far away. It’s a real treat to have you and your family here with us.”
The two women continued chatting as they hand washed the dishes and wiped down the table and counters. Meanwhile, the rest of us moved into the music room with the General.
“It’s my understanding that you play the piano very well, Glenn,” the General said looking at me.
“That’s correct, sir,” I said.
“Would you mind playing a little something for us?” he asked.
“Sure, I would be happy to play for you,” I said with a smile as I lifted the lid of the baby grand piano and adjusted the piano bench’s height and started to play some of my favorite pieces.
I heard Mrs. Campbell and Katie come into the room and join the others. I finished my mini-recital and stood up from the piano. I noted that the General had fallen asleep in his wheelchair
“Thank you for playing. That was beautiful,” Mrs. Campbell said smiling at me. “The General has always loved good music. As you can see, he’s completely out. The music relaxes him and helps him get to sleep. If you’ll help wheel him upstairs, I’ll get him into his bed for the night.”
Rick pushed the General’s wheelchair following Mrs. Campbell who led us to the elevator at the other end of the house. We followed Mrs. Campbell into the General’s bedroom and helped her move him onto the bed. She proceeded to make him comfortable and covered him with a blanket.
“He won’t wake until morning. He’s had a very exciting day. Thank you so much for helping me,” Mrs. Campbell said. “Let’s return to the music room. I’d like to hear you play, again. I love music as much as my husband does but neither of us plays an instrument.”
We returned to find the rest of the family chatting about the kindness of our hosts. I returned to the piano and played requests from my audience. Each one had their favorite piece. Even Egan had his favorite!
When I asked Egan what he wanted me to play, he replied, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, please.”
I turned back to the keyboard and started to play Mozart’s variations on the little folk tune. Egan was delighted. He came and sat down next to me on the piano bench to watch me play “his” special music.
When I finished, Egan exclaimed, “Glenn, you are the best!” He stood up on the bench and wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you, Egan. I’m glad you liked it,” I said hugging him and lifting him down from the bench.
“Can you play just one more piece for me?” Mrs. Campbell asked.
“Sure, what would like to hear?” I asked.
“Rachmaninov’s 18th variation on a theme from Paganini. It’s one of my favorites. The General had his musicians play it for our 50th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago,” she said.
When I finished playing it, I looked over to see Egan starting to yawn. Seeing me looking over at him, Egan came over and climbed on my lap. “Can you read me a story, Glenn? And then, can Rick tell his story about the Three Little Pigs?”
I looked over at Rick who smiled and nodded his head. I looked to see if Keith and Kerry were in agreement. Kerry smiled her approval and Keith pulled out a book from Egan’s bag and handed it to me.
Everyone listened as I read to Egan. Then Egan pointed at Rick and said, “It’s your turn!”
Rick grinned and stood up taking his place at the center of the room and began telling his story complete with action and sound effects. We all were laughing so hard by the time he finished our sides hurt. Rick is a natural born storyteller. It’s one of the many things I love about my partner.
Mrs. Campbell stood and said, “Thank you all for the wonderful evening. I hope you all have a good night’s sleep. If you need anything, just let me know.”
Joe responded, “I’m sure we will be okay. Thank you, again, for your hospitality.”
“I’ll see you all in the morning. Good night,” she said. We all said good night to each other and headed to our separate sleeping quarters.
Rick and I climbed the stairs hand in hand. As Rick opened our bedroom door, he picked me up and carried me across the threshold and into our room where he gently set me down on the huge four-poster bed. He tenderly undressed me and then shed his own clothing before joining me on the bed.
“Well, lover boy. Here we are at last,” Rick said as he caressed my chest and started kissing me.
“Rick, I love you,” I said. “Can we talk?”
Rick pulled back to look me in the eyes, “What’s up, Babe?”
“Now that we’re here, can we go home? I’m so homesick,” I said with tears in my eyes. “I know how much it hurts you to be around my family since it reminds you of what you lost.”
Rick put his finger to my lips, “Shh! Let’s get one thing straight, you are my fiancé and that means that your family is my family. I think we should go to St. Catharines next week or the week after and get married. Do you think your family could arrange to be there with us on such short notice?”
I responded happily, “I’m sure they would make every effort not to miss it! We can call them tomorrow and find out!”
Rick laughed and kissed me. “What made you think I wouldn’t want to be around your family?”
“I have always felt so bad that your family has rejected us while mine has been so accepting of us,” I replied. “Every time we went to my grandparents’ place or home to my parents’ house, I could see the hurt in your eyes.”
“You’re right, at first, it did hurt to see that I didn’t have what you had in the love of your family to support and sustain you even though they reached out to me and included me in that love. It has taken me a long time to get over the anger and hurt. But I’ve come to terms with it and I consider myself a member of your family. That is part of what convinced me that it was time for us to get married,” Rick explained.
Hearing Rick’s explanation lifted a huge worry from my shoulders, “I’m glad you’re not hurting anymore. I’ve been so worried about you.”
“I know, Babe. I know that you were willing to give me up so I could have my family back. But do you remember what I told you about that?”
“Yes, I do. However, that hasn’t stopped me from worrying about you,” I said.
“Well, we can put that behind us now. Okay?” Rick asked.
“Yes,” I said with relief. “So, what do you want to do for our wedding?”
“I thought we should ask your Mom and your sister, Nancy, to help us with the wedding planning. We could even ask Randy and Shawn for their ideas,” Rick suggested smiling at my excitement. “Before we go any further, I think we need to try out the Jacuzzi tub don’t you?” Rick’s expression sent a thrill through my body. That look meant only one thing – a great night of lovemaking.
I nodded my agreement as Rick pulled me up off the bed and led me to the luxurious bathroom and started filling the tub. While we waited, we couldn’t keep our hands off of each other.
The rest of the evening was magical for us. Of course, for two people as much in love as we are, spending the evening together is pure heaven.