One Man’s Opinion: Our Related, Belated Celebration

All across the nation this summer, Americans have been ‘un-hitting’ the pause button, resuming travel, family vacations, and reunions, getting out of the house and largely back among the unmasked masses.  Our combined anti-pandemic arsenal of vaccines and boosters, rapid tests, improved general hygiene, and regional reactions to spikes and surges to periodic attacks by new strains and variants of Covid19 show America again resilient, if not still a bit embattled.

Just over two years ago our small family began plans for a trip back to Manhattan and Broadway.  My two loving daughters, at different stages in life, both love music and musical comedies.  Olivia preferred more of the Disney variety, and Barclay more Broadway and the Great White Way...though still also a Disney Princess at heart.

Hugh Jackman, perhaps best-known as ‘The Wolverine’ to millions is also a great song and dance man, and he was to front a new Broadway revival of “The Music Man.”  Trip dates were selected, opening preview dates projected and plans began to come together.

But then a cascading series of events would blow up and quickly set aside those best-laid plans.  First-born Barclay and husband Cody had also been working on starting a family.  Two traumatic miscarriages were followed by a miraculous pregnancy in early 2020, and almost as soon as that became viable, we were doubly blessed with the news of expecting twin boys.

The Covid19 pandemic would soon cripple the national economy, shutter Broadway, and post-pone the show opening, by at least a year.  Our twin Mighty Mites would arrive in the fall of 2020, entering the stage on September 18, 2020, on the same night that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was exiting.

Our family matriarch, Lynn Crane (Shirl to most of us) and patriarch Jerry Crane, would succumb to Covid19 early on, in pre-vaccine days, as did Barclay and Cody Carson and our newborn and preemie Mighty Mites.  Mom’s health would never fully recover and would remain in decline, and Dad’s bounce-back was long and halting. And despite their youth and good health, it would also be a long slog back to full speed for the Carson household.

Our Mites would then experience a host of childhood illnesses in rapid succession, RSV, Noro and Rotoviruses, Hand Foot and Mouth disease, and others, as their little immune systems were built out, atop a world and regimen of masks and toddlers becoming potential transmission machines.  It took pulling them fully out of daycare to restore them to good health.

Jackman and his leading lady, Sutton Foster, would begin Broadway previews in the spring of 2022, to rave reviews, when Foster would be stricken by Covid within days of the show opening.  While audiences remained masked, Broadway re-opened, and after Foster recovered, the invulnerable Wolverine would also face what would be his first case of Covid.

Planning again for life to move on, we locked and loaded our trip for the weekend of June 18-20, 2022.  We would celebrate the 6th wedding anniversary of the Carsons, Father’s Day which will perennially overlap their anniversary weekend, introduce the Mites to the Big Apple...and sample bits of celebrations of both Pride Month and Juneteenth.

And our grand trip did finally come together, a luxurious stay at the InterContinental Barclay Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, visits to Central Park and its famed Zoo as well as a carriage ride, incredible Italian cuisine at Carmine’s just steps off-Broadway, and family dining at Ted’s Montana Grill and Bill’s Burger Bar.  Olivia will join us next week, back in Georgia and Alabama for an also delayed family wedding (along with the Carsons) and news of our beloved Shirl/Grammy, and her final day would reach us on our second day in the city.  Thankfully we had all surrounded her in the weeks and days prior, and while she was still able to receive and reciprocate, we had shared our love and memories.

But for this moment, I will simply revel in and enjoy this related, belated celebration trifecta...wedding anniversary, Father’s Day, and two national holiday celebrations...on a splurge budget, in part made possible by several years of stay-cations.  It’s great to be back out there, and when we did catch “The Music Man,” Mr. Jackman was again out with a second and milder case of Covid...and just as you would expect, the show went on, quite impressively at that.  We hope this summer also brings to you and yours a more vibrant return of normalcy, visitations, and vacations.  We are all looooonnng overdue.  Safe travels all.

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