We had a startling call over the weekend from my nephew Scott that my brother Alan had been rushed again to the hospital. Indications were that this was more than just serious, but potentially life threatening.
We flew out of Manchester, NH on Southwest Airlines late Monday morning, parking the car at the Best Western Plus hotel, where Tim House and I had stayed in early June the night before flying out for the 2017 Master Candidate Review in Mulbury Grove, IL.
We arrived at Baltimore's BWI airport around 1:00pm, rented a car at Dollar, and drove over to the Radison Cross Keys hotel on Falls Road. We checked in and waited there for a call from my nephew Scott that his dad was awake and could take visitors.
I used my Uber mobile app to get us a ride over to the MedStar Union Memorial Hospital on East University Parkway in Baltimore. We met Scott and his daughter Aubrey, and my other nephew Dean on the 4th floor at around 4:30.
Though very weak, Alan was propped up in bed with his ball cap on to keep the light out of his eyes. I was so relieved to see that he was not only alive, but coherent and cherry despite the druuuugs he was on. We had some really nice chats with Alan, but could tell that he was tiring.
Alan had been talking about his favorite restaurant, Cafe Gia Ristorante, a terrific small and cozy Sicilian eatery downtown. He had also mentioned one of his favorite wines there, Cusumano Nero D’Avola, Sicily, Italy, described as: "Deep ruby color flavors of cherries and strawberries, and spices." That was all I needed to hear, and promised that we'd have a toast to him.
Scott's wife, MaryLiz, joined us just in time to have that toast. We all had a lovely dinner together, though after only 3 of us really drinking the wine, that 2 bottles we had was probably more than enough to last me the rest of the week. Good thing Dean drove us back to the Radison as I don't think I could have input any intelligible Uber requests at that point on my phone!
I talked with Scott Tuesday morning, and though Alan was doing so good that they were going to transport him to a rehab facility right in the Oakcrest community where he lived in Parkville, he suggested that we wait until later in the morning to see him.
I immediately went about canceling the rest of my reservation at the Radison, but making new ones at the Country Inn and Suites on Yellow Brick Road where Sue and I had stayed when we were out visiting before. It's only about 10 minutes drive from Oakcrest, so that would work out perfectly.
After Dean called to say that Alan was awake, we drove over to the hospital. It was amazing to see how well he was doing! Though the doctor had only given him a 30% chance of surviving the next few days, there he was propped up, smiling, and just really happy to see us.
We didn't stay long, though, as it was evident that Alan was tiring. So, we hopped into the car, drove up to the Country Inn and Suites, unpacked, and then went over to their house in Oakcrest to see Abbie. We had a lovely chat with Abbie before heading over to the rehab center to see Alan.
Again, each time we see him, he appears stronger. And it had been a really tough day for him, so Abbie, Dean, Sue and I headed over to Abbie's choice for dinner, Pappas Restaurant and Sports Bar. What a great meal and time we all had. It was nice to have Abbie able to get out and relax a little with all of the stress and uncertainty that she's had over the last few days.
We had thought we'd stop by and check in on Alan, but it was late. Sue and I just headed back to the hotel and collapsed into bed.
Dean called Wednesday morning and told us that though Alan was awake, he was really tired and had been having a constant barrage of doctors in to see him. He suggested we wait until afternoon to see him. Though very disappointed, we realized he needed all the calmness and quiet time he could get to help with the healing process.
Sue had read about the Federal Hill neighborhood in Baltimore, and so we decided to get an Uber and go; I had no interest in driving into Baltimore and dealing with all of that. We had a great trip in with Jamal, who gave us a quick tour of the Light Street shops and restaurants before dropping us off at the foot of Federal Hill Park, a 10.3 acres park located in Baltimore, Maryland on the south shore of the Inner Harbor, and is a signature Baltimore landmark with the best views in the city from atop its .
We grabbed another Uber back to the hotel, and drove from there over to the Oakcrest rehab center. Alan was dressed and sitting in a chair in his room waiting for Abbie to arrive. They had scheduled a "dinner date" for that evening in the dining room. It was so great to see them walk arm and arm down the hall to the restaurant.
Dean drove Sue and I over to the Mount Everest Restaurant for some Nepali food for dinner, and then over to the Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery for a beer. We just had the best time with Dean, and chatted about the possibility of going out to see him in Pocatello, ID where he just retired from his 30 year career as a wildlife resource manager for the state.
It had been such a stressful and tough day for Alan that we all felt another visit from us would be counter productive. Since we had a flight out the next day, Friday, Sue and I opted to change hotels to the Holiday Inn at BWI, the same hotel that we had been stranded at returning from a trip out to Albuquerque, NM to visit my karate disciple, Carl Parker in 2012.
After dropping our bags there, we drove the car back to the airport to return it so we wouldn't have to mess with it in the morning. We then grabbed an Uber car to the National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. It's one of our favorite places, and we enjoyed almost 4 hours wandering through the exhibits before taking an Uber back to the hotel.
We got glasses of wine from the bar, and played backgammon in the room for an hour or so before heading down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. The flight back was a little bumpy, but at least it was cool in Manchester when we arrived. We had left Baltimore with prospects of another 94 plus degree scorcher and high humidity. No thanks.
We picked Beau up at the kennel later in the afternoon, came back and sort of just collapsed on the porch. We played some backgammon to relax, but it wasn't until a little later that some of the stress and uncertainty of the last week began to let go.