Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
August 6, 2001
I was nervous about going home to Waltham. I decided to surprise my family by renting a limousine for the day. An ultra-stretch, gorgeous, black car picked me up at 12:30. The ride felt long, I couldn't wait to get to Waltham. When we pulled up in front of my mother’s house, I saw my nephews coming around the corner. Anthony and Matthew both checked out the car as it parked. I was inside, but they could not see me through the tinted glasses. David sat down on the curb and patiently waited. Later, he told us he “knew it was Uncle Wally.” I hadn’t seen Matt in a while. He had gotten so tall and handsome, cool with a great laugh. We were all walking and talking together as we walked into my Ma’s. I remember my brother Keith coming towards me first. He hugged me and it was so wonderful to see him. My sister-in-law Brenda hugged me next, saying, “You look great!” I smiled and returned the compliment. Then I ran to my Mom and hugged and kissed her. My niece Ashley came up beside me and said, “Ahem!” I gave her a huge hug and spun her around. She laughed and smiled in my arms.
I announced I was taking everyone out to lunch. And just when they started squawking about how were we all going to drive there, I said, “Oh, it's all set. I have a car for us.” When the limousine arrived, Keith and Ashley had seen it but didn’t think it was mine. My mother joked, “You never know, it could be Wally.” Well, now they knew it was me! They were all thrilled, especially my mother, and I loved that.
The ride into the city was great, and excitement was in the air. Everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves. My mother seemed very relaxed. My sister Cathy had the hugest smile on her face. Our first stop was the Boston Public Garden. We enjoyed walking around the pond looking at the different trees, flowers and statues. Keith and Brenda were holding hands the entire time, which I thought was incredible. My mother and I took some nice photos by the water with a pair of swans in the background. She wrapped her arm around me so protectively. I liked seeing Keith sneak up to the swans to take a photograph. We continued our walk on the winding pathway. I spotted a sign on the lush, green lawn that read, ‘Keep Off The Grass.’ I encouraged the kids to get on the lawn and gather around the sign while I took a photograph. We laughed our tails off. We continued walking through the rose garden. It was a wonderful family moment.
Then we were off to Chinatown! Keith loves to have Chinese food when he comes home to visit. He’s always saying it’s better on the East Coast than in California. We went to Dynasty Restaurant. There was no one else in the dining room, so we sat upstairs at a big round table. The food was delicious. We sat and talked and had a marvelous time. After lunch we took some great photos against an amazing red wall with a golden dragon on it. My mother tripped on the stair leading up to this area and fell on the floor. I was concerned for a split second, but I started laughing because I wanted to make light of it. I kept imitating it so it would be funny, not a reason to be concerned, and I didn't want her to be embarrassed. As I laughed, everyone joined in. Truthfully, it was hysterical. We packed up the left-overs and I paid the bill. Keith and Brenda offered to help, but I said, ”I really want to do this.”
We had an amazing ride home over the Longfellow Bridge. The gorgeous blue sky and the Charles River were breathtaking. Matt enjoyed standing up and looking out of the sunroof. Keith reached his hand up and took pictures randomly without looking, snapping photos with the camera pointing out of the sunroof. Keith told us he would take the kids to the Prospect Hill Projects tomorrow to see where he grew up.
"You know, the Hood!"
"That wasn't the hood," I replied, "that was just a bunch of poor white people."
Keith smiled at me. “You haven't changed. You’re still funny!”
That felt good to hear.
As we drove Keith and his family back to Brenda’s mother’s house, Keith told Brenda to call her Mom and tell her to come outside in two minutes so she could see us pull up in the limousine. When we arrived, it was time to say good-bye. We all got out of the car and I hugged everyone. As I walked away, I turned around and ran back to Keith and hugged him one more time. He said, “I love you,” while I was hugging him. ”I love you too,” I said. My mother, Cathy, David, Anthony and I got back into the limo and it slowly pulled away. I looked back and could see Keith standing on the lawn. I was sad in the moment. Looking back, I wish I would have jumped up and waved to him out of the sunroof. I didn’t cry, but my eyes filled up. My Mom looked at me and asked softly, “Wally, what's wrong?” I said, “It was so fast. The afternoon went by so quickly.”
We went back to my Mom’s place and talked a bit. I ended up kneeling on the floor at my mother's feet while she settled into her soft blue chair. I leaned my head on her chest and she started singing to me. She sang, Have I Told you Lately That I love You in her beautiful voice. Cathy snapped a photograph of the moment. I noticed my mother looked a bit older. Nothing bad, she’s cute as a button. I love my mother, and I really think that out of everyone, she enjoyed the day the most.