Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mom's Trip to See the Pope

Mom's 2008 trip out to see us in New York just seemed meant to be. The trip was already scheduled when it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI would say Mass at Yankee Stadium while Mom and Dad were already planning to be out here. This is a letter Mom wrote to the Davenport Diocese as a thank you for getting them tickets to the event.

It is also the story of how Mom almost missed the event entirely.

The photo is of Mom and Dad at Yankee Stadium. After giving them specific instructions to get pictures of themselves there, this is the only photo they came back with of them together.

I am late on this thank you to the Davenport Diocese. My husband and I were fortunate to get tickets to see the Pope at Yankee Stadium on April 20. It was like it was meant to be. My husband (Steve) was planning a trip to help our son, Steven and his wife do some things to their home. Steve was planning on going for two weeks and I was to fly out for the second week and return together. Steven and his wife live in Schenectady, a city about 100 miles north of New York City. I am always far behind reading the Messenger, so you can imagine my surprise when I read the short article about the Pope in Yankee Stadium, the next day after I arrive, and the possibility of getting tickets. I called Steve to see what he thought. He was on the phone to Father Helms to see if he could e-mail Davenport for us.

Steven got my flight ticket to Albany, leaving from Moline, Ill. My daughter was to drive the 60 or so miles from Iowa City, however, we underestimated the distance to Moline and we were late. After missing the plane, we scrambled with the attendant at the ticket counter to get a flight out. The only options were to drive to Chicago to go stand by to Albany, or take a flight to Atlanta, then one to New York City, to Kennedy Airport. I did not want my daughter to drive to Chicago on the chance of a stand-by, so we decided to go to Atlanta. We called Steve to let him know and we booked a room close.

There was time before the plane took off, so my daughter and the kids decided to eat lunch there in the airport. It was nice to be with her and the kids - time with family, priceless. After they left, I went to where the plane was to come in, however it was late by an hour and a half. When we reached Chicago, the connection to Atlanta was gone. Another nice attendant helped and this time the only alternative was to take the flight on standby to Albany. There were not extra flights going out that were not full already. The attendant stayed with me, reassuring me that I would get on. There was a list of eight people on the board for standby. Soon, she brought me a ticket. We cheered. I had prayed so hard. I knew that God would not let me have tickets in hand and not let me go.

Soon I was landing in Albany. My family was there. Now to trace my luggage that in all the confusion went to Atlanta. We would not get that back until next week. Steven and Laurie went out to get me a change of shirt and underclothes. Steve and I went to bed so we could get up the next morning early and start another journey.

The drive to NYC was uneventful. We stopped to pick up breakfast to eat on the way. We found the stadium and with the placard, supplied to us by the NYC diocese, we were able to park easier. At the entrance we needed to show our picture ID. Now, because I had shown my driver's license so often for the plane, I must have put it back in another spot, because I couldn't find it. After going through my purse at least three times, and Steve going through it once, I prayed some more. All of a sudden, there it was.

It was very cold and my hands really got cold. Now, we had a lot of walking to get to our section of the stadium. There were policemen at every section and a SWAT team on the roof.

While I was sitting there trying to soak everything in and reflecting on the crazy trip I just had, I realize that there must be thousands of stories out there of people who also made a harrowing trip to get here. I had been in Yankee Stadium several years ago. It looked the same, but didn't feel the same. Venders were selling food in the walkway downstairs. Steve asked if I wanted some popcorn. Somehow that didn't seem right selling popcorn at Mass. A lot of us were there all day, so it made sense to have food. As soon as it was getting close to starting the venders closed and the stands filled up.

They gave us a bag of various goodies when we came in, including a gold cotton scarf, rain poncho, and a program for the Mass. Looking at this, I began to feel the enormity of all of this, I noticed that all the advertising had been covered with purple cloths. The playing field was untouched. On the end, where the diamond was, was the huge platform, with a huge TV. The Pope said Mass on the other side of this monitor. My husband was disappointed because we couldn't see him. I just watched and listened to the enormity of it all.

While we were waiting in the bleachers, a priest came around and explained how communion would be distributed. There would be a priest downstairs for each section. We would leave on one side and come back up the other. One priest came over to give communion to two ladies and myself and some others. It still took a long time for each section. I can't imagine how many priests there were.

Once the Mass started and the sun came out, as though God had spoken. The program had several different languages. The Pope himself spoke in several languages.

Connie, 2008

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