There was an envelope with my name on it on the rear seat. In it I found my schedule. The limo took me to the private side of the airport where there was a Lear Jet waiting for me. I had never traveled in the corporate jet before even for business. Once I flew with the CEO in the jet to a hurriedly scheduled meeting in DC. But I never suspected that I could use it for business let alone personal travel.
When I was seated the pilot handed me a note from my boss, the CEO.
Please enjoy your weekend with your family.
You have devoted too much of the time you should have spent with them, to business. Because of your dedication, I want you to take all the time necessary to heal the rift in your family life.
I have left orders that you are not to be disturbed.
My daughter and her boyfriend met us at the airport. They were typical college students with no money. So of course they drove a VW bus. There they stood at the private side of the airport when my jet landed. The pilot pulled the jet up next to the bus and stopped.
When the engines stopped, the ground crew took over. The jets door was opened and I was escorted off as if I was a visiting prince. The kids just stood there with their mouths hanging open as my luggage was off loaded and put in their van.
I walked over to my daughter and picked her up so her feet were off the ground and gave her a hug and a fatherly kiss. She then introduced me to a very impressed Todd. I could tell by the expression on her face and her possessive stance that this was "the one".
With his jaw inches from the ground he pointed at the jet and asked, "That yours?"
"No, it is a Company plane. The CEO normally uses it but he extended it to me for the weekend. Want a quick tour?"
I thought he'd hurt himself he was nodding so violently. I walked him over to the pilot and introduced them. Todd was given the "cooks" tour of the plane. When he came back down the steps I could tell he was impressed.
My daughter had stood at my side the entire time. I was her Daddy and she was showing me off. Once Todd returned to us, Ella wrapped herself around him and said, "Now do you believe me? See I do have a Dad and he's very powerful. So you'd better watch out."
Ella turned and started use walking to the VW. It was typical college student transportation. It was around 8 years old, had various rust spots and added dents. They opened the sliding door and helped me in as if I was an invalid. I'm surprised they didn't fasten my seat belt.
When they started the bug up it affirmed my suspicions about being a typical college student method of transportation, it needed a muffler.
I told them the name of the hotel my reservations were for. They knew the place. It was the only 5 star in town. When we pulled up at the valet station in front of the hotel, the VW got dirty looks. I handed the attendant a $50 and asked him to unload my luggage and park the bus.
He looked at the denomination of the bill, "YES, SIR" was his reply.
The bell Captain escorted us to the desk where after stating my name, I was handed a card key and escorted to the elevators. There was a special elevator for the penthouse apartments. The Bell Captain showed us how to insert the key card to call the elevator. There were only two buttons on the control panel, "One for up and one for down."
I asked it the kids could be given key cards and out of some hidden pocket he produced two more key cards. A quick phone conversation on his cell and the cards were activated.
He asked the kids to each try their cards on the suit door to assure that they worked.
The travel department had out done themselves. The suite was the best the hotel offered. It had three bedrooms, three baths, a living room, dining room, a meeting room, and a very large balcony overlooking the city lights. I was impressed, Todd and Ella just stood there with their mouths hanging open. The suite just screamed opulence. About that time my luggage arrived, there was a butler who took over and started unpacking.
I reached into my pocket for my money clip but the Bell Captain stopped me, "Gratuities are not expected. All our services are included with your bill. Is there anything else you need?"
I looked at my daughter and asked, "Do you know when your mother is arriving?"
She rattled off the time, airline, and flight number.
"I'll arrange for our car and driver to pick her up at the airport and bring her here," the Captain answered.
The four of us had a great time. We took the kids out shopping for some new outfits and some new furniture for the little one bedroom apartment they shared. That evening we all got dressed up and enjoyed some fine dining at the hotel. The kids were impressed.
I had great plans for that night before Ann announced that she was taking the red eye back to NYC. The three of us accompanied her to the airport. Ann gave me a little hug and a kiss on the cheek before getting on the plane.
My Bell Captain had found a car dealer that was willing to open up for me to make a sale on a Sunday, a"closed" day. After breakfast I steered the kids to the dealership and as promised, the owner was awaiting us. He showed the kids everything he had in inventory and they all agreed on a nice SUV that fit the kid's life style and my safety and reliability requirements.
I wrote a check for the entire cost, with the promise that he would have the vehicle in the kid's hands no later than Tuesday. He needed Monday to transfer the registration and insurance to the new vehicle. He didn't charge me any delivery, pickup (the VW), or the difference in registration or insurance costs. I guess he felt generous because I paid the sticker price for the new car.
That afternoon (thankfully) I had my last ride in the VW. The kids were taking me back to the airport so I could catch my ride back home. I promised to "keep in touch" and not be such a stranger. I was decided that I would meet Todd's parents as soon as it could be arranged.
Well it took almost another month for all the schedules to align. But it was decided that I would pick up Ella and Todd at their school and fly to Todd's parent's farm. I checked in with my boss and found I was free for at least a long weekend and so was the jet.
Jason just smiled at me when he approved the schedule.
The Friday of our long weekend slowly arrived. When the pilot landed to pick up the kids, we found them sitting on the luggage in front of the hanger I had last arrived at. One of the ground crew whispered something the pilot and he just broke up laughing. Later the pilot told me that the kids had arrived an hour early and just sat in front of that hanger. They were offered a warm comfortable lounge to wait in, but they refused. They didn't want to take the chance of missing me (or maybe it was the plane ride).
Anyway we in the air about 45 minutes, Todd's eyes reflected his amazement with the comfort and opulence of the jet. Ella sat next to me and proceeded to instruct me all about Todd's folks. They were "gentlemen" farmers. They had about 500 acres, a hundred were fenced for horses and the rest grew feed for the stock. It seemed that Todd's parents were horse breeders. The raised some of the finest horse flesh this side of Kentucky.
Ella informed me that they had a small runway that our pilot, after looking up its specification, declared perfect for our plane. Todd's parents were waiting for us as the plane touched down.
We had a great weekend there. Ann was not able to attend because she had a trial or something to prepare for starting on Monday. She had met the parents before and felt she was not needed there.
The next time we all got together was for Todd and Ella's wedding. We held it in September in my town. Ella and Todd felt that it was easier for all the invited guests to reach. By now I had a large suburban mansion on a five acre lot. It was a fitting location and domicile for the President of a major corporation. Yeah, all my hard work paid off big time.
Todd's family stayed with us, the wedding was held among bunches of flowers at "the" best church in town, with a reception for 500 at the country club.
Ann and Ella went all out. It's the only time your only daughter gets married, and I guess the girls wanted to show off, and showoff they did.
Time passed, and life went on. I went back to my "job" and soon replaced Jason when he retired at the mandatory 65. I was voted his successor as CEO. Now was the time of my life that I could enjoy the fruits of all those years of hard work.
There was only one problem, Ann. She too has risen to the top of her field. Only she couldn't stop working. She was always meeting clients in faraway places or locking herself in her study, pouring over reports, briefs or depositions.
I was home almost every evening for dinner. Ann wasn't. She was a prisoner of her fame and power. I was 55 years old and very lonely. Most nights I could be found in the club at the bar. Too many nights I slept in the club because I was too drunk to drive.
Life at the top wasn't all it was made out to be.
One Sunday in September, I found myself with Ann sitting by our pool enjoying a beautiful fall day.
She reached over and took my hand saying, "Dan, the years have conspired to keep us apart for to many years. First, it was your ambition to climb the corporate ladder. Then it was my turn. I got so involved in the practice of law that I just didn't take any 'us' time. Can we start over again and work on 'us'?"
"I love you Ann with all my heart. Let's patch the differences between us and just enjoy each other again."
She smiled that special smile. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting "reacquainted" in the master bedroom.
As darkness fell Ann said, "I have one more meeting in NYC next week at the World Trade Center on September 11. That will be my last business trip."
It was too.
Every year they read the name of my Ann along with all the others lost on that terrible day. I still don't attend the ceremonies because it still hurts.
My motto for life should have been for all those past years:
Use the crystal glasses every day...
Wear new clothes to go to the supermarket, if I feel like it.
If it's worth seeing, listening or doing, I want to see, listen or do it now....
Each day, each hour, each minute, is special.
Live for today, for tomorrow is promised to no-one.
The words 'Someday....' and ' One Day...' are fading away from my dictionary.
I put the box back on the shelf. Damn I miss her.