Monday, September 5

Mondays with Mom--New BFF

Waiting in the Atlanta airport to board my flight, there was a flurry of excitement as everyone realized that Lou Holtz (famed Notre Dame coach) was waiting to board.  He graciously posed for pictures with all the crazy sports fans.  I was upgraded to first class and hoped that I might get to sit by him. Football knowledge is way down on the list of my successful conversation topics, but I was thinking that a 90 minute flight with Lou Holtz might give me some standing with my football freak friends.
Lou was in 2D and I was in 2A--same row, but miles apart.  The gentleman in 2B was already seated, so I crawled across him (hitting him with my backpack).  As I got settled in, I listened to 2B talking on the phone.  The voice was familiar and the conversation was about TV interviews and press conferences... WHAT?  Curiosity was getting the best of me, but I tried not to stare. When the plane was boarded, he took off his huge sunglasses and Mr. 2B was...
Colin Powell.
The flight attendant appeared and asked if I would like a preflight drink – “white wine, please”.  She asked 2B if he would like a drink and he requested a vodka and tonic.  I chirped up and told her that I would like to buy his drink.  Big chuckles all around (since drinks are free in first class). The ice was broken and we chatted for the remainder of the flight.

I brought a crab/shrimp wrap on the plane with me but didn't dare eat it.   What if I had unsightly lettuce stuck between my teeth or if I had major mayo dribble down my shirt?   Too much risk. Conversation was amazingly easy. We talked of family, golf, work and travel.  He wrote Dave a sweet note (a result of mentioning my reputation for embellishing stories and the fact that my dear hubby might not believe my 2B story).

Every noteworthy event needs a souvenir or three - see picture below.  I kept a water bottle (he handed it to me), my half eaten cookies (we were chatting while I snacked on them, they became a souvenir) and the note he wrote Dave (written on a page of his itinerary for the Little Rock trip).   

While he napped (after his second vodka tonic), I recalled the terrible events of 9/11 and how in those dreadful days, I felt a bit safer knowing Colin Powell was charged with finding the bad guys.  He was a powerful military man and his presence gave me a sense of security.  We spent most of the flight chatting about family, kids and his upcoming 50th anniversary - in light of that conversation, I was struck with how difficult it must have been to serve the country in that time.  He loves his family and like any husband/father, feels guilty when work trumps home.  Public service is a tough gig! In an attempt to express my appreciation, I wrote him a brief note. “America is a greater nation and the world a better place because of your years of service.  With heartfelt appreciation, Cynthia”

As we taxied to the gate, I gave him the note.  It had been a rough week for my BFF, Colin. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is looming large and he had spent the past 48 hours doing interviews responding to some uglies in the Cheney book. Apparently, even a famous person benefits from a well timed kind word from a total stranger.

He read the note, paused for a minute, turned to me and saw tears in my eyes.  He leaned over and kissed my cheek, thanking me for my kind words.

The plane was empty and I still sat in my seat.  I wasn't in any hurry to hasten the ending of my magical moment. The flight attendants huddled around to hear about my adventure. I am not overly impressed with movie stars or rock stars.  But, I am impressed with Colin Powell and it was remarkable to spend 90 minutes with an American hero.

My Greenville office building had a wall of Colin Powell quotes and here are two of my favorites (made even more special since I had the pleasure of his company).

About Leadership – “The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them.  They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.  Either case is a failure of leadership.”
About Life – “Perpetual Optimism is a Force Multiplier”

(Note from Rachel: those are my absolute favorite cookies, which is funny because they have no chocolate.)

Another note from Rachel... my mom didn't get a picture with Mr. Powell, because she's not a crazy stalker.  So I took the liberty of creating this suitable for framing, artistic rendition of what their picture would have looked like.

My Photoshop skillz know no bounds.


  1. I just cried reading that (maybe it's the pregnancy hormones?). I have so much respect for Colin Powell, and I think you're right - our country and world are better because of him. What a cool flight buddy!

    And Rach, you are without a doubt a photoshop genius.

  2. 1. BUT WHAT ABOUT LOU HOLTZ???!!! Also, Notre Dame?! Come on. The Gamecocks are ranked #12 right now! (Maybe. We had kind of a bad first quarter on Saturday.)

    2. But seriously, that is a really awesome and inspiring story. I misted up.

    3. OMG, Graham's mom just bought a Biscoff SPREAD. It's like Nutella, but made out of Biscoff cookies. It's basically brown sugar and fat mixed together, shelf stable. You should look for it, Rachel.

  3. I loved this. Obviously. SO STINKING COOL. Now let's get Biscoff spread.

  4. That is AWESOME. I mean seriously, so cool.

  5. What a FANTASTIC story. I adore Colin Powell - adore!

    Also, I would have been full-on crying (because I'm old and emotional and live my life for politics, of course). He's a way bigger deal than any football coach in my book.


A comment? For me? You shouldn't have. But please do.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...