I was on the road, heading back to Romney after taking my mother
to her adult daycare program in Cumberland. The radio was playing
a popular song when an announcer's voice cut in to say "We've
just had a report that two planes have crashed into the World
Trade Center." And then-the music continued. One song finished
and another began...and another. The announcer who had so much
to say earlier was strangely silent.
I was left to continue to Romney with feelings of dread and isolation.
Did two planes collide in midair with their wreckage falling onto
the WTC? Did something momentous happen? What should I do? What
could I do?
Then the announcer's voice broke in again to say, "A plane has
crashed into the Pentagon." The music continued. Then the music
stopped. The announcer's voice came back with lots to say...reports
of Air Force jets taking off to intercept another plane...reports
of damage to the Washington Monument.... speculation on the whereabouts
of President Bush...a report of a plane crashing in Pennsylvania.
Now the music had stopped completely and the air was filled with
reports from news organizations and voices "on the scene".
As soon as I reached my house I headed for the phone. I had tried
to reach our daughter (who, at 17 years of age, was living away
from home for the first time-in a high rise dorm in New York City)
on my cell phone but cell phone calls weren't going through. The
regular phone produced messages that all circuits were busy. Calls
came from friends and relatives. I managed to reach our older
daughter who was also in college in New York State, about 300
miles NW of New York City. One of her friends was working as an
intern at the WTC. Many of the people on her campus had friends
and family who may have been at the WTC.
Finally someone called with word of our younger daughter. He
was a friend of hers at college in Pennsylvania, and was in touch
with my daughter via ICQ (an instant messaging computer service).
Through him I was able to ask our daughter questions-he typed
them into his computer, she typed her answers back and he read
them to me over the phone.
Calls continued to come in. I was able to get a message to my
husband who was away in Charleston that our daughters were OK.
A sister in law called from England wanting to know why I didn't
"drive right up there and bring her (our daughter) home".
Later that day after I had brought my mother back from her daycare,
we sat in the living room watching a news channel. My mother,
who has dementia, seldom comments on TV news other than the weather.
This night she became quite agitated saying, "Ooooh, someone's
in trouble! We need to go help them." I had to convince her that
there were lots of good people already helping them before she
would sit back in her chair.
I know I was shocked and grief stricken by what had happened
but I wasn't really surprised. I had always thought that, given
all the horrors that had happened in the world, we were so lucky
to have been relatively free from them here.
Isabel Plowright, age 54
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