As I sit here at the hotel in Dumfries, Virginia this evening, I am flooded with memories of two of the most memorable days of my life, both of which occurred here in northern Virginia. We have lived in Maryland for the past 34 years yet this near yet foreign land holds sway over us. Tonight I am reminded of the song “Turn Around,” written by Harry Belafonte, and which became popular several decades ago as a commercial ditty. Our son Ian (our one and only) was married this afternoon in a beautiful ceremony held just down the road, in Quantico, Virginia. The wedding comes just four days before his 29th birthday. Where have all those years gone? It seems like only yesterday I watched Ian come into the world on a cold, gray November morning.
Learning that Sally Ann was pregnant in the spring of 1981, we prepared for an eventual delivery at the Columbia Hospital for Women, one of the oldest hospitals in Washington, DC established shortly after the Civil War. We had even toured the maternity ward in preparation for that blessed day. Not long before Ian was born, our OB-GYN moved her practice to Northern Virginia and we went with her. Ironically, this hospital, where over a quarter of a million babies were delivered during its long and distinguished history, closed its doors permanently in May 2002 and the building has been transformed into an upscale condominium complex.
So, when the contractions came in the wee hours of November 10, 1981, we began what seemed to be a timeless journey from our suburban Maryland apartment to Arlington Hospital (now the Virginia Hospital Center). We had just been to that hospital the previous morning for a sonogram, and all too soon we found ourselves in the very same birthing room where Ian entered the world at 11:57am on that overcast morning. Now fast forward almost three decades. Ian was raised at our home in Mount Rainier, Maryland and attended the local public schools from which he graduated in 1999. He followed in his dad’s footsteps and attended the University of Maryland and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology (I received my doctorate at Maryland in 1984). Ian got a job and has continued to live and work in Maryland . . . about a half hour away over in Montgomery County. It was there he met Katie, a Virginia girl, who, as it turns out, has become the love of his life. Just a year ago, shortly before Thanksgiving, he popped the question, and today we have returned to Virginia to watch Ian and Katie begin their life together and to celebrate with family and friends who came great distances to share in our happiness.
It was a beautiful day for a wedding. Autumn came late this year and so the fall foliage is still at its peak color. Sitting in the church during the ceremony I looked at Ian standing up there and remembered when he was born not too many miles away. That day suddenly came back to me in every small detail. I looked down at him in his crib and wondered what his life would be like, what would he become. And now I know. He has grown into the man I always hoped and knew he would be. This evening at the reception I watched him dance with his mother and I can’t think of a moment I was prouder of him. Sally Ann and I wish him and Katie every happiness in the world.
Photograph by Michael G. Stewart
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