The first I saw of them was when I caught sight of my brother searching the crowd in the International Arrivals Halls of Philadelphia International Airport. I gesticulated to him with my arm, and our eyes met. His face broke into a wide grin as he waved back vigorously. I spotted my father, who seemed almost embarrassed by his obvious display of emotion, following my grinning sister and her husband. And there was my diminutive mother, running toward me with arms outstretched, and looking happier than I have ever seen her.
“Hi, Mum. Welcome to Philadelphia!” was all I could say, as I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight. It felt really good to see the smiling faces of my family as they gathered around me.
That was the beginning of their brief stay in Philadelphia. They had all come to attend my graduation ceremony, and for my parents it was their first opportunity to meet my stepchildren, my mother-in-law, and the house in which I lived. A tour of the house, followed by the inevitable pizzas and lively discussion, rounded off a memorable Wednesday.
On Thursday, I took them all on a tour of Philadelphia. It seemed natural for us all to ride on a tour bus from The Big Bus Company, who are based close to where I used to live in London, England. From the top of the open double-decker, we were afforded splendid views of all the most famous sights of Philly.
Friday, however, was all about my graduation. Awful weather and bad traffic from Philly to the Lehigh Valley made it slow going, but we arrived just in time. To the sounds of my cheering family, I unexpectedly received the honor of being accepted into the Alpha Beta Kappa National Honor Society, in addition to getting my Associate Degree. For that honor, I must no doubt thank Norman Benton, Bryan Kershner, and Steve Labadie for their friendship and support throughout my time at Allentown Business School.
I spent some time with my father on Sunday morning. We walked among the old ships at Penns Landing, and took the ferry over to New Jersey for a look at the battleship moored near the aquarium. With much sadness, I took him to the airport in the afternoon, promising that I would visit him in England soon.
Yesterday, my mother and I had a fine breakfast in a local diner, where we had the opportunity to gossip about all the things that had been going on since I last saw her. After introducing my remaining visitors to our aging dalmation Fancy, I saw them all off at the airport. My wife and I plan to spend a week in England at the end of December, so I won't have to wait too long to see them all again.
Before I finish this rather long entry, I would like to thank all of my relatives from across the pond for visiting me, and I would like to thank my wife, mother-in-law, and stepchildren for making them feel so welcome. Everyone, particularly my wife, has made my graduation an event I shall never forget. I am so proud to have such a wonderful family.