Uncle Mort would have called it a “Kodak moment,” had he been aboard Carnival’s Miracle cruise ship on that beautiful July afternoon. I’ll update his predictable observation by a few decades and label it a “digital moment.” Cameras hung from straps around the necks of the gawkers, and the photos that were snapped as we chugged toward the Atlantic were many.
My wife and I were among a crowd of folks, mostly New Yorkers, waving good-bye to the always breath-taking skyline of New York City.
It’s a special time when cruisers hear the ship’s lingering horn blast — the signal that vacations have begun. Its message that the luxurious vessel is about to put out to sea is a welcome sound to the ears of vacationers, most of whom have already been on board for two or three hours…
I thought of my 97-year-old Uncle Mort who lives down in the East Texas thicket. Upon my return, I knew he would want a “blow-by-blow” account of our leisurely cruise down to San Juan.
My lips “mouthed” what I knew would be his exact words: “I hope you took your Kodak.” I would tell him that I “never leave home without it,” fully expecting him to “mouth” my words back to me.
Cruises always hold unexpected adventures. At the rail nearby stood a man with eyes locked on the Empire State Building as it faded from sight. He appeared to be about my age, but, more surprisingly, looked like a “young Uncle Mort.” A lively conversation followed…
“Sir, your name wouldn’t happen to be ‘Mort,’ would it?” I asked. “You’re a carbon copy of my uncle who lives down in the thicket of East Texas.”
“Nope,” he answered, “My name’s Mortimer, and I live up in the Adirondacks of New York.”
Asked if this was his first cruise vacation, he paused before offering a studied, laborious answer — the kind my uncle would give…
“Well, I told my wife a while back that we might consider remaining at home this summer for a ‘staycation,’” he began.
His face told me that his words were misspent. She was “dead set” on cruising, her decision padded by “rock bottom prices.” She added, “We’ll even be able to take my mother.”
Wilting, Mortimer decided that it was not a vacation or a “staycation.” Confessing that he’s “always liked his wife’s mother-in-law heaps more than he likes his own,” he confided that perhaps the trip could more accurately be called an ‘obli-cation.’”…
Later, my wife and I perused materials about the ports we’d visit, nightly entertainment we’d enjoy and sumptuous meals we’d consume. Then, we read about Camp Carnival’s programs for youngsters from ages 2-11 to keep them happy throughout each day. (No wonder so many young parents smiled broadly at the prospect of turning their young charges over to the camp staff!)
Then, an initiative new to us grabbed our attention. At mid-week, there’d be an “On Deck for the Cure” walk, with proceeds directed to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, an organization dedicated to breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.
My wife is a cancer survivor, having undergone a double mastectomy three months ago. We signed up immediately.
On the day of the walk, we wore our trademark pink-trimmed T-shirts. Brenda joined a couple of dozen others to lead the one-mile parade. The rest of us, perhaps 150, followed along. We all wound up at the pink lemonade stand. Our cruise director explained that the fund-raiser has been enthusiastically received, and that the deck walk on his ship raises $2,000-$2,500 on every cruise…
Turns out that five cruise lines now participate in the program, with such deck walks providing more than $3 million to the Komen Foundation.
Cancer is never a cake walk, but ongoing deck walks help as notable strides are made against the disease each year.
We smile at the thought of this project being so much an “American thing,” voluntarily and enthusiastically supported by the masses. And, from the standpoint of folks who love to cruise, it’s pleasant to think of upcoming glorious meals that are next on the agenda. We can put away the groceries with a lessened sense of guilt if we walk first. I thought also of the “Uncle Mort look-alike,” and how unexpected grand adventures occur every time we cruise…
Don Newbury is a speaker and author whose weekly column appears in 125 newspapers in six states. He welcomes comments and inquiries. Call him at (817) 447-3872, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org His Web site is www.speakerdoc.com.