Friday 8/19/05 - Arrival in Mobile, Meeting Frank's Daughter KarmillaWe had made plans to fly to Mobile the day before Frank's funeral. We woke up at 4:45 a.m., made coffee, and got ready. Bob and Angela picked us up at 5:45 a.m. We drove to Logan Airport. Since we were flying on Delta, we would be going to the newly renovated Terminal A. We tried to use an automated check-in kiosk, but it didn't recognize our reservation number. Bob and Angela checked in fine, but Craig and I had to call Delta ticketing on the telephone. They told us that there was a problem. Oh no. We had to get on this flight. Frank's funeral was tomorrow morning. It turned out that the problem was that we couldn't sit together. Oh well, at least we were going to be on the flight.
We went through security, and the screeners thought that my mini camera tripod was a lighter, so they carefully checked my purse. We went to the gate and got breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts there. We each got a breakfast sandwich for now and a doughnut for later. Craig was given a bacon breakfast sandwich rather than the sausage he had ordered.
We went to the gate and chatted with Bob and Angela. When an employee came to the desk, Craig went over and managed to get us two seats together. We boarded the plane. When we went to eat our doughnuts we realized that they had messed up that order too. They hadn't given us crullers, and I got a raised glazed doughnut, which I really don't even like. We laughed, realizing that these were all very minor inconveniences, but wondered what else would go wrong!
On our stopover in Atlanta, Craig went to the desk and was able to once again get us seats together.
We arrived in Mobile at 12:30 p.m. We went to Hertz and got our gray rental Honda Civic. When we got into the car, the heat was incredibly oppressive. Craig drove us down Airport Blvd, which was a series of strip malls and restaurants with little access roads to reach them. We got to the Marriott, checked in, and settled into the rooms.
Now that we were in town, we made a few phone calls, to Frank's daughter Karmilla, to her partner Don, and to Frank's sister Eloise. Karmilla told us that she had seen Frank's body at the funeral parlor, and that she thought that he looked very peaceful. She was preparing for the funeral, but wanted to get together with us tonight. We made plans with Eloise to meet at her house before the funeral in the morning.
Bob and Angela wanted to get a drink downstairs, but the hotel bar and restaurant weren't open. So we decided to head out. We decided to make a dry run to Eloise's house to make sure that we knew how to get there in the morning. I had printed out Mapquest directions to her house, but they were inaccurate, and we wound up on the completely opposite end of the street. We knew her house number and were able to eventually locate it, which made us all the more happy that we hadn't waited until tomorrow morning to figure out directions!
We stopped at a place called O'Charley's for dinner. I ordered a cosmopolitan and Craig had a Sam Adams. We got the waiter to take a picture of the four of us toasting Frank. I had the brown sugar honey baby back ribs with fries and cole slaw. Craig got catfish with fries and cole slaw, in honor of Frank. (Frank had eaten the same meal when we had taken him to eat at Redbone's.) It was a nice meal, and the four of us fondly reminisced about our dearly departed mutual friend.
We went back to the hotel and noticed someone very familiar is casual clothes walking toward the desk. I made eye contact and exchanged a smile. Bob said, "That's..." and as we tried to come up with the name, the bellman leaned over to us, nodded his head, and said excitedly, "Danny Glover." The actor was apparently at the hotel for his niece's wedding. It was a cool encounter! We joked with one another than Frank was still working his magic!
We hung out at the bar with Bob and Angela. The bartender was from Methuen, MA, and it turned out that her mother used to work at Danvers State Hospital. That was where Frank had worked for years. Such a small world! Craig had a Sam Adams and I had a vodka and cranberry. The bartender put little plastic animals in our glasses.
Karmilla called and said that she and Don were on their way to the hotel. When they arrived, we greeted one another and sat on the couches in the hotel lobby. Karmilla looked stunning. Though she's 57 years old, she looked like a young rock star, immediately calling to mind Macy Gray. She was very soft-spoken, and it was often difficult to hear her in the crowd-noise of the bar. She was very subdued, obviously grieving the death of her father. Yet it was obvious how touched she was by the fact that her father's friends had come to pay their respects.
I had printed out multiple copies of some of our favorite photos from our time with Frank, and had assembled them into small pocket photo albums to distribute to friends and family. I ran up to our room to get one for Karmilla. She looked through the pictures and we started to talk about Frank. She and Don were very kind. We took some photos and enjoyed chatting.
Karmilla and Don had printed up memorial programs for the funeral, and had brought us a copy to show us. While looking at it, Craig noticed his name. This was Karmilla's surprise: she wanted Craig and Bob to speak at the funeral. Craig was quite honored, though a little unprepared. But he was happy to be given the opportunity to give a tribute to Frank in front of Frank's friends and family. Tomorrow would be a big day, so we said our goodnights at around 11 o'clock.
In the elevator, there were some teenagers, one of whom asked us to "mash" a certain elevator button. His friends looked embarrassed and said "Mash!" We just laughed; Frank had always told us to "mash" the buttons on the remote control or the radio. It must be a Mobile thing.
Bob, Angela, Craig, and Steph toasting Frank at O'Charley's
Bob, Karmilla, and Craig in the Marriott lobby
Angela, Bob, Karmilla, Craig, Steph in the Marriott lobby
Angela, Bob, Karmilla, Don, Craig in the Marriott lobby