Washington D.C. – We all have certain things that we would like to do before our lives are over. When you find out that your days are numbered, it puts those wishes into overdrive.
On August 12th, 2016, at 3 pm, my daddy, Mark White, Sr., received the news that no one wants to hear. “Mr. White, you have cancer. It’s advanced and it’s aggressive.” The normal questions flowed. “How long do I have?”, “What will be my quality of life?”, “What are my treatment options?” The doctor gave his best guess on how long daddy had to live. At the time, it looked like daddy had months. Daddy’s first response was “Well, maybe I’ll live long enough to see Trump sworn in as president.” Daddy supported Donald Trump from Day 1. He had no doubt that he was going to be elected president. Living long enough to see Donald Trump become president was his goal…his wish. The truth was, daddy had less than a month to live.
Daddy would not live to see President Donald Trump’s inauguration. After President Trump won the election, I decided to call my congressman’s office and see about getting tickets to the inauguration. It sounded like tickets would be hard to come by. In December, I received the news that my name had been randomly selected for tickets to the inauguration. They were for the ticketed Mall area. I was thankful to have tickets and be able to make the trip in honor of my daddy. A couple of weeks later, I received another email. “Good news…”, it began. “There are some people who received tickets who could not go. You have been upgraded to Union Square.” Here I was with an even better spot to view this special moment in honor of my daddy.
On January 18th, we hit the road from our home in North Alabama to Washinton D.C. I placed daddy’s hounds tooth hat on the dash and had a picture of him in the vehicle. A couple of times I cried, but I did it quietly. It’s just something I have to go through. The thought of taking a trip for someone who can no longer do it is very emotional. Especially for my daddy.
We arrived at my wife’s cousin’s home. It was about an hour and half outside of D.C. We enjoyed their company. They’re down-to-earth people and easy to talk to. On Thursday morning, we made our trek to D.C. to pick up tickets for the inauguration from Congressman Mo Brooks’s office. Parking was difficult. We found a three hour spot and spent one of those hours waiting on the train. We arrived in D.C., exited the Metro, and headed for the Rayburn Building where Congressman Mo Brooks’s office is located. Outside of the building, there was a long line of people waiting to pass through security. Brooks’s office had indicated that there was a 3 pm cutoff on holding tickets. It was 2:45 pm. I emailed one of his staff members. “We are here, but waiting in line for security to check us.” She emailed back saying, “We’ll hold your tickets.” We went up the elevator to the fourth floor and entered Congressman Brooks’s office. There were a lot of people inside the office and quite a bit going on. We picked up our tickets, and as were walking out, I asked Congressman Brooks for a picture. We stood along the wall and had our picture made, daddy’s houndstooth hat included. I mentioned that we only had two tickets and that my wife and daughter were going to stay with family during the inauguration. He told me to hang around and they might have some extra tickets. We decided since my wife and daughter were not going to go, there was no need to hang around. We went back down the first floor to exit. Before we left the building, I asked my wife about me staying behind. I told her that I wanted to see if I could get an upgrade on tickets. I emailed Brooks’s staff member and asked if there was a possibility of an upgrade. At that time, it didn’t look like it, so the return email reflected that. By this time, my family had already left to catch the train and move our vehicle before three hours were up. I went outside to see the Capitol.
After a few minutes, I looked at my phone. I had missed a call, but they had left a message. Area code “202”. I knew it was a D.C. number. When I called back, I was met with “Mr. White, we know you have your tickets already, but if you would like to upgrade, come back to the office.” I immediately began jogging that way. I called them back. “Sure I’d like to have them, but I have to go back through security.” They said that they would be waiting on me. A lady came outside while I was waiting. “Staff ID?” Staff ID?” No staff ID here. About 5 minutes later, she came back out. “Staff ID?” “Staff ID?” Still no staff ID. Then she said, “No bags?” I looked at both my arms and held up my hands. I had no bags, so I was shuttled through another security gate. I made my way to the office. When I walked in to Congressman Brooks’s office, a young staffer said, “Mark White?” “That’s me”, I responded. One of Brooks’s staff members said, “I’m sorry I told you that we didn’t have any upgrades, we actually did.” I really appreciated her thinking about me. I traded tickets. I was now in the “Orange Section”, right behind the chairs up front! I reminded her of the story of my daddy and why I was making this trip. It’s always hard to tell the story without getting emotional. The trip meant a great deal to me.
I saw Trump sworn in as president and daddy was there in my heart. For me, it’s about tying up loose ends. It’s about closure. When daddy was diagnosed with cancer, we had no idea that he would be gone so soon. We were making plans of things that he would like to do over the coming months. The months never came. He wanted to go see that Statue of Liberty, but the closest he came to that was through pictures one night in his hospital room.
If you have things that you would like to do, I suggest that you do them. You never know when you might not be able to anymore. Life happens. It was an honor to be able to see President Donald Trump’s inauguration in memory of my daddy. Now that he’s gone, it was the best that I could do. That was for you, daddy.