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  • this picture of my parents was taken in 1969 during their honeymoon to italy. my father, frank, was 34 in this picture...my mother, ralene, was 23.

    43 years later, they took a transatlantic cruise to europe with another couple. once they arrived in portugal, several of the passengers on the ship transitioned off and new ones came on. because of this, the entire ship had to run through their muster drill; sort of a fire drill with life boats. once the drill was complete, as one would expect, the elevators were flooded with passengers looking to make their way back to their respective decks and rooms. rather than wait until the elevators cleared, my parents and their friends opted to just ride the elevators down with everyone and once clear, would ride back up to their level.

    they wedged their way into the elevators toward the back of the car. my father and friend ron were the last two that could fit inside and were closer to the door. before the doors closed, even after other passengers decided to wait for the next car, two men forced their way into the car...pushing and shoving with no regard for the other people already inside. a general murmur of discontent rose from the passengers and my parents friend peggy was more vocal and expressed her annoyance at their rude behavior. the two men of european descent, presumably a 30 something son and 60 something father, became agitated and started berating peggy as the doors closed on the elevator. their words became heated. as they arrived on the next floor and the doors opened, people tried to exit the car but the two men blocked the egress. as people asked them to move and politely tapped them aside, my mother placed her hand on the shoulder of the younger man to show that people were trying to get off the car. the man proceeded, with both hands, to shove my mother toward the back of the car and into other passengers, onto the floor...frank was not happy.

    my father grabbed this man by his chest and threw him to the floor, outside of the elevator door. with his fist, he proceeded to pound on this mans face relentlessly as he shouted, "you touch my wife again, and i'll...." well, you can fill in the blank. ron pulls my father off as a ships attendant walks by. they call for security. the man, bloodied on the floor, and his father begin shouting for security as well, saying they were assaulted by these people. the elevator car, now officially stopped by the emergency switch inside, bellowed a resounding "LIAR!" from its passengers. the two men disappeared in to a stairwell.

    my parents and friends retreated to their deck. ron and my father agreed to visit security and tell the story from their perspective. the other two men never showed up again and no charges were filed.

    77 years old...frank...he'll be 78 in september.
    my hero.
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