CONCLUSION: "HE WILL RAISE YOU UP, ON EAGLE'S WINGS"....
THIS IS THE SECOND PART OF THE STORY ABOUT MY ONE AND ONLY CRUISE SHIP EXPERIENCE. CLICK DOWN...TO THE STORY DIRECTLY UNDER THIS ONE... TO READ THE STORY'S BEGINNING. THEN RETURN HERE....FOR THE STORY'S CONCLUSION.
I’d reached my limit. It was time to present “my plan” to those in charge: “You either pull into the next large port, drop anchor, and escort me to dry land or….I fully-intend to jump-off this ship. You can throw me a raft and...I'll take my chances in the water. I’m not crazy or in need of attention. I can-not and will-not spend another night on this floating Merry-Go-Round from Hell.”
When the doctor (from Sweden) suggested they had the right to restrain me; to keep me from “harming” myself by placing me in a “locked” suite for the remainder of the trip, I advised him to “re-think” such a decision. I had no history of mental illness and, I had zero-tolerance for most medications but….I did have a long history as a Public Figure, a Television/ Radio Personality, and was “well-connected” with people in “high places”. If they doubted me…then allow me to make some phone calls.
The ship’s captain quickly took control of the conversation and assured me he would find a solution to my problem but….it would take many phone calls. He asked me to be patient and insisted I sit in his “command center” while he initiated a plan. Nearly two hours later, he directed me to return to my room and pack my bags. He asked that I not say anything to anyone but be ready to leave the ship in approximately 35 minutes.
I had barely finished packing when the captain's assistant knocked at my door. Without a word, he tucked my bags under his arms and ushered me to the main deck. By this time, everyone on board was crowding the ship’s various decks, curious to know why the ship was docking at an unscheduled port.
As I departed the ship, escorted by both the captain and the ship’s doctor, I felt thousands of eyes staring at me, questioning who I was, and wondering why I was being removed from the cruise ship. One thing I’ve learned about life….after years of living….I don’t owe anyone an explanation for WHO I am, or WHY I make certain decisions, or HOW I choose to live my life. I take full responsibility for my actions.
The first sign to greet me when I stepped on solid ground said “WELCOME TO ST. THOMAS”. I learned the Cruise Line had a taxi waiting to take me to the nearest airport. Thank goodness I had one-less- problem to worry about. The Taxi Driver was happy to practice his English on me and so proud he could list the names of the three Airlines from America providing regular service to and from St. Thomas.
I also learned that, for the next three days, there was only one flight scheduled to leave St. Thomas for the United States and.... it was today! In fact, it was a Delta Airlines Flight, scheduled to depart in one hour for Atlanta, Georgia. Passengers were already standing in line to board the flight and….all the seats were full!!!! I ran from one ticket window to the next, desperate to be placed on stand-by, frantic to find someone to help me. Surely…they could manage to squeeze me in…somewhere. I must get home!
Standing in that unfamiliar airport, surrounded by unfamiliar faces speaking an unfamiliar language and…suddenly….over the loud speaker I heard: “Sally Miller, meet your Delta Pilot at gate number 3 immediately.” I was speechless. People stopped talking to listen, and to wonder why a Pilot was speaking on the public announcement channel. Again “Sally Miller, Miss Arkansas, there’s no time to waste. Come to gate number 3. Your Delta Pilot is waiting, impatiently.”
I grabbed my bags and started running. I knocked into people as I pushed and shoved my way through the crowds. When I found Gate Number 3, a man, handsomely-dressed in a Delta Pilot’s uniform, was blocking the entrance, smiling, and waiting--- just for me!
We grabbed each other and yes, my eyes filled with tears when I realized this boy---now all-grown-up--- was my brother’s best childhood friend from Pine Bluff’s east side. Robert graduated from PB High School in the early fifties, then left to see the world…..and, thirty-plus years later, he’s a Delta Airlines Pilot…. hugging me in the St. Thomas Airport!
Robert took me under his "wing"….found me a seat on his flight…and flew me safely to Atlanta. He also made arrangements for me to spend the night at Atlanta’s Airport-Marriott so I could make my early morning flight…on Delta…back home to Little Rock.
Before leaving me at my hotel, Robert explained how….through the years…he’d “kept” up with me; how he’d watched me on television the night I was in the Miss America Pageant. He said “You were like the little sister I never had and, when I recognized you in the airport and over-heard your tale of woe…I knew it was time to take care of you.” Then, he kissed me on the cheek, and said: “Sally, I’ll always love you”….and left.
Robert...And, I'll always love you...for taking care of me. I KNOW God made all the arrangements but he placed his trust in YOU to “make it happen.” Thank you both!