This is the only photo of me and my paternal grandfather – John Michael Wise Sr. This was the first, and the last time I would see him. I was on summer vacation from school, 9 years old, and on my first visit with my dad since I last saw him in Germany. Dad moved back to America, to Arizona specifically, the previous April. After getting situated, he and Caroline invited me over for a short vacation.
The first stop was Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Next, was Knott’s Berry Farm, you can see I’m wearing the Hammerhead t-shirt; that ride is now gone. Before heading south to the San Diego Zoo, we stopped in the city of Ontario to visit my grandfather. Diabetes and heart disease were taking their toll on him with subsequent bouts of illness making it difficult for him to enjoy having visitors. He passed away on February 1st, 2003, the same day the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Our next stop was the San Diego Zoo; this day wasn’t going to work out all that great. After our visit to the zoo we drove across the border of Mexico to Rosarito. Dad and Caroline were interested in this village on the ocean, as rumor had it that a new James Cameron film about the Titanic was going to be filmed here. We had dinner overlooking the ocean and then headed back to San Diego for our hotel. Except we never made it to that hotel.
Upon ‘trying’ to cross the border, it was determined that Caroline’s immigration status didn’t allow her to leave the United States – Mexico is not in the United States. Tears and frustration didn’t solve the problem. Before we left Caroline in Mexico, we went back to the U.S. for some shopping to make sure she was well stocked with food in a room at the Tijuana Holiday Inn. Dad and I drove back to Arizona to figure out how he would resolve the dilemma and my first time seeing my dad in 6 years was cut short.
As for Caroline, some good luck and some well-connected friends helped fix the problem and before the week was out, she was on a plane flying back to Arizona.