Stories and thoughts about family and life

Vacation with the parents

on February 23, 2014

You all see me post generally about my in-laws when I refer to parents, but today’s story is about my parents. We took them to Europe last summer, and it was epic. We took a 12 day cruise, spent a few days in Barcelona (where my mother was born), saw parts of Italy and France and Portugal, and then spent two days in London and three more days in and around Brussels, Belgium. It was the trip of the lifetime, and it was awesome to hear their stories and see the places that meant something to them when they first met. Louis and I talk often about that trip, and how it teleported them back in time, and we were blessed to be along for the ride. We were even more blessed that the boys got to see that side of them, and got to experience so many things with their grandparents. I doubt they’ll ever forget that trip.

One of the days we were in Brussels, my dad had wanted to drive us to Mons. This is where he was stationed and where he and Mom lived before coming back stateside. He had talked me into renting a van and had decided he was driving us to Mons for the day. We were excited to see Waterloo was on the way, and we made a quick side-trip there (because you just CAN’T pass up Waterloo). My dad had never seen it either, despite driving the route from Mons to Belgium regularly. It wasn’t much, really–just a gigantic hill in the middle of a field with a lion on top. It was neat to see, but it was 275 steps straight up (and then down again) and we all stared off in the distance in amazement at field after field of crops. I don’t know what I thought I was going to see, but it was not that. We had a little hiccup with the directions in and a road detour as well, which yielded us a visit with a very displeased set of cops who were speaking French so fast it would make your head spin. Mom was interpreting from the back seat as Daddy and I looked at each other periodically, completely bewildered. After finally getting our directions straight and getting on the correct road, we climbed our 275 steps and examined the lion, and then continued our trip to Mons.

My dad was a little disappointed when we first got to Mons. It didn’t look like he had remembered (of course, that’s been over 40 years now), and he was a little perplexed that he couldn’t figure out quite where we should go. It was remarkable, though, when he his a street he recognized. He knew exactly where to go then, and drove us to the street near the train station where he and Mom lived. He remembered every place they used to eat and where they shopped from there. He was filling us in as we drove down the streets. We were discussing how it was getting onto lunch time and we should probably think about where to eat. And then it happened. He spotted a little restaurant around the corner and he suddenly teleported back in time 40 years. He sounded like a young boy as he talked fast and looked for a parking place. He expertly maneuvered the van into a parking spot across the street and announced as he pointed “THERE’s where we’re going to eat.” Louis and I both were chuckling at this, because Daddy doesn’t usually decide–he just goes with the flow. He’ll be happy almost anywhere, and he’ll eat almost anything. To see him so visibly excited over something the rest of us hadn’t even spotted yet was really funny to watch.

What he had spotted where these little sausages he used to eat. He marched right up to the counter and ordered, and then sat down outside with us with great pride when they presented him his plate. I had been avoiding the meat in Europe–none of it tasted quite right to me, but when he gave me a bite of sausage, I had to go get one. It was SO good! He was explaining that this is what he used to eat a lot when he first moved to the area, and that’s what he had spotted when we were driving along. To see such excitement in him was marvelous. It made me reaffirm my promise to myself that I’m going to do my best to make sure they get to experience everything they want. I don’t want to watch them slip like we have my in-laws, and I think that trip was a good way for them to see that they could still travel. We slowed our pace a bit for them, and tried to situate our trips so there wasn’t much walking, but otherwise they did great. I think it showed them that we didn’t mind traveling with them (they were afraid we’d never want to do it again), and it showed us that with a few minor tweaks we could pull off a great trip that suited everyone.

Spring break is in about a month. We were invited by a couple of our friends to go to Gatlinburg, TN, which is one of our favorite places to visit. There’s something there for everyone. We’ve tried a couple of times to get Mom and Daddy to go with us, but they’ve always declined (probably because they thought we wouldn’t want to travel with them or they would hold us up). Plus, Daddy likes to stay in a place for a day or two and then see a new place. With me booking a condo, we were going to be in one place for several days. When I asked my mom, it was obvious she wanted to go, but she wasn’t sure Daddy would go for it. She was going to ask him when he got home and then they would call me back. I was headed to an appointment, and told her I’d be home that night or the next day. We were in a one bedroom condo, but we had figured out how we could share it with them if they wanted to go.

By the time I got out of my appointment, my dad was already calling me back. They had talked to another couple they like to travel with, and Daddy asked me to find a condo for the four of them. He sounded so excited when I called to get his credit card number to book it. We were able to get them in just down the street from us. I’ve been working on our plans and how we’ll drive over and what we’ll do while we’re there. I can’t wait to take them on another trip. The couple they’re bringing has never been to that part of the country, either, so it will be neat to show everyone this area that we love so much. I love doing things with them that bring energy back for them and help them enjoy life. I really love that they can enjoy these experiences with their grandchildren, and that Luke and Brennan get to have so much fun with their grandparents. I hope to get to travel with my grandchildren like that one day.


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