When the phone rings at 3:43 a.m. it’s never good news.
The call came Saturday, August 3, 2013. It’s a call forever etched in my memory.
She’d been doing well and looked great. This wasn’t expected at all.
We hadn’t decided on our next trip yet.
Will it be beach or mountains?
That’s where we left things.
She wasn’t ready for this. I wasn’t ready for this. We had more to see together.
As any lover of travel will confirm there are certain companions who make the trip fun. That individual who is always up for the journey and ready to go – just say when.
That was Mom. Her fun-loving attitude and easy-going nature made her an ideal travel partner.
A large portion of my love of travel can be attributed to her. From the time I was small, she was the heart and soul of family trips. Her enthusiasm made it more fun for the rest of us.
I recall the time she and Dad were traveling and she called to check in back home.
“We’re at the Comfort Inn in Zanesville, Ohio” she beamed over the phone.
From the joy in her voice, she could have been standing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It didn’t matter the destination it was the journey and who she was with that was important to her.
She was the one who taught me to pack. Garments always neatly layered, a blazer for cool places, and shoes – soles towards heaven, naturally. Her insistence I pin my money inside my clothes seemed a bit excessive, but hey she grew up in New York City so I acquiesced. She had some street cred after all.
We took many mother-daughter adventures through the years and I’m eternally grateful. We enjoyed abundant good times and several of what I call “Lucy and Ethel” moments.
I remember the laughter and the terror we shared on our first trip to Ireland. At 19 I wasn’t old enough to drive a rental car so Mom was let loose in Dublin rush hour traffic on the wrong side of the road. To this day I’m amazed she managed to get us out of that city in one piece. However, I never let her drive again after that.
She was the one who bought me my first travel journal. The blue denim book with the words “Gnome Notebook” inscribed on the cover. That book evolved into my travel writing. No destination is too insignificant; each has a story to tell and precious memories to take note of.
A good traveling companion is a good sport, someone who goes with the flow and doesn’t mind a few excursions, not on their bucket list. Mom had absolutely no interest in finding that cross-walk the Beatles made famous on Abbey Road in London, but she knew it was important to me.
I gladly reciprocated when she wanted to visit Babyland General (the Cabbage Patch doll hospital). I went with a smile on my face. It was important to her.
We saw and did so much and I often wonder if Dad was that “angel in my ear” nudging me to plan another road trip last fall. Whatever the reason, the trip to Mississippi is now a treasured memory.
Each trip we took together brought us closer in a way only a mother and daughter understand. Our journeys served as more than sightseeing adventures. Traveling together solidified the bond that permits a mother and daughter to transform into life-long best friends.
Though she won’t be riding shotgun anymore I know she’ll always be there with me. I’ll look at things in a different light and think to myself, “I bet Mom would love seeing this.”
There was still more for us to do and see together but life had other plans. I’ve lost a treasured traveling companion but her spirit will continue to ride with me. And when I travel I’ll write about it and she’ll know.
Safe home Mom.