The question on my mind to day is where to start telling the story of our trip to England, Paris and London. Today I’ve been looking at the video clips I took on my little Flip cam and some of the still shots I took, plus I’ve been typing up Heather’s trip journal. I want to tell a great story about this trip as it has been important to me for a number of reasons.
I have to say that I’ve found this trip to be a bit overwhelming and sorting through all the events and emotions is daunting. Where to start the tale?
I could start with the flight to London or with our grandson arriving in town. Perhaps I should describe our preparations and planning. But I think the place to start is why we went. By nature I am a homebody and don’t possess the same wonder-lust that my mother had. I’ll travel occasionally and do enjoy it when I do but it does take a bit of motivation to get me out the door.
Some time ago my wife told me that she’d like to show her grandkids where she grew up in England. She still has family there and it is important to her that the grandkids know more about where she came from. I agreed with that from the moment she mentioned it. After some discussion we decided that when the oldest grandson reached 16 we’d take him over and perhaps have a few days in London to show him the sights.
That year is this year and last fall we started planning with a mind to spring the invitation during Christmas. We had made a few changes to our original plan by extending how long we were willing to stay and adding a new destination, Paris. Our grandson was studying French in school and with Paris just a train ride away we figured why not put the offer out there.
In the midst of these conversations my world fell apart. Just a three weeks before Christmas I got the call – prostate cancer and you need to be treated now. Cancer is a loaded word and it had just exploded in my face with all its unknowns and fears. How difficult would the treatment be? Is it curable? What will I lose?
And important to this trip, “Would I be healthy enough to travel?”
I was convinced that grandmother and grandson should travel no matter what happened to me and I asked other family members to stand in if I couldn’t go. We did discuss the situation with my medical team. They assured me that I would be fully able to travel in June. I was less than confident, but we went ahead and sprang the news to our grandson after Christmas dinner.
The offer was enthusiastically accepted and Paris became central to the tour.
I’ll admit that Paris has never been on my list of places I wanted to go. My mother traveled there in the 70’s and nothing in her accounts or pictures ever made me put Paris on my list. But this trip wasn’t all about me and I knew that no matter where I went I’d find something that would interest me.
What this trip was really about was giving a gift. A gift from grandparents to a grandson to show him the world beyond the confines of his home town with the hope that it would expand his horizon.
It has even become a gift to myself – a way to deal with my unknowable future. It has become the here and now that I can do – a thing I am capable of – an adventure still to be had. It is both a way of healing and a way to hold the future at bay. There is still some strength left in me and desire to see and learn more. While that remains true there is life left to live.
And there are other grandchildren in the family and plenty of other cities and sights left to see.