March 18, 2010

Family Travel Firsts - My Mother Heads to Europe

This is how I see my mom at San Francisco International terminal soon. She will be using her passport for the first time and flying with my brother to Normandy, Paris, London and Edinburgh. Given her advanced years, late 70s, I am both excited for her and worried.

I like to see my mother as this statue is, arms strongly raised and in a posture of leaping into the unknown without fear. However since she has never traveled internationally and maybe because I want her first time to be memorable, I am a little worried.

My mother is very down to earth and practical. However she has a tendency to follow rules so closely that her experience of something new can be very narrow. She is not spontaneous and her sense of humor is often missing, especially in times of stress. Traveling with my brother, sister, and two sister in laws and father in law could turn into a tough time for her.

This group of six all have very different personalities. Also, only my mother and my sister have never traveled outside the country before. My hope is that they are patient with her so that she experiences these new places and all that they have to offer, in a wide open and multicolor way.

Until June arrives, I will keep visualizing my mother as this statue from the Hoover Dam, and have mini-conversations with her with the hope of priming her for a better than average first time abroad. I am hopeful she will have a good time since after two months she is still excited, she knows the value of Ziplock bags in your suitcase and she just told me about her trick of taking a sheet of labels already printed with all the names and addresses of friends and family she wants to send postcards to.

So I don’t think I am too far off base in my assumption of picturing my 70-something mother as this strongly built figure. She has been strong at various times of her life and I will do what I can do help her be that way in June.

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