It was my mother who first introduced me to travel and the world beyond my pleasant, but narrow life, in Beaurepaire, Quebec.
We took our first trip together when I was 18 years old. I was going to school in Lausanne, Switzerland for a year and my mother was accompanying me on the trip to get me settled in the school. It was 1967 and in those days you could book a flight and make up to 3 stops along the way. Our flight was Montreal to Geneva, but we chose to spend 2 nights in each of Dublin, London, and Amsterdam, then fly to Geneva and on to Lausanne by train. It was my first trip to Europe and I was excited.
Being one of seven children having my mother to myself for 7 days was unusual and we got to know one another in a completely different way. My mom is cool, who knew? Right from day one I was hooked, everything was interesting and exciting. My mother was thrilled with my enthusiasm and we found that we traveled well together.
After a wonderful year at school, and some travel through Europe along the way, I returned, worked, married and life went on. I quickly had two sons, went to more youth hockey games than I can count, went to college, went to graduate school, had jobs, and in 1993 my father died suddenly of a stroke at 73. Way too young. Two years later on the anniversary of my father’s death my mother and I boarded a flight to Greece. The cruise tour started in Athens but went from there to cruise the Greek islands, on to Ephesus, Turkey and up the Dardanelles to Istanbul. The trip was wonderful and mom and I realized again that we’re good traveling companions. Over the next 20+ years mom and I took several trips, including, China, Egypt, Israel, the Cotswolds UK, and a Danube river cruise.
It was an easy relationship with both respecting the other. It helped that we liked to eat the same things, had the same sleep habits, were introverts but enjoyed meeting people, had an interest in history and geography, liked to poke in shops but were more interested in the sights and people. It’s hard to find a person you travel well with and can spend every waking hour with for 7, 10 or more days!
We traveled together until mom was in her late 80’s. In later trips mom needed more help and I was glad to be there. We joked that we kept the cafes in Europe in business in those days. We would stop for a cappuccino when we needed a break from walking. We’d sit and discuss what we’d seen that day and watch the people go by until we got a second wind. She is fun, kind, appreciative, and easy to be around.
Mom is now 92 and unable to travel and I miss not having her with me. However when I talk to her every week we never have a conversation where we don’t refer to a place or an incident from one of our trips. It gives us both so much pleasure remembering the fun we had, the meals, the views, the people we met, we laugh at the missed connections, the picnics on the bed after an exhausting travel day. The amazing sights we saw, the pyramids and sphinx, the great wall and three gorges dam, the sea of Galilee, Jeruselem, Prague, Vienna, Nuremberg, the lovely Cotswold’s villages, the beautiful sights along the Danube. Everything excited us and our memories will never fade. Above all, my mother became my best friend. That is priceless.