Life List: Take Another Trip With Dad

Things I inherited from my dad*: eyes, coloring, reclusive nature, appreciation of high class things, reading bug, fascination with history, love of cooking and eating great food, impulse to travel

Lots of those things tie together, and never in a better way than when Dad decided it’s time to take a trip.

He wasn’t around much when I was growing up. He wasn’t absent, but he came in somewhere a little light of the classic every-other-weekend-and-two-weeks-in-the-summer standard with which every child of divorce is well familiar. We didn’t have anything in common. Or if we did, we didn’t know it.

We had a breakthrough the summer of my junior year in high school. Dad was going on a trip to Europe, courtesy of his employer. He was a salesman, and the highest earners each year went on a swank trip. He went on a lot of trips. Normally his wife went along, but sometimes the travel fell during their semi-regular breakups. He was meeting a coworker and his wife in New York before they took off (Maybe for Kenya? I get the trips mixed up) and decided to make a weekend of it. I got invited as the stand-in fourth. I was crushed to realize the trip fell in the middle of my spring break trip with my friends, which I would probably have ditched except that I had already shelled out a chunk of my savings for my share of the hotel. But Dad threw open that door that felt so glamorous to me, where anything could be fixed, and experience could be upgraded. He simply flew me from the beach to New York City and then returned me to my friends the following night. On that trip, my first to that city, I saw a Broadway play (Cats). We ate at a famous restaurant (that I’m chagrined to say I can’t remember — Brown Derby Manhattan outpost?) and it was the first time I’d ever seen an a la carte menu. I was shocked that vegetables were extra. I wore my homecoming dress. We stayed at the Marriot Marquis and I sat looking out the window long into the night. Dad made sure we had a room with a view of Times Square. The next day before returning me to the airport he took me to Tavern On the Green. Dazzling. I ordered a soft-shelled crab sandwich and then couldn’t eat more than a bite when I saw that it was a whole, crab-shaped crab still in the shell. I thought soft-shelled was just a name.

It was the beginning of our adult relationship. I think we both had more fun than we expected. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we enjoyed each other’s company more than we expected.

They broke up again and the summer after I graduated Dad took me to London. We poked our noses in all the sites of some of our favorite historical spots — Westiminster Abbey, The Tower of London, Stonehenge. We talked about the book Sarum, which he’d given me to read the year before. A month later his company sent him on yet another trip and this time I got to go along. We spent a week in Italy, based in Rome. When I was little Dad had given me replicas of all the coins minted during the reign of the Caesars. We talked about Tiberius while standing on a balcony on Capri. I had my first caprese salad there and spent futile years back home asking for “that cheese that looks like melting ice cream” before fresh mozzarella became common.

We’ve gone to Jalisco in Mexico. We’ve gone to Kauai. Dad took me on a long trip to Egypt, a dream come true for both of us. I’ve stood inside the Great Pyramid with him. We rode camels in the Sahara. We flew deep into the desert to see Abu Simbel. We traveled the length of the country, living on a boat on the Nile.

My dad’s health is not great now. He’s unsteady. He doesn’t have any stamina. He’s got a lot going on. I want one more trip with him. I know he wants the same. It will have to be a different kind of trip. I’m thinking a cruise, which will do most of the work for us. He’s got grander ideas, but I think we might be lucky to pull off something even minimally ambitious. This is about a lot more than a trip, of course. I want him to know that it’s more him I’m after than any fancy destination. I want my sons to have done this with him, to understand the source of our love of travel and of history. My dad never gives me parenting advice. All he’s ever said is to be sure to take them out into the world. He should be a part of that.

I’ve been begging and prodding and nagging him to try to get his health in order. I know that he probably won’t. We can’t go unless he does. This is a big goal on the list, and one largely out of my control. It’s reflective of a bigger wish; and a reminder to do what small bit I can to push things in a good direction.

*Things I wish I’d inherited, but did not: height, killer charm

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Whatever you might think, you certainly have killer charm.
    I hope you get to go on your trip.

    Reply

  2. Whatever you might think, you certainly have killer charm.
    I hope you get to go on your trip.

    Reply

  3. Thank you and thank you.

    Reply

  4. Jillian, I haven’t known what to say about your dad, but after reading this particular entry, I have to try to express something. This entry speaks of love, and family, and those things you’re going to pass on to your boys. This entry is a lovely tribute, and I hope that thoughts and memories like those you have here will help sustain you now.
    Thinking of you fondly…

    Reply

  5. Jillian, I haven’t known what to say about your dad, but after reading this particular entry, I have to try to express something. This entry speaks of love, and family, and those things you’re going to pass on to your boys. This entry is a lovely tribute, and I hope that thoughts and memories like those you have here will help sustain you now.
    Thinking of you fondly…

    Reply

  6. Thank you. I’ve been really glad I wrote that entry when I did.

    Reply

  7. […] American Sign Language Attend Alden and Elliot’s College Graduations Grow an Herb Garden Take Another Trip With Dad Live Abroad for At Least Six […]

    Reply

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