I first visited Ireland in the year 2000 with my mother and my darling sisters. I have described it since then as, “the place my soul feels most at home”. I’ve returned three times; two of those trips with the love of my life, Bill. I have always instructed Bill and my boys, Keenan and Taylor, that when I have been turned to dust the three of them are to take my ashes there to be distributed. I’ve gone so far as to suggest they hire a videographer to film the trip. Knowing the three of them I’m pretty sure there would be a lot of material!
As my seventh decade approached I began to think about this more seriously. One of my persistent questions was, “How will they ever know my favorite places?” Then the wheels began to turn. I would show them. Why wait until I was dead, right?
I picked the target date of my sixtieth birthday. If not the date itself, than definitely the year; 2019. I began discussing the possibility with my sons several years ago. I included their half-sister Seana (my daughter-from-another-mother), a short time later. I didn’t want to cause stress or drama to their family relationships but I had to limit the trip to my kids only; no room for spouses or significant others. Cars are small, pubs are cozy, and my budget had a limit. They had to get their partners to “sign off”. I sold Bill on the idea of joining us at the end of our adventure. We’d all have one weekend together before he and I would take our own adventure when the kids left for home. I wasn’t sure how I would afford it but I set the intention.
Last winter, my mother experienced congestive heart failure. Mom was nearly 91 years old. She had had a helluva good run. She knew her journey was coming to a close and was very curious what each of us might do with some of the money she had planned to leave behind.
I was happy to tell her, “I’m taking my kids to Ireland.” My plans gave her joy and we were able to reminisce about the trip we took together. It also gave me something positive upon which to focus after her departure.
I bought our plane tickets in July so that the kids and I could meet up in Atlanta and fly together to our destination. Two weeks later, Seana came home from work with a bad headache. She laid down and did not wake up for over 3 weeks. All of our lives were turned upside down.
Although she is still struggling to figure out what her “new normal” might be and has not yet been able to return to work, she is determined. She will be with us. Her illness gave a more profound meaning to this trip, that’s for sure. We are deeply grateful to have her back. I’m not sure if we could have made the trip without her.
The trip is all mapped out. Our reservations have been made. I have little anxiety about driving us around Ireland but I am concerned about everyone’s connecting flights coming off without a hitch. After all, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule these days. Heck, I’ve even packed my bag! The countdown clock is ticking.
I hope to reach the “Big Six-O” in just a few days and I’ve never looked forward to a birthday more. I’m planning on bringing a little bit of Mom along for the adventure. She would absolutely love it!
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