Today is the second anniversary of the day my Dad passed away. For myself it’s important to acknowledge this day, and have some long-time remembrances of my Dad, and my parents together. As I started to write this post I was thinking a lot about my Dad and the fact that he wouldn’t want us to be sad and somber, but to remember the good times with him, the laughter and the love. Today I’m going to share a story about a road trip. This particular road trip happened in July of 2013 and it has taken me awhile to put my thoughts together to be able to share this story with all of you. As it happened my parents were visiting my grandparents in Illinois when my Dad became critically ill in June of 2013. My Dad passed away very unexpectedly, and it was just a fortunate circumstance that my siblings, myself, and Travel Man were there to be with my Mom and Dad during this most difficult time. Once all of the affairs with my Dad were decided and concluded it was time to get my Mom and her car back to California. Travel Man and I volunteered for this “Road Trip” as he had some vacation time, so we knew we could make this happen. This would definitely be a somber experience.
I’m sure my Mom was anxious and nervous on this entire trip. Everything that was “normal” for her had been turned inside out and upside down. It was a poignant trip, with lots of talk of our past family vacations, and my parents travels. Travel Man learned a lot more about the family history on this trip that he’s ever had the occasion to hear.
Our first day out we traveled through western Illinois to Des Moines, Iowa. Somewhere during this day we came up with the idea that we would enjoy movie nights at our destination hotel. The movies we selected had to be set in the state we were staying in that evening. The first night we were in Iowa so if course that called for a viewing of “The Music Man”. A timeless classic, and I’m sure we heard Travel Man saying, “Pick a little, talk a little” for the next few days. One of his favorite lines from that movie.
Our second night out we stayed in York, Nebraska and watched “About Schmidt” with Jack Nicholson. During the day we took a little detour and did some touring at the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney, Nebraska. A great monument that tells the story of the role Nebraska and Fort Kearney played in the expansion of the West. It was great to take some time off the road, and just enjoy ourselves.
Next it was on to Colorado and I’m pretty sure we ditched the movie night theme for a wine night. Our destination for the day was Silt, CO. I remember this was such a poignant day. Travelling through the Rocky Mountains, and my Mom playing “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver on the radio. That song has always been one of our family vacation favorites. I cried in the car the entire time the song was playing. So many memories washed over me that day. My Dad loved Colorado and all of its scenic glory. At our destination hotel that evening we had a beautiful view of the Colorado River from the balcony of our hotel room along with our glasses of wine.
Random tourists taking pictures of my Mom’s Honda.
The Eisenhower Tunnel
Rocky Mountain High
Colorado River in Silt, CO
The following day our drive took us through Grand Junction, Colorado along the I-70 to Cedar City, Utah. The most amazing scenery on this day was the Black Dragon Canyon near Green River, Colorado. My words cannot do justice to the beauty of the landscape here. Plus we saw the biggest thunder-cloud we had ever seen. We skirted around the rain for a bit, and then drove right through it. Wow! Looking back at our pictures and Facebook posts apparently we ditched our movie watching theme after the second night.
Big thunder cloud / Photo credit-JW
Once we got to Utah all three of us were ready to be back in California. My Mom needed her hugs from the grand-kids. They had not seen her since the end of May. The last day of our travels we blasted through Utah, a teeny, tiny corner of Arizona, Nevada and made it to our home destination in California. Travel Man did all of the driving for this trip. What a trooper! We are forever grateful for his travel experiences, they always help us get where we need to be. And yes we did have an Oscar Meyer Weinermobile sighting on this day, in Las Vegas. Always a funny site to see on the road.
This trip will be forever ingrained in my memory bank. Seeing my Mom’s sadness and listening to her reflect on such great family times with my Dad, and then being able to share some laughs and some tears with her was a necessary part of the grieving process. My parents were the most loving couple I have ever known, and yes I am partial because they are my parents. We were so grateful to help my Mom complete the trip she had started with my Dad on the 4th of June 2013. We traveled the route they would have taken home together.
My Mom wrote about her journey with my Dad on her blog joanontheroad.com. It’s a great story, and will bring a tear to your eye. A few lessons I have learned about family in the last couple of years; If you have a chance to visit your family don’t pass it up. If you have the time to take some pictures with your family members grab your camera and get it done. I realized while composing this story I am so thankful for the pictures we took. It allowed me to finally share this story, and put it on the family’s’ history pages for years and years to come.
This post linked to the GRAND Social