I have been putting off writing this for days, weeks even as every time I think about it I find myself getting tearful. Yet I need to do it. While I can.
Last year I made a major decision to go travelling. I have wanted to visit New Zealand for longer than I can remember. I had an old uni friend in Melbourne who I wanted to visit and wanted to see some kangaroos and koalas and Sydney Harbour. My husband has always wanted to visit California and drive the Big Sur and slowly we built a
bucket list round the world itinerary.
And we knew we had to do it sooner than later as we both had 79 year old moms who had had a few health scares. It was agreed that our children would update their grandmothers on our progress as we intended only to keep in touch on line. No phone calls. No post cards.
Despite having failing eyesight my mom was at the time relatively digitally engaged. She was on Facebook and used email regularly to keep in touch with friends she had made around the world on her own travels. So that she could still use her computer she had invested in all sorts of gadgets and software.
The mom in law, on the other hand thinks computers are the work of the devil. She also thought going off round the world at our age was a teeny bit selfish. It wasn’t. It was very selfish of us. That was the point. After 30 years of doing jobs that sometimes we loved, often hated, a combination of at least 7 redundancies between us (we stopped counting) living below the line when on benefits and bringing up two children, we decided that it was time to do something just for us. While we can.
So here’s the thing. If we had put off travelling when we did, because of all the excuses we had made for the past 26 years we may never have gone. So many travel bloggers say don’t put it off, because you have kids, you have a house, you have a good job, you don’t have a job, you are scared, you have a boy or girl friend who doesn’t want you to go, it’s not the right time, and they are right, none of these are good enough reasons not to go.
In July 2011 I was offered another 6 to 9 months contract in my job. If I had accepted I would have been unhappier than I could imagine, doing a job I no longer loved. I had achieved everything I had set out to do and needed a new challenge. I begged to be made redundant. I told my stunned boss that there was a plane ticket with my name on it and now was the time to use it.
The day I accepted my severance package everything else fell into place. The Melbourne visit became a house sit for 6 weeks, we found perfect tenants for the house, and the airfares were exactly the same amount as the enhanced part of my redundancy pay. So we booked our flights and did it, while we could.
Mom was delighted when I told her we were going. And actually she is the only person who, on our return, was genuinely interested in where we had been and what we had done.
In the past 3 months my mom has become more or less housebound as she has to have oxygen 24/7, can barely walk across a room without becoming breathless, has to have a carer come in to get her out of bed and wash her and has had a stair lift installed. I could not go off on a 5 month round the world trip now as I want to be near to my mom. Having a mom who is blind and wheelchair bound, is a reason not to go. Mom doesn’t want to be a virtual prisoner in her home she wants to be boarding a plane to go somewhere warm to escape the cold and rain in England. She wants to be in Luxor or Bangkok or Singapore or… well anywhere but home. But that is unlikely to happen. So what she talks of now is a short stay in Switzerland.
So do it while you can.
This is my mom. As I know her. Not the frail woman I hardly recognise. Thank you mom for giving me the travel bug.
- Money Matters – Case History – Grown-up Gapper (sainsburysbank.co.uk)
- Six Risks to Take on Your Round the World Trip (bootsnall.com)
- World tours take off for over-50s (confused.com)
- Melbourne laneways. Every space matters (humanscalecity.org)
- Do You Have A Bucket List? (newfoundlandtraveller.wordpress.com)