Friday, August 21, 2009

My Travels with Mom

They call it the Emerald Isle, a good name for the ocean of green that is Ireland.  The view from our motor coach was all verdant, rolling hills tidily outlined by the sturdy rock walls that delineated the countryside.  No tall rocks, no hard angles, this is an old land, one that has been worn down by millennia of wind, rain and the creatures that tread it everyday.  For my mom who was born in Tucson AZ and spent most of her life in So CA it was  a wonder to behold.  She is used to green in January that turns brown by early June and stays that way through Christmas.  She just couldn’t get enough of the scene, she kept exclaiming on the beauty of the flowers, the bright colors of the landscape and the water; that really amazed her, water at every turn. 

Our adventure started with a red-eye out of Newark with a stop in Heathrow London.  We dropped our stuff in our room as soon as we got to Dublin and rushed downstairs again to do a city tour. Unfortunately we saw little of it since were could not keep our eyes open long enough to look around. 

Disaster struck on the second day when mom tripped on a lip at the entrance of the hotel and pitched head first down two steps. She injured her face, shoulder, arm and leg.  She was more angry than hurt as she kept saying, “I’ve ruined our trip on the very first day.”  A trip to the doctors assured us that she had no broken bones or head injuries. Nonetheless I did not let her fall asleep that night until around midnight and I slept fitfully waking several times throughout the night to check to see if she was still breathing. 

The next day poor mom’s eye was swollen completely shut and the rest of her body was a mass of bruises.  The problem with that was that it was her good eye that was closed.  She was sore, angry and scared but determined to keep going. I did not even think twice about this as it was what I expected from her. I’ve been hearing the same thing over and over again when I tell my friends the story. They all say they are not surprised to hear that.  They now know where my determination comes from and that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”   I agree, she is a trooper, nothing stops her from what she wants to do.

So the vacation continued with Mom slowly changing colors from red to purple to claret to yellowish green.  Her face was a source of fascination for everyone on the bus throughout the rest of the trip.  It did slow her down but only slightly.  The worst part for her was that she wasn’t able to climb the Blarney castle and kiss the blarney stone.  Well who knew it was at that top of the castle?  I just assumed it was on the ground possibly on a hill or cliff after all it is a stone!  No, it was up a long spiraling staircase.  So I climbed it and kissed it twice for the both of us.

Doing things twice became my job for the rest of the trip. I carried both cameras to take pictures for the both of us and went to the places she couldn’t get to.  We did fine.

As I mentioned in the last blog I took along a small loom to practice with on the bus. I was able to do some weaving as we traveled, it worked out well since it was much easier to weave while we traveled than to read.  I was not only rewarded with some practice time but I met another tapestry weaver and piqued the interest of one of our younger travelers.  The weaver, a Canadian named Pat does 3D tapestries.  She told me how she planned the darts before she starts the project so that when it is finished she can mold it into the masks and clothing she creates. I was amazed that she was able to visualize it let alone create such interesting objects. 

One of our stops was a whiskey distillery where they gave us a tour and then allowed us to sample the whiskey.  During the sampling they asked for volunteers to partake in a contest.  Can you guess who volunteered?  Yes, how could I not?  And I won!  The contest was to taste three whiskeys and match them with the bottles they came from. Of course it took the entire sampling to do it (grin) but I correctly identified each.  One tasted of peat from the cooking process and another was sweetened by the caskets it was stored in.  They had originally aged brandy and the wood absorbed the sweet liquor only to release it into the whiskey.  What did I win? Well a sample bottle of whiskey, of course.

So Mom continued to improve, our trip brought us to the Waterford crystal factory, several castles, a folk park and the Cliffs of Mohar.  I enjoyed traveling with my Mom and we got along remarkably well.  Who knew we were so compatible?  Perhaps that means that there is hope for me and Sarah eventually.  We returned to NJ, took a short jaunt to Washington DC for a fine meal at a wonderful restaurant and I put Mom back on the plane home on Thursday of last week.  We’ve talked since then and Mom tells me that her doctor has given her a clean bill of health from the fall.  We both heaved a sigh of relief and then got down to discussing where we will go next year.  We are talking about Italy.  I am easy, I am ready to travel at any time. Just tell me where to go and when to be there and I will be ready, passport in hand.  I love an adventure and we certainly had one in Ireland.