I've been MIA for the past couple of weeks because I took my mom on vacation.
You should know some things about my mom. She's quirky beyond belief. She's set in her ways. She's opinionated, yet at times lacks the self confidence to just say what she wants to do. She can't read a map to save her life, yet thinks the maps is wrong when she misguides me, the driver. She watches too many forensic shows. She thinks she knows everything, and if you disagree with her, you are wrong, end of story. She has a GPS system built in to her body for locating ice cream. She is the best at convincing you that you also need to eat ice cream. She flosses her teeth wherever and whenever she feels like it. Even though she's 63, she wears her hair down to her waist, dyed white blonde. She raises her voice for no apparent reason at times. She can spend two hours in a gift shop, looking at everything. She will buy a shirt she likes in every color of the rainbow. She doesn't know how to converse with waiters -- it's awkward all around. Yet, at the same time, she will tell her whole life story to a cashier. She doubles and triple checks that the door is locked or that she put her wallet back in her purse. (Note: I do this also.) At times she will sit next to me in a booth rather than across from me, and not think anything of it. She refuses to sit outside at 7 p.m. because of the sun. She brings her bathrobe with her on vacation. She would be happy eating hotdogs for every meal for the rest of her life. She acts like deciding between the triple chocolate brownie and berry muffin is a major life decision. She chews gum obsessively, smacking, smacking, smacking. She doesn't make plans. She dwells on everything. If you think a decision has been made -- don't be fooled; it has not. And on and on and on.
My mom drives me crazy in ways that I can't even describe. She drives me crazy in the way that only family members can, the people you've known for your entire life. Yet, for all of her flaws my mom is a caring, giving person. She would do anything for any of us kids, and she did her best raising us. For all of my complaining about her, I love her to death and talk to her for hours on the phone each week.
Over the past eight years, she and I have taken trips to Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Cape Cod, all around Colorado (i.e. Aspen, Vail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods), Jackson Hole, Salt Lake City and Park City, and Yellowstone National Park. This year we went to Florida. We started out at Disneyworld, headed to Clearwater Beach, Ft. Myers Beach, and finally Cocoa Beach. It was relaxing and beautiful (and the best time to go to Disneyworld -- we didn't wait more than 10 minutes for any ride). My sisters both think I'm nuts for going on vacation with mom. They told me I should be Sainted. They told me they didn't see how it could be a vacation with her around. Maybe it makes me a nerd. But, the thing is, she likes taking trips with me, and she wouldn't go see any of these places if not for me. For all of her annoyances, we travel pretty well together. We have fun, even though on Day 1 I'm usually wondering how I'm going to survive the rest of the trip. I do survive -- and I keep doing it.
You know why? Because someday I won't even have the option of doing it. She will pass away, or who knows how many years she will even feel like taking a big trip. It might not be much longer. So, even though I might rather take a big trip with my friends, for now, I take my mother instead. I will have something none of my siblings have -- the memories of the time we spent together one on one, as adults. I feel like I know my mom as a person, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.