My mother is also more organized than I am. Think of TV’s favorite Odd Couple, Felix and Oscar. Weeks in advance of a trip, my mom folds her clothes neatly in her suitcase and wraps her shoes with layers of tissue paper as if she’s wrapping a gift, while I often find myself packing the night before, throwing things in a bag helter-skelter.
And even though I have adopted my mom’s sightseeing approach of trying to cover a lot of ground, we have our own styles. We love to go to art museums, but I like to concentrate on the highlights of the exhibit. Mom studies every single painting for a few minutes before moving on to the next. So we compromise and meet at the end of the exhibit.
Traveling together we have also discovered similarities. We are both forgetful. In fact, losing eyeglasses has become our specialty. After touring the massive Romanian parliament in Bucharest built by the country’s late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, my mother realized she had left her eyeglasses inside. The problem: She didn’t remember which of the hundreds of rooms it was in. We did find them eventually with the help of our tour guide, but not without confronting armed guards trying to keep us from retracing our steps.
As I get older, I value more and more how my mother has used travel as a way to connect with our roots. As a family, we have been to Italy several times, where we visited relatives or tried to research our ancestors in small towns like Deliceto in the southeast corner of Italy. I have also admired the way my mom used travel as a source of comfort. Two years after my brother passed away at age 23, my sister, mother and father went to Europe. My mother was key in the planning.
Friends tell me how lucky I am to have my mom as my travel companion. I do feel lucky, but I’m already starting to feel nostalgic. A few weeks ago after being hospitalized with a severe case of the flu, my mother confided in me that perhaps her traveling days are over.
I refuse to believe it. And so I’m planning our next trip. An Alaskan cruise maybe, or what about a trip to the South of France to visit her friend? If I have my way, the possibilities for more adventures with my mom remain endless.