Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tale of a Traveling Octogenarian

I realize as I sit here and type this that my parents are prepping me for when my children are older and begin to leave the nest. Anyway that is what I am telling myself. 
I also say things like "This is good practice." 
or "It's all part of the cycle." and "You can't hold on too tight." The last thing I want to be is one of those helicopter children. 

Well, easier said than done. Back in late January my dad announced that he was going back to the mid-west to see his sister and aunt and to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in his boyhood town. So I'll tell you the truth, I was nervous just thinking about it. Having just visited this same state myself less than a year ago I know that there is nearly no way to get a direct flight, that the weather is unfriendly at best, and frankly that it's not the place he remembers. I find facing TSA daunting and I fly fairly regularly! 

I can only imagine what you are thinking right now as you read this- He is an adult. The man is in his 80's! He's educated! He worked in aerospace and traveled all the time! Heck, he took me on my first trips to Europe!
Here is my dad as a fresh faced young man
He was a police officer and faced bad guys! He raised two daughters. Even more impressive he was on the S.W.A.T. Team! That man traveled across the country on route 66 to get to California. And to top it all off he survived the depression! What is my problem?! It's not as if he has not been around the block a few times and I know it. 

Over a few weeks we worked details out.
Flights (booked)
Rental Car (booked)
Airport shuttle (booked)
Place to stay (organized by my aunt, thank you!)
Packing instructions, reviewed, explained, and discussed several times. 
We talked about it all. What shoes to wear to get through TSA quickly, the weather and the appropriate clothing to pack. EVERYTHING. If I had been sending my 6yo off to visit family in the mid-west I could have just done it for her and it would have been less worrisome in several ways. 

Time to admit something I guess. I am constantly worried for my parents. I think unfortunately for me I often project negative outcomes to situations which they seem to pass through with little to no damage. I know this, but that does not calm my fears. Who am I to discourage him? He and my mom had allowed me to study abroad at 21 (I know that technically I didn't NEED their permission but that's beside the point) and he has been supportive of my career and the traveling I do. When the time came I knew I had to let him follow his heart and that everyone involved would regret it if he didn't go see these important people in his life. I told myself "Flying to see Aunt B isn't hurting anyone." I also reminded myself that "there would be help at the airport if he needed it and he would be with friends and family once he arrived at his destination." 

D-day came and went. I saw a few photos that my cousin and aunt posted on social media but that was about it. He was scheduled to be gone 12 days. On day 11 I phoned him to let him know I would be at the airport to pick him up as planned. He sounded happy and ready to come home. What more could I ask for?

The next night at 9:30 I headed out to our local international airport to pick up my Dad. 80+ years old and still traveling here and there. Maybe with a bit more support, but getting it done just the same.
Just returned from his trip to see family in the mid-west.
It warms the heart to see people you love do what makes them happy. Don't you think?