The Family Vacation We Almost Canceled Was the One We Needed the Most

The Family Vacation We Almost Canceled Was the One We Needed the Most

Last June, my dad's youngest brother hatched a grand plan. The three brothers and their families hadn't vacationed together in quite some time. My husband, two sons, parents, brother, and sister-in-law perfected the multi-generational vacation over the years, and as my uncle got to witness it in person for three days last year, he decided 2014 would be the perfect year to really put the multi in multi-generational. We booked two houses as soon as we could, and we began planning out the most epic of vacations. We all happily looked forward to June 21 when we would begin a week of pure relaxation and family togetherness.

Then my beloved grandmother, my father and uncles' mother, passed away on Friday, June 6, 2014.

No one in the family imagined such a thing happening this year—or any time soon. Grandma spent a few months over the winter visiting her middle son in Florida, happily creating memories with the side of the family she saw least due to distance. She came home with a stomach virus that never quite got better. Eight weeks after complaining to her doctor, tests were finally run. We waited for results, for a diagnosis. The word cancer was thrown into the ring. We held onto hope. She went into the hospital on Memorial Day and never left. On Wednesday, June 4, she entered hospice, willingly and of sound mind.

And then she was gone.

When the diagnosis came back as cancer in those last few days of May, we started discussing canceling our vacation. No one had any hard feelings about doing so; we wanted to stay with her. I started to make plans to come home on the weekends to give my parents time off from sitting with grandma in hospice. They told us four weeks. Four weeks would have brought us up to this point, right now, where I sit in a beach house listening to the surf pound the shore. As I sit in a beach house missing my grandmother so deeply I don't quite know what to do with it...

...other than love the weird, loud, wacky family that surrounds me.

My mom says it's a "God thing" that my uncle dreamed up this large family vacation for the lot of us. Others would call it a lucky coincidence or meant to be or just the way the cards played. Whatever the case, we needed this time together as family. We needed to laugh as an uncle swept the legs out from under my oldest son in the ocean. We needed to hold babies and breathe in their sweet scent. We needed to argue politics as we cleaned the kitchen after dinner. We needed to celebrate three birthdays in one week. We needed to make new memories... together. We needed to gather around a table and eat good food; she would have loved that part the most. She loved by the food she prepared for others.

It's been healing, being here together. To focus on something other than being sad, or rather, devastated at the loss of someone who mattered so much in my life is a welcome distraction to the two weeks in between her passing and our arrival on the shores of Emerald Isle, North Carolina. I'd give it all up in a heartbeat to have her here with us now, bossing her sons around and spoiling the great-grandchildren.

But then again, she is here with us in this space as we heal.

On the day we arrived, my mom walked into the beach house and set a framed photo of my grandmother in the living room. All week, she has smiled her beautiful smile back at us as we've laughed and cried, argued and fussed, eaten and drank, slept and played. She remains with us, in our hearts, our minds, our souls. She is in the memories we are making on this trip.

The Family Vacation We Almost Canceled Was the One We Needed the Most

I never imagined that our annual multi-generational vacation would be more than just a vacation with family. This year it has been a pilgrimage of familial healing, and I am so very thankful for the time and space to be with these people of mine. Yes, not canceling the vacation was the best decision we made, short of my uncle's inspiration to schedule it in the first place. Together is where we needed to be this week.

 

Blogher Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog.

Related Posts

What Do You Mean Vacations Don't Make You Happier? A Case for the Family Summer Vacation

We’re a family-vacation-loving bunch. My husband and I take multiple trips during the summer with our two sons, as I did with my family when I was growing up. We just spent ten days doing the camping thing in mid-July and are preparing for our annual multi-generational family vacation to Emerald Isle, North Carolina at the end of August. We look forward to these trips all year, so when I heard that summer vacation won’t make you happier, I tried my hardest not to laugh out loud. But I failed.   Read more >

Cruising with Kids: Tips for an Awesome Vacation

It all started almost a year ago: "You know," my father remarked one day while we were on the phone, "I'm going to be turning 70 next year. We've been thinking maybe we should try to get everyone together." Inwardly, I groaned. Dad's birthday is mid-January, just when everyone is finally settling back into school and work routines after the craziness of the holidays. Could we really work in a 1,000-mile trip home at that point without major disruption? Still, turning 70 is kind of a big deal.   Read more >

Vacationing As a Mom: Just Exactly When Do I Get to Relax?

Planning for and taking a vacation as a mom is much different than what I remember pre-kid vacations to be like. This packing, cleaning, making sure we have the right sunscreens for each child since they have sensitivities to different things, and OMG!, don't forget the rechargeable batteries for the hand-held games because that 12 hour drive is a flipping doozy and, oh no, I can't find my own bathing suit CRAP is for the birds! Speaking of birds, I forgot to give a key to my friend who is coming over to care for the parakeets while we're gone. I need a vacation from getting ready for vacation.   Read more >

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.