Happy Wednesday! Thank you so much for joining me in this gift to my mother on her 65th birthday, the story of our mother-daughter trip to the place of her dreams. To read part one of this series, click here.
The phone rang.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Is this for real???” my mom’s voice squeaked over the line. “Are you guys serious?!”
We were so serious, and apparently, Daddy had just broken the good news to her.
For a week in September, even though I hate flying, even though I hate leaving home and being away from my kids, even though it had never crossed mom’s mind, or mine, for that matter, that I would even THINK of doing such a thing, I, the homebody of all homebodies, would be packing my bags and joining her for a special birthday trip to…somewhere! The possibilities were endless!!…to spend a week.
Just me and her.
“Where are we going to go??” she asked, her voice skipping down a lane like a little girl going to a tea party.
“Maine!” I laughed. “Or…this magical place in your mind that could be Maine! We’re going to find this dream place and we’re going to go there!”
You see, even though my mom’s dream destination has always been “Maine”, the two of us had seen pictures one day in a Country Living magazine, not in Maine, that made her reconsider her “dream”.
“That’s it,” she said, pointing resolutely at the photo. “That’s where I want to go!…so…maybe I don’t want to go to Maine? Maybe I thought it was Maine but it’s actually somewhere else! See this sand? See this fence? This is where I want to go…this, to me, is “Maine”…
I agreed. I had been to Maine for part of my honeymoon and, while beautiful, indeed…it didn’t look quite like the picture she was showing me.
This picture looked more beachy and New England-y. Less rustic and tree-filled.
The only problem was, these several years later, I didn’t remember where “this” was, nor could I recall the issue of Country Living we had seen.
“We’ll find it,” I promised her. “To the Northeast!”
“To the Northeast!” she laughed, dumbfounded.
And to the Northeast we went, via Google.
Before long, after doing image searches all over the area, we had narrowed oukr trip down to four potential places:
Kennebunkport, Maine – while beautiful, though, it looked a little TOO ritzy for us, like a place Regis Philbin or Donald Trump might stay.
Cape Cod – nah, it just didn’t sound right.
Martha’s Vineyard – SO beautiful, it sounded SO right (“Martha’s Vineyard”! Squeal!), and it was so close to being our final choice…but, alas, reviews revealed we’d need to rent a car to get around and that, go ahead and laugh, it felt very dark and remote there at night. On top of my fear of flying and leaving home, I’m afraid of darkness, especially in strange places, and mom agreed: this seemed like a place we’d want to go with the menfolk, not alone.
Nantucket – while this island seemed a little more “happening” than Martha’s Vineyard, a quality that would usually have turned us off, it also seemed more doable for two gals on their own. We wouldn’t need a car and could easily get around by foot or shuttle, it looked very similar to Martha’s Vineyard, and…well, enough said.
Nantucket it was!
And we never looked back.
The lodging options were many, but after checking out every website from Trip Advisor, I quickly narrowed them down to two and, before I knew it, our trip was PLANNED.
Just like that.
We were actually going to do this thingy!
Now, before I continue, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to lay some groundwork about our vacation, for the sake of my own conscience.
First of all, I want to say that my mom is a hard working woman, and about 98% of that work is done for others. Here is a woman who fiercely loves her family, who keeps grandkids at the drop of a hat, who has people in her home around the calendar, who cleans our houses and does our laundry any chance she gets, who gives her things away, even her favorites, because one of us mentioned liking it…
and what is so astounding about it all is that she thrives off of this servanthood. She never complains, she never regrets, and she. never. stops. It’s why she’s so skinny, I’m convinced.
And so here’s where that “advocate” thing comes in: even though Mom has always been all of the above, as I have begun to listen, as more of an invested friend than a needy daughter, I have started to realize some surprising things that I had never paid attention to before.
Namely, this: my mom might be a full-time family woman and she might happily pour her life out for us but, deep down, in the youthful heart of her, she is something of a traveler.
That’s right, a traveler.
An adventurer, really.
Who would have thought it??
I sure didn’t.
But it’s true, as our friendship has grown and our understanding has harmonized, these bits of her personality have been revealed to me and, with them, her long-cherished dreams.
And I have marveled, for, unknownst to us, these sweet desires have been lying dormant, tucked away, through all of her years of homemaking and housekeeping and childrearing; focusing her efforts on her family, she kept them hidden, entrusted to God as she chose contentment in the life He had written.
It’s such a contrast, really, who she “is”, in her heart, and who she has “chosen” to be, in obedience to God.
In fact, it kind of knocked me over when I caught my first glimpse of what she had given up for us.
What love. What kindness. What sacrifice.
But she would only call it “love”.
All that to say, this choice has kept her pretty busy and, though the idea of a big trip to her dream destination would be occasionally discussed, something would undoubtedly come up and “Maine” would be put on the backburner.
It was just never going to happen, and she had resigned herself to that fact and put it to rest, no bitterness, no regrets.
Therefore, as rare and surprising a treat as this was, and as perfect was the timing (i.e. no one was pregnant and no one was due with a baby and no one had a newborn and no one was nursing!!) we decided that, by GOLLY, if we were going to go on this trip, we were going to GO.
In other words, we would stay at the best places, eat the best food, and tip like there was no tomorrow!!!!
This trip was a long time coming — the trip of a lifetime, really — and, though the pictures to come might insinuate that we are of the swanky set, believe me when I say we’re NOT. We just decided that, for these four nights and five days, we were going to be, tee hee!
This sort of commitment to luxury was mostly in part to the credit card rewards mom has saved up for years. Our plane tickets and much of our trip was paid for, and the rest was covered by her birthday money and the teeth that I sold so we could scrape together enough to live in style for a week. 😉
So there you have it: “Go big or go home”. That was the motto of our trip to Nantucket.
Now, moving on, I mentioned earlier that this was a Spirit-led trip, and I meant that, truly; there are times in life when you feel you’re on auto-pilot and your feet, of their own accord, are compelled to follow, your heart is wooed to trust, and the details just fall into place like magic.
This was definitely one of those occasions.
I don’t throw “Spirit-led” out lightly, but neither will I downplay the Lord’s work and power when I see it and feel it and know it and, well before this trip even came up, He was at work in the way I thought of my parents
Christians focus, rightly so, on loving our spouses and our children well, and we speak often about loving the members of the body but…
we don’t bring up our parents a lot.
In fact, if you listen very long to us young or middle-aged people, you might hear common jokes, disparaging the towns where we grew up, the churches our parents took us to, the archaic ways we were raised, the theology that was wrong. We would never flat-out say we are more spiritual than our parents or have arrived to a better understanding of all the things concerning God, marriage, children, and recycling, but…
we can act like it. It makes my cheeks burn to think I have ever made my parents feel less-than from my high and mightiness. That I have spoken, prideful, when I should be humbly listening. That, so focused on my own life and how difficult and busy it is, I have failed to appreciate that they have not only been through that already, for my sake, but are still going through that. They still have a life! A full life!
And yet, when we need a baby-sitter, who do most of us run to? Who do we receive the most help from, the most gifts, the most true and consistent care? Who is there, still loving us, when we are despised and abandoned?
Heaven knows I have been guilty of still playing the child, seeing my parents as two people who are there for my good and my needs without taking a day out of MY life to do something for THEM.
Increasingly sensitive, however, by the grace of God, to these failings, I have tried, in my grown-up years, to do a better job at honoring them, helping clean when company comes or after they’ve left, or bringing home a little gift when Mom keeps the kids for us (usually, a scone or a cinnamon roll), or making sure she knows when she’s baby-sitting that we plan to be home at such-and-such time and being true to our word, or taking care of her internet shopping because the internet confuses her…
these are just a few of the things that the Lord has been teaching me, and I pray for grace to do better and to do more.
But this trip — oh my goodness, this trip!! — was an unprecedented opportunity to practice those God-given convictions in the most beautiful and satisfying way, to put them into concentrated action, and to shore up what was being written and cement it securely in place.
It amazes me still, to the depths of my soul, for I have never in my life had the Spirit-led foresight to personally diminish like I did on this vacation.
You see, I wrestle so daily with selfishness. It is my vice. The baby of four children, I just grew up in this happy bubble of thinking the world revolved around my comfort, and those tendencies have been hard to squash; to this day, even without meaning to, I can end up making things about me, and I hate that.
It has been a long, slow death, one that I struggle with constantly, with much failure. And that’s how I know that God wanted me to see to this trip for my mom and accompany her on a dream…
to reward her selflessness and to sanctify my selfishness.
“Oh, boo hoo,” I was afraid people would scorn, “you’re really doing “big things” for God, “sacrificing” yourself to go to Nantucket…”
I was following Him in this. I was obeying a summons. And, through my fears, my crippling fears of tragedy and separation and change and…gasp, adventure!…the Lord was compelling me to the point where I didn’t even have to question it…
I needed to do this.
And I didn’t just need to do this, I needed to pour myself into it.
For the first time in my life, oh bless the Lord and His story-writing, I became HER shadow instead of the other way around, following two steps behind her as she realized this long-held dream of her heart. I kept a lid on homesickness and swallowed it whole. I watched her. I delighted in her joy. I photographed her like she was my baby. Where she wanted to go, we went. What she wanted to eat, we ate. I carried her bags and I let her have first dibs on everything, which, believe me, was a complete reversal of our relationship thus far. She always takes the seconds, always.
But in Nantucket, she was my queen.
And, oh friends, it was the most beautiful and heaven-like week the two of us have ever spent in this fallen, broken world.
When my mom and I reminisce about our time in Nantucket, we sigh. We yearn. We marvel. We sometimes cry. Our hearts hurt at the remembrance.
We found our spot in this world, mama and me, we found it together, and we’ll never, no, never be the same.
“You deserve this,” everyone told her, including me.
“I don’t deserve ANYTHING,” she said, not blinking an eye. “But I’m very grateful…”
Stayed tuned and join us for Part Three where I will face some of my biggest fears, holding tightly to the hand of my mama! And, as always, to read our daily stories of life, love and humor, find us on Facebook!