Over the years, my large family tries to outdo itself in creativity for my Christmas gifts. My children and grandchild realize that I have enough clothing, stationery, and knick-knacks, so they try to think of unusual gift ideas. For example, one son bought me a cell phone and another gave me a DVD player. However, one gift from my grown granddaughter, Suzanne, took the cake for originality and long-lasting enjoyment. On Christmas Day 2001, she brought out a huge poster-board adorned with candy bars to illustrate the message of my gift: a paid-in-full vacation to the destination of my choice, to which she would accompany me.
So began several months of looking through travel brochures and planning our vacation. We finally decided to fly to Vancouver, Canada, travel by train through the Canadian Rockies to Banff, and from there fly back home.
We had a great time, and the sightseeing and togetherness gave us lots of time to bond. I got to know my 34 year-old granddaughter better than ever. As I commented, “When you were a little girl, I had to take you by the hand and look after you. Now we have a total role reversal: for instance, I used to put your hair in a ponytail, and now you are poufing up my bedraggled hairdo!”
It was such a relief to have someone else arrange the itinerary and guide me through each stage of our trip. Suzanne and I shared spiritual lessons from our daily devotions, and I was impressed at her openness in sharing her faith in the Lord with others. She could converse with anyone and became well-acquainted with many of our traveling companions. In fact, during the train and coach portions of our 10-day trip, many travelers (mostly seniors like me) got to know Suzanne so well that some hugged her at the end of our final lap when she was heading home to California and I was boarding a plane for Chicago. Suzanne not only looked out for me but was always watching for someone who needed help opening doors or handling trays at buffets, and she assisted them without being asked. I told her she would make a marvelous tour director!
One person told me, “I envy your close relationship with your granddaughter. She seems more like a daughter to you. How blessed you are to have her!”
In the past, I had traveled by myself, but being cared for and pampered was special. Also, it was great having these times together. In fact, the next year Suzanne and I went on a Caribbean cruise together. We also toured New England together, and on one visit she drove me from her home in San Diego up the coast to San Simeon and the Hearst Castle.
Last summer my 16-year-old grandson took a trip to Florida with me and my 42-year-old son. Amazingly, my grandson was just as considerate as Suzanne had been. He opened doors for me, carried my luggage, watched out for restrooms he knew I would need to visit and looked for souvenir shops he knew I would enjoy! It is truly a blessing to be able to enjoy my senior years in the company of my family who look out for me after years of my looking after them!