It was her greatest adventure; a dream come true.
My mother was scared to death of flying. She was so afraid that it left her grounded for the majority of her life. In 1995, my brother got married in Iowa, which forced most of the family on to an itinerary that included a 12 seater plane that squealed as the air rushed through the seams. I turned to my sister and said “The family that flies together….” and she joined in, “dies together.” But my mother remained calm, likely with a little help from the benzodiazepine family. I looked at my mother and through my white knuckled fear, said, “See mom, now we can go to Ireland.”
About a year later, I got engaged and one of the first things on my list of to-dos was to take my mother to Ireland. This was my last chance before soldiering off into my adult life to make my mother’s dream come true. So, we went.
Here are a few highlights to our trip.
– Driving through Ireland had to have been one of the most stressful things I have ever done. They just hand you the keys to a car that has the steering wheel on the right and send you out onto roads where everyone is driving on the wrong side. My mother didn’t care. I was her chauffer and she was out exploring the world.
-Maps. Remember maps? Those paper things that you spread out to figure out where the hell you are going? Yeah, I used those. But not my mom. She didn’t read maps and she was too busy touring her mother land. So every morning, I poured over the maps so I could take her on her next adventure.
-If you go to Ireland, you have to go to Blarney Castle. You have to kiss the Blarney Stone. If you didn’t, you must self combust. My mother and her lifelong fear of heights hung off the side of a castle and kissed a germ-covered rock. I almost backed out.
-Ireland is known for its bars, beer and Baileys. These are all things my mother was not known for. But when in Rome…. My mother decided she had to experience the real Ireland, so one afternoon she decided she wanted to go to a bar and have a drink. We walk into this small tavern and start to walk towards the bar. I looked off to the side and realized there was a sitting room and figured out quickly that this was where the ladies sit. Well, I’m no lady and neither was my mother. We bellied up to the bar despite the disapproving looks from two older men sitting to our right. My mother topped off the day when she ordered a Baileys with cream. The bartender just stared at her. He presented my mother with a Baileys and a small pitcher of cream on the side. It was as if he could not bring himself to poison the Baileys with the cream. I, on the other hand, ordered a vodka. Because that’s what you do when you are in Ireland; you drink vodka.
While these are just a few of my memories of Ireland with my mother, the thing that sticks out most is her face. So many times I turned to look at my mother and was met with a look of total contentment. Pure peace. As tired and anxious as I was, I let my mother have her greatest adventure. I’m just glad I was there for it.