For mom, travel isn’t just about the sights, it’s about the people. A simple conversation can turn into a cherished moment—one that mom will always remember. Stopping somewhere to sleep may become a story to be retold with a joyful laugh as the memories flow. There was the B&B owner who spent the morning sharing a coffee with mom as they chatted away like old friends while I slept in. Or the time mom met a lovely woman who was celebrating beating cancer by going on holiday with her daughter. When mom shared her story as well, she was so impressed that mom would travel to Ireland a mere three weeks after her own cancer surgery.
It was on that same Ireland trip that mom was treated to an impromptu birthday celebration that we’ll always remember. We were dining at Global Village in Dingle, who’d fit us in on a busy night as a last minute reservation. The restaurant was bustling but that didn’t stop our server, the lovely Anne Clarke, from being ever so kind and attentive to mom. Mom told Anne about her recent cancer surgery, so proud that she didn’t let it get in the way of our vacation.
While mom was away from the table, I mentioned to Anne that mom had recently had a birthday. It was just in passing, more of a recap of what a busy month mom had—surgery, birthday, etc. And then something magical happened. Anne surprised mom with a beautiful birthday dessert topped with a flickering candle, while the staff sang. I’d never seen such a big smile on mom’s face. She was in heaven. It was a moment I’ll always remember and be grateful for.
Meals are wonderful bonding opportunities. During our most recent trip, at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast, mom met another delightful woman whose spoiling of us brought such joy. We were late for breakfast since we were packing up to check out. We walked into the restaurant and were told that they were closed. Staff were already clearing the breakfast buffet to get ready for the lunch service. After seeing mom, cane in hand, looking so disappointed, Patricia took it upon herself to make sure mom would have a lovely breakfast. After all, at a certain age, one deserves a little spoiling.
In thanking Patricia profusely, mom began engaging in her favorite getting-to-know-you chat. The next thing I know, mom is exchanging emails and offering advice on Patricia’s upcoming California vacation. To mom, kindness is something to always be remembered and cherished.
On our last night in Northern Ireland, after driving the Antrim coast, we decided to stay near the Belfast airport. We found ourselves at a delightful B&B called The Rocks. This is where mom met Cathy, her favorite person from all of our travels. As Cathy showed us our rooms, she and mom got to talking and there was an instantaneous connection. Cathy was like a long-lost family member newly discovered. They happily enjoyed each other’s company until we left for dinner.
Since we were only staying one night, our visit was altogether too short. Mom and Cathy exchanged a long, heartfelt hug with promises to stay in touch (which have been kept). When we got home and mom shared about our recent adventures, it would always begin with a nostalgic sigh and a retelling of our visit to The Rocks. If there were any place mom would return to from our many travels, it would be to visit Cathy.
As much as mom loves traveling the world for its sights, diverse cultures, and natural beauty, at the heart of mom’s wanderlust is a love of people. Each new trip I look forward to meeting those special people who make mom smile.