I made a big promise that I wish I could keep. Keeping this promise is more important to me than anything else. It’s not easy to explain why I told my grandmother I’d take her to Venice, Italy. “Let’s just run away, Mamaw,” I said. For the first time in too long a while, Mamaw’s laugh filled the kitchen. I giggled with her as we both realized how much we really did want to pack our bags. We wanted to leave the pain we both felt behind.
The loss had been too unexpected, too unfair, and too soon. Papa Jim is gone now. For Mamaw Rose, everything good in life was gone with him. Watching my grandmother’s eyes as she told of their travels spent together, I thought my heart would break. So, that’s when I really took it too far with the whole promise-making mess I’d get myself into… “Mamaw, I’m serious about Italy. We’re going. Now, we’ve just got to- you know, figure out how to get there. A bake sale, maybe?” I continued Mamaw’s laughter echo through the emptiness we’d felt. We bounced crazy ideas back and forth for how we could raise enough money to get there, and what we’d see together.
We enjoyed this hypothetical journey as a quick escape of the reality that had abruptly invaded our lives. This is a promise that my Mamaw never thought I meant to keep. In our break from life without Papa (a fantasy world, where anything is possible…) Mamaw Rose and I run away together. We go to Venice, Italy.
We don’t even tell anybody when we leave, in the daydream that I ended up promising my sweet grandmother. “Remember the time Papa took all of us out West?” “How could I ever forget, Mamaw?! Are you serious? That trip is one I’ll always remember…forever.” Mamaw smiled and continued with, “I would venture to say that there aren’t many grandfathers who have taken six women with them, packed in an RV together, and traveled across the country!” “There aren’t, Mamaw.” The memories, places, and travels of June 2001, are unforgettable… They’re…precious.
I spent that month, living in an RV camper with my grandparents, mother, sister, and cousins. We enjoyed visiting The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, The Alamo, Las Vegas, St. Louis, The Great Teton Mountains, The Painted Desert… and everything else along the way. Papa, drove hundreds of miles away from our Tennessee home! I was blessed to have spent each mile we traveled in that camper because of Papa Jim. Because of his zest for life, his love for traveling, his love for me and for spreading the joys of life to those he loved, I was blessed beyond measure. We traveled with my Papa Jim and all that he taught me during that trip, up until his untimely death, contribute to the passion I feel for traveling and experiencing new things.
For all that my Papa’s life did to make mine dearer to me than it has ever been, I experienced the joy in traveling to destinations I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see. Mamaw and Papa took their grandchildren and my mother on the trip of a lifetime! Although Mamaw Rose and Papa Jim traveled the world together, there’s one place that I knew wasn’t on their list of ‘places-we’ve-been-already’. Venice, Italy. I’ve been there. Mamaw Rose has not. Papa did not get to see Venice, Italy. My grandmother, though in her seventies, is the spunkiest and strongest traveler, not just to new destinations, but also through the toughest storms of her life. Should I miraculously receive any attention from this crazy attempt at this contest, I would blog and photograph the complete experience. I would have more pictures with my grandmother, and we’d be standing on a bridge together in Italy… where dreams and promises are awakened by the discovery that new destinations create more than we ever thought possible… There are new memories to make in places we haven’t seen, Places that are new and different to us, where time stops and responsibilities are forgotten, And happiness is re-discovered… In a new world that’s different, we find joy in the travels we share.
Even in new life circumstances of loss and challenge, there is still beauty hidden within the strange and new world we haven’t seen yet. The world is different to me now without Papa. It’s unfamiliar and undiscovered like new destinations to the traveler. By creating new memories, seeing new places, sharing new journeys together, we experience the excitement and unexpectedness within the destinations that wait. There is still adventure and the newness is what makes it all so wonderfully worthwhile.
About the Author: Regina Hodge: Photography, blogging, drawing, writing, and creating beautiful art are all hobbies I enjoy! I currently live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with my husband and our two crazy dogs, Lucy and Halle.
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