I am taking my daughter away to Paris for a couple of nights. Each year, starting at the age when they began to appreciate travel and adventure, I’ve tried to take one of the children away alternately for a few days alone with me. I’ve used the small amount of money my mother left me to do this: she worked very hard all her life, before dying while still relatively young. It seemed a fitting way to use the money to remember her – she was always so full of life, and my most vivid memories of her are our travels together in Scotland during the school holidays. I can remember how wonderful it was to be just the two of us, the many things she used to teach me on these trips, and how I would see a different side of her, a much younger, funnier, more relaxed person.
The trips have served another important purpose that my mother might have appreciated, since she was the oldest of four children. I was lucky that as an only child, I took time alone with both my parents for granted, but I have two children, and even with two it can sometimes feel as if one of them is missing out. I use these trips to give each one special time with me for a few days, while the other gets special time at home with dad.
For the last few years I’ve taken my son to Paris, Rome and Lisbon – all much bigger adventures than I ever managed with my mother! But it has been a few years since his sister got her turn because she has been in and out of hospital herself. Last year, for example, we were all ready to go to Paris, tickets booked and planning done (and anything you do with my daughter does surely take a lot of planning because of her illness) when she had another relapse. I have been able to give her special time in other ways, but we sorely missed our adventure.
It has taken another year, but she is now finally ready to go. It has been three years since she has travelled anywhere. Many plans have been made and cancelled over those years, not just last year’s trip to Paris. So this is not just a few days away: it is a real celebration of how much stronger she has become.