“I will exercise more and make my heart stronger. Just watch!”
My father-in-law was lying in a hospital bed, looking frail, yet defiant. It was hard for me to believe that not long ago (or maybe it seems not long ago) he was building our house. He’s been having heart problems over the last decade, but multiple surgeries provided a temporary fix. Not this time.
The doctor told him that his heart is in a very bad shape and there is nothing they can do. Well, they can adjust the meds etc., but it’s not the type of damage that can be reversed. The doctor did mention that most people in my father-in-law’s condition sit at home, unable to make more than a few steps. That made him very happy, as he loves to beat the odds! You won’t find him sitting on his rocker, he is always on the move. But the age…it catches up to you.
My father-in-law is a truly exceptional guy. Kind and honorable, he is the type of person I want my son to grow up to be.
While raising three kids, the money was always tight for my father-in-law. Back then, middle-class families didn’t travel internationally. It was unheard of. But he sure made up for it when he retired. He’s been to Africa, Europe (several times), Canada, Hawaii and multiple Caribbean islands.
Enjoying the views in Madeira island (Portugal)
But there is one place he has always wanted to visit, and one that has eluded him so far: Australia. When my in-laws were newly married, they seriously considered moving there. There was a program that gave a path to Australian citizenship, and being the adventurous type, they decided to go for it.
Well, until they told my father-in-law’s mom. She went hysterical because she figured (rightfully so) that they would never see each other again. My father-in-law loved his mom more than he loved Australia, so they stayed in US. It’s a good thing, too, because I wouldn’t meet my husband otherwise.
But Australia beckoned, and finally we made a plan to go there this summer. Everything is booked and paid for. The question is: can my father-in-law handle such a difficult journey? When I asked him if perhaps it’s best to cancel, he was offended that I would even consider such a thing. Well, the heart, Pops, your weak heart! I guess if he kicks the bucket in Sydney, he will get his Australian “citizenship” and permanent residence. Oh yeah, we are leaving him behind 🙂
People often wait for the perfect time to travel: When I make more money, when my kids are older, when there is a non-stop route to my favorite destination. Some of those concerns are reasonable. If you are in debt (aside from mortgage and maybe car payment), you should probably put travel on hold or at least stick to cheap local getaways. I also think it’s best to wait till your kids are out of bulky car seats when planning faraway/exotic trips.
But I don’t believe there is such a thing as perfect timing. I can think of a million things in our house I can spend my money on. My philosophy is: if the roof is not leaking, A/C is blowing cold air, and there is food in the fridge, we are going on a trip. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Over the last year, my husband lost two relatives, both of them young. Making it to a retirement age, unfortunately, is not a guarantee. Another thing that’s not guaranteed is your health when you get there.
I really hope our trip goes as planned, but this is the end of faraway travel for my father-in-law, and he knows it. But at least we will always have the memories…
A few months ago, one of my readers has sent me a message and said I could publish it. This seemed like the perfect post for it:
“Recently I traveled to Barcelona with my mom, just the two of us. I got the tickets with miles and points, and she paid for the hotel and meals. Sadly, even though I knew that my mom had chronic pain due to her arthritis, the reality of her shape hit me hard during this trip.
She literally gets excruciating pain after she walks for two blocks, so you can imagine how hard traveling anywhere, let alone a walkable city such as Barcelona can be. The last two days of our trip, I stopped by a pharmacy and asked if they knew where I could rent a wheelchair. They pointed me to another pharmacy two blocks away where I could rent one for only 10 Euros per day.
Even though my mom had a hard time getting used to the idea of being pushed around in a wheelchair (tears included), I was able to convince her. It was awesome because she could finally see what Barcelona was all about.
But it was bittersweet. It really made me think how we have to find a balance between the ant and the grasshopper. You know that fable? The ant works hard all year so that she can have food for the winter, the grasshopper jumps around and has fun.
When you are young like me, it’s easy to forget that one day we may not be able to move around as easily. That’s why whenever I have the chance and I’m not putting my family’s financial well-being at risk, I jump at the opportunity to travel.”
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.