So often we find ourselves putting things off for a better time. We wait to do all the wonderful things we’d love to do because we’re focused on all the things we have to do. “I can’t go on vacation because I have X-Y-Z to pay for…” “I’ll wait to do family photos until I lose the Chipotle weight I’ve put on this year.” You get the idea (that barbacoa is worth it though right?!) Most of us tend to deprive ourselves of experiences in lieu of more practical or less emotionally-taxing things. Thankfully, some of us have people in our lives to push us to step outside our comfortable space and seize the moments we have now. Let’s face it, we can’t predict tomorrow, so it is beyond important to make the most of today.
Without getting too in depth, my mom has many health issues that have been going on most of my life. She is very sick most of the time, but somehow she manages to push through the worst of days and work circles around the rest of us. She’s cared for many family members and friends in their time of need, three of them into their final days. No one I know gives more of herself than this woman. I can only hope to make a fraction of the impact that she has made in others' lives. She doesn’t think of herself as anything special, but anyone that knows her and has experienced her selflessness would agree with me. She’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to give her an experience she would never forget and take her to a place she’s never dreamed she’d ever get to go.
This year for my birthday my husband pushed me to do just that. When my husband gave this gift, insisting she be my travel companion, I came up with several reasons why it wouldn’t work and my Mom came up with several more. My husband would have none of it. We were going, and that was final. “Pick a place or I’ll pick it for you”.
It didn’t take much to chose our destination; we’ve both always had a special pull to Scotland. So, my mom and I planned and planned. Then, we went. For 12 days. And it was BREATHTAKING.
For the record, my mom is not a fan of photos of herself. As she gets older she’s even more reluctant to see herself on camera. I guess most women are the same way, but that’s something she knew she’d have to get over. Her daughter and travel companion being a photographer, she was really in for it. I got quite a few dirty “Again? With the camera?” looks along the way, but I was able to capture some images of my mom enjoying herself and even some of her firsts, like her first train ride!
Watching my mom experience a magical place and capturing it with my camera gave me a gift I could never replace. These moments, the ones we deny ourselves so often, are not to be measured by things we should have done instead, but rather by the memories we captured. I’m choosing to measure the worth of my memories by the feeling we got while laughing so hard our ribs hurt and of our cheeks being sore from smiling so much. We won’t look back on the photos and wish we’d curled our hair that day, reapplied lipstick or lost 10 more pounds before we went.
I could write for days about all of the incomparable places we saw, the food we ate and the people we met. Really, it was so wonderful that she and I both decided we want to move there immediately and never look back (with my kids and both our husbands, of course.) I could tell you all about the friends we made, the funny things we witnessed, the travel mishaps (near death one for her, embarrassing/mortifying one for me), and the beautiful weather we had. Those things really made our adventure wonderful, but what I really want to share with you, what I really took away from the entire thing, is that life is short. Don’t wait to make your dreams a reality. Don’t wait to create your memories. The opportunities may pass you by.
A week after we got home, one of my mom’s health conditions worsened. She’s now using a walker to get around. Had we waited, we may not have had the adventure of a lifetime. I can’t ever replace the memories we made together. The photos I have will always take me back to those moments. They will transport me to the places, smells and feelings of the precious time I shared with the phenomenal woman I call Mom. As cliché as it may be, what I got from all of this was to seize the day. Now is always a good time to make beautiful memories.