I have always loved to travel, and have been fortunate to have visited many wonderful exciting and often exotic locations. Roz and I have done multiple trips to Europe, a memorable safari in east and South Africa, and traveled to most parts of the US and Canada. I have traveled to the Far East on business, and we have vacationed in Hawaii, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and many trips to the Outer Banks.
On those visits we have seen exotic and culturally rich sites, met interesting and generous people, eaten a variety of strange and wonderful food, and walked many miles with eyes and ears wide open.
I write this on a British Airways 747 returning home from 10 days in London and Paris – two of our favorite places. But this trip was different in so many ways.
I guess we both understood that this would likely be the final long trip we take together. My mobility, speech and eating weakness have made the joy of traveling more difficult and elusive than on previous trips. I do not have the energy I once had. I can no longer walk for hours on end. I cannot eat the local cuisine, or taste the wines, but must carry my own nutrition and feed myself though my button much of the time. Sampling crepes and cheeses and ice cream in Paris was especially daunting. Fish and chips, bangers and mash, and other British delicacies are things of the past for me.
But this was a great trip and I am glad we made the effort. Spending 10 days with the love of my life is such a great gift. Roz is not only my soulmate – she is now my interpreter, tour guide, porter, and sentry. But I can see that having to tend to me has been hard on her and made her enjoyment more problematic.
It was also a great trip because we were able to connect with old and new friends. These relationships are as nourishing for me as a six-pack of Ensure. We did visit some sights that had been on my to do list for a long time – Hampton Court, Greenwich and Giverny especially.
When we were in need, so many helpful people stepped in to assist – at Eurostar, at the US Embassy in Paris, at British Air.
So it will be closer to home for me now. There will be two great weeks at the beach with the whole family and my vita mix. I wonder if I can make lobster bisque in it? There is all the work to do as Board Chair of CORNERSTONES – the renamed Reston Interfaith. There are so many friendships to nurture and so many people to spend time with. And these will all be easier on home turf.
Life will go on. I will devise new strategies to deal with my growing weaknesses. I will continue to learn new things about myself as I cope with my disease. I will hopefully be able to share what I am learning and be of service. I will try not to despair, but will work hard to stay accepting and as positive as I can be. This is not much fun, but I am still capable of laughter – and of bad puns even if others have difficulty understanding my words.
So stand by friends. There is still life in me, and I intend to be a force to be reckoned with.