All my life, my Gram and I had talked about a trip we’d take to England when I was 16. Grammie was born and raised there and she wanted to show me where she grew up. We daydreamed about taking tea in castles and visiting great manors in the country. Gram was blind, so we couldn’t go until I was old enough to lead her around, and we decided that I’d be ready when I was 16 – that summer we’d have our trip.
My Gram died the summer I was 16. Even before she died, we knew that she wasn’t well enough to travel overseas. Had I been a few years older, we’d have been able to go, and I’ve always had a sense of being cheated out of something precious, however unreasonable that is. I had a hard time with her death, the person I told all my secrets to, and I find I still think about her very often.
I think that’s why when Auntie Vera was looking for someone to travel with five years ago, I jumped at the offer. It wasn’t a replacement for the trip to England, but another chance to travel with someone I love to somewhere they loved. Losing Auntie Vera has left me sad, but not bitter, because this time I got my special trip with her and I took every opportunity to spend time with her when I could. In some ways this makes this so much harder, because I’m far closer to her than I would have otherwise been, but it’s also far easier, because I have no regrets.
(At the funerals, Eric (her grandson) and I traded travel-with-Vera stories, he’s got some funny ones from their vacation in March. I’m glad he has these special memories too – and I know he took every chance to be with her – she was that kind of person.)
Everywhere we went in Ireland people kept saying that she was so lucky to have a niece to travel with, but they all had it wrong, I was the lucky one. How many of us get a chance to see the world with a grandparent (or an almost grandparent)? Auntie Vera gave me the chance to travel through the Ireland she knew, she gave me the chance to have these memories now that mean so much, and she taught me that we should look forward to what we can, and enjoy where we are.
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