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The Ultimate Family Vacation

The Ultimate Family Vacation

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My husband and I are taking my mother on a trip to Wilmington, N.C., next week. She always loved the ocean, and at this time of year, when the winter winds are so cruel, a Southern vacation will be welcome.

After that, I am thinking of bringing her to Sedona, Ariz., in the spring, when I meet up with my younger sister. Spring is supposed to be a great time of year to visit the Southwest, and mom would enjoy being there with two of her four daughters.

Maybe I’ll take her to Georgia in the summer, to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains there and to see her grandson in Atlanta. Oh yes, and I can’t forget a weekend trip to see her granddaughter in Washington, D.C.

Mom has always loved to travel with us. From a Caribbean cruise to the Rocky Mountains to multiple trips to California and Disneyland, the matriarch of our family was always game for adventure.

There’s just one minor detail that needs mentioning: My mother is dead. She has been dead for more than three years. But that won’t stop me from bringing her! I plan on taking my mother’s cremated remains on all our forthcoming family excursions, just as we did in the past.

Since her death, she has been patiently waiting in her urn in my kitchen. I’ve taken great comfort in having her near me, and I’ve been content to leave her there, in sight and close by. But my mother has been on my mind more frequently these past few months. Maybe it’s because my own children have recently flown the nest, and I’ve become more mindful of what it means to watch the action of their lives from the sidelines.

And then it hit me — Mom doesn’t want to watch from the sidelines! So why should something like death stop us from taking her on our trips again?

This time, though, we won’t be bringing her home. We will release some of her remains everywhere we go, especially to sights she has never been but would love if she had the chance.

At each destination, we will release just a small bit of her, remaining silent and keeping the moment sacred. Or maybe we’ll tell funny stories and break into raucous laughter as we recall the petite and feisty woman known to the world as Elvera Boswell.

At some point, I’m going to run out of her remains. And I have to ask myself if I’ll feel a sense of loss when that happens?

I’ve concluded that no — It’s going to be just fine. Because just as we can’t hold onto our children forever, we can’t hold onto our parents. We are all required by life to move to the next stage, whatever that means for each of us. My mother’s memory will beat strong in my heart, regardless of where her ashes are scattered.

My hope is that this is exactly what mom would want: for us to honor her and keep her close, but then to let her free to join the earth, from the mountains to the desert to the sea.

Time to get packing, mom! You’re going to love Wilmington!

Teri Merrill

Teri Merrill has been writing professionally since 1982. She has recently been writing for her town newspaper.

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