My father died on Valentine’s day 2010 after a long battle with cancer. It was grueling on my mother, who not only lost her life partner and best friend, but she also had to care for many of his physical needs as his body failed towards the end.
I wasn’t sure how she was going to handle living life without him and also worried that his death took so much out of her that she wouldn’t be far behind. I was glad to see her take his death as an opportunity for rebirth for herself. He had left her enough financial assets and paid the house off years ago, so she no longer needed to work to meet her obligations. This allowed for her to expand into new horizons such as getting into Tai-Chi, meditation, volunteer work, and driving around with her Airstream trailer. For those who don’t know what that is, Google it and picture a 73-year-old woman pulling one behind a huge Dodge Durango.
The other new venture she got herself into was travel.
She had wanted to travel more with Dad but never got the chance as he worked right up until his body wouldn’t allow it anymore. She had seen much of the USA in her time but wanted to get overseas, specifically to Europe. Some relatives of ours had been going to Spain every year and invited her to join in 2011. These are older folks also, so they like the Guided Tour trips, the ones where a guide takes you to all the nice places on a fancy tour bus and makes sure to take you to all the gift shops and restaurants, which give a nice kickback to the guide. She loved the trip as she was in a large group of her peers. She felt safe and taken care of the whole time, and could predict the expense fairly well. After the trip to Spain she was hooked. She also liked the idea of traveling with at least one family member so she enrolled my sister to go next, on that trip to Italy. Then my cousin on a cruise down the Danube. Then my 15-year-old nephew back to Italy. (Lucky kid, right?)
Each year she would ask me if I wanted to go, and I always said, “Next year, Mom.” It was never the right time. One year my wife and I had our son, the next our business was in transition, the next we had a big vacation with my wife’s family, the next year, you get the picture. Each year I would look at the photos and hear the stories from her and the family members she had in tow, and wished that I could have been there.
I was getting sick of “someday” and decided that I was going in 2018 if the opportunity came up.
I own my own company. We are a real estate investment firm. I have been blessed over the last few years with a vibrant market and lots of opportunities. This year has been my busiest yet, both at home with two young kids and a growing company. On top of that, I was asked to write a book for a large publisher in my industry, which became a second job in itself, with a launch date of two days after my mother had in mind for her annual trip. All that said, when my mother made the call this past winter, I said “yes.”
This year the trip was to London, Scottland, and Ireland.
As I write this, I just got back, and I can tell you that although there was plenty waiting for me while I was gone, the world did not burn down. I had to send a few e-mails while away, but for the most part my phone remained off, only getting turned on for pictures. It was an epic trip, with so many memories, inside jokes, stories, drama (I didn’t realize that my 73-year-old mother snores like a lumberjack), and plenty of laughs.
Life is short, and most likely we don’t have as much time as we would like here on this earth. I never thought I would see the day that my father couldn’t take care of himself, and even though he fought for awhile the whole thing really happened suddenly. I know he would be proud of his wife for taking these ventures and of me for joining her this year. I do wish that he could have joined us for this, and we talked about him a lot. That said, I am very happy that she continues to play full out in her life and even happier that I got to enjoy a small piece of it with her.
The lesson I got from all of this is that time waits for no man.
It’s up to us, as men in control of our lives, to plant our flags and take a stand for the things in our life that really matter. Memories and legacy. Stories and traditions that can be passed down to younger generations. Yes, work and money are important, but too often we make them the most important. Money is only a tool with which to do good, create legacies, and make memories. I committed to set aside more time in my life to enjoy the fruits of my labor. If another one of these trips comes up and it’s my turn, I’m in.
I’m in to create more memories like this with my family and to inspire others to do the same.
About 5 years ago, my mom Marie Evy Faircloth started doing an annual multi week trip to Europe. She’s been to Greece, Italy twice, Spain, and a cruise down the Danube. She likes to go with a family member each year and I’ve always gotten the invite but in the past have been too busy with new babys or my business. This year was no different as I have a book coming out in 2 weeks, 2 young children, and a still growing company. But this time I said yes. Life is short.