Why I travel … part 1 (Ellen)
I’ve always loved to travel.
From the time I was a little girl, my parents were on the move. Being antique dealers by trade (my father was also an accountant because they had to pay the bills), they were always looking for that next shop, the next show, the next deal. Every year, when I would finish school, we’d take off the very next day for our annual antiques buying trip cum vacation. Then we’d take the fruits of our labor and sell them at the Wee Cottage Antiques, located – and yes, I know how fortunate I was! – in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
A traveling vacation and a long, lazy summer at the beach! Every year. It’s no wonder I learned to love the not-home lifestyle.
Like any couple, Pete and I traveled here and there, mostly quick trips to the beach (me) or the obligatory Disney trips with our sons. We had lots of fun taking them to Disney World, to other East Coast areas such as Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and even occasionally to Rehoboth. Like many, most of our trips were to visit family who lived far away, but not really far enough to make it a real vacation.
Our foray into real travel – and by this I mean more than one week, and often far away travel – really came as our 20th anniversary came, back in 1998. We heard about the new Disney cruise ship, the Disney Magic, and we really, REALLY wanted to try it out. Since our sons were 10 and 15 and had an obliging aunt to stay with them for a long period of time, we went off to one of the inaugural voyages on the Magic. It was … Magic. (Forgive the pun, but it was just so right.)
Even though we didn’t cruise again for about eight years, it set the stage for that part of our traveling lives.
Not too long after that, Pete’s education took us to England, a place we still love. Then we went back there with one of our sons, and eventually went on another cruise, too. Once we had an empty nest, in 2007, we started to travel in earnest, visiting a number of European, Middle Eastern and African sites and racking up cruise days.
It came to a screeching halt in 2014.
We had just gotten off our very first transatlantic cruise, when, on December 7, Pete got sick. It was not a normal kind of sick. Eventually, he was told he had to have his gall bladder removed, which it shortly was. What happened after that was disastrous, to our lives, our complacency and our travel schedule.
Pete nearly died. In fact, we’ve been told 60% of people who have necrotizing pancreatitis like he did, do die. On December 23 he was rushed to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, a premier teaching hospital here in central Pennsylvania, and effectively stayed there until Easter. Many of those days/weeks/months were terrifying, for both of us. Although I spent most days with him, this man in the bed was not really my healthy, vigorous, traveling-companion husband. He was a shell of what he had previously been.
After he was finally allowed to come home, it was a long, LONG road to get him well again. He returned to work part-time after nine months, and full time after about a year, but it was almost two years after that bad time that he felt he could risk a “real” vacation. That was a long time.
I never thought we were going to be able to travel again. All those months of sickness, of fear, of “traveling” to and fro to Hershey, of thinking he would never get well … I need to redeem them.
I’m determined to live this life to the full, regardless of what that takes. I’m not wasting any more time. None of us knows what is right around the corner, and were our lives will be next week, or even the next hour. I’ll be darned if I’m missing a minute of it!