This past April, my family and I gave my mother her trip of a lifetime – Rome, Italy.
My mom was a History and Latin teacher for over thirty years. She especially loved Roman history. Naturally, my childhood was filled with stories of emperors and battles, daily Roman life and culture, not to mention word origins … oh, was there a lot of word origin lessons! Circumference, natatorium, arboretum – She never missed an opportunity to showcase Latin’s current day influence on the English language. A couple of years ago, when she was up visiting at Christmas, I asked her, “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?” Without hesitation, she said “Rome!” All those years teaching others about Roman history and she had never experienced it for herself.
As children, we never really appreciate what our parents do for us. The lessons, the patience, the sacrifices, the early mornings, the late nights. Until you have children of your own, you won’t know what it’s like to be a parent. You can’t know. But when you walk in their shoes, you’ll understand. And when you understand, you will want to say “Thank You”. And we wanted to say thank you in a big way … what can I say, I wasn’t the easiest child to raise and neither were my brothers! Come to think of it, I think the size of the gift you give is directly proportionate to just how much of a pain in the ass you were to rear. Yeah, Rome was a BIG gift for mom and dad – LOL.
We spent 10 days in the Eternal City and did our best to live up to the old saying “When in Rome …” – Dining al fresco in the streets, freezing our brains on sublime gelato, enjoying home-made Italian style meals in our apartment (thanks to my brother Bill, the chef), wondering how on earth tomatoes can taste SO good, drinking way too much wine, people watching at the cafes while sipping capuccini, stuffing our faces with Roman-style pizza, and doing our best to support the local ‘selfie-stick’ economy. Rome is a special place. It has a unique blend of modernity and antiquity. One minute you are dodging scooters and mini-coopers, the other you are gazing up at a facade so old that it defies reason that it’s still standing. I couldn’t help but marvel at the architectural accomplishments of those Romans – The Pantheon, The Colosseum, The Forum. Jaw-dropping efficiency. And like an Italian meal, the courses just kept coming – one after another … Piazza Navona, Galleria Borghese, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Di Popolo, The Vatican and the dumbfounding beauty of the Sistine Chapel (which, by the way, is about the size of a postage stamp).
Every step of the way, mom and dad were grinning ear to ear. Giving them that gift is something I’ll never forget.
So, I’m curious, what’s the best gift you’ve given your parents?