In January of this year my mother perused Explorations in Travel's brochure of vacations for women over 40 and told me that she'd like to go on the multi-generational windjammer weekend. I'm not a sailor and I get seasick. I asked my sister if she'd like to go with our mom instead; no, she gets seasick. How about my niece a junior in college? Not a chance, she gets seasick. Apparently this affliction is one we've inherited from our father's side of the family since mom seemed not be concerned. I was about to discover what else I had inherited from my mother.
Last autumn, while I was leading a canoe trip in the Adirondacks of New York State, a ranger appeared on shore. My mother had been admitted into the hospital for heart surgery. I managed to get the one flight out that day and arrived at the hospital in Boston with my paddle and life jacket in hand. Despite the need for surgery, mom was in relatively good health at 75 and has recovered well. But who knew when, or if, weв„–d ever have the opportunity to spend a weekend together with other mothers and daughters enjoying the the last days of summer in the calm waters of Maine's Casco Bay.
My initial apprehension of going on a vacation with my mom was not only the fear of a queasy stomach. I've led multi-generational trips before. Some mothers and daughters arrive holding hands, comfortable and happy with each other's company. On the other hand when we boarded the boat for our sailing weekend one mother informed me that she and her daughter get along great....for 3 hours. While there are mothers and daughters who are best friends, there are others for whom the battle scars of teenage rebellion are not so well healed. The relationship between my mother and I fell somewhere in between.
There's some sort of magic that happens when a group of women get together. During our sailing weekend we painted each others toenails, marveled at graceful porpoises and big-eyed seals, played games, hoisted sails and exchanged addresses. Family stories were told. One mother still catches grief for putting toothpaste on her 3 year old daughterв„–s diaper rash by mistake in the dark thirty years ago. My mother, the eldest of the group, gave out gardening advice, made people laugh, and was content with every aspect of our voyage. At night she and I took turns standing in our small cabin while we dressed for bed, the flashlight strategically placed where we both could find it for midnight visits to the Ohead.
I always knew that I got my olive skin and broad shoulders from her but on this trip I discovered where my ease with people and sense of humor came from. I was grateful that we'd all been able to have the weekend together and was proud to think that in many ways I was Ojust like my mother. I never did get seasick and the mother and daughter team with the 3 hour limit managed 2 nights together in their small sleeping berth, in fact, I even heard them giggling at night.