My mom’s middle name is Marie. So is mine. So is my daughter’s. While we’re all very different, our middle name links our three generations.
When my mom was growing up, her parents claimed her middle name was actually “Go.” For most of her life, she was always ready to pack her bags for a trip, anytime, anywhere.
Although she was born in 1915, and her early trips didn’t take her far from the dairy farm in East Tennessee where she was born, she always longed to go. Books offered her the first adventures in travel, and she devoured each and every “dime novel” her dad would bring her from his Saturday trips to town.
On her first plane trip, a flight to Chicago, her girlfriend and travel companion boasted about never getting motion sickness. Mother thought she probably would get sick, but didn’t let that slow her down. Once aloft, her friend quickly turned green. Mother enjoyed every minute of the flight.
During World War II, Mother and her best friend, Blanche Young, saved their money for a trip to New York City. On her first big adventure, she and Blanche were in constant motion, trying to see all the sights from the Battery to the Bronx, never slowing down for a moment. On the Staten Island Ferry, they stood as close to the bow as possible so they wouldn’t miss anything on their trip around Manhattan Island. When the ferry hit a wave and water splashed over the bow, Mother’s dress was drenched. As it dried, the skirt started getting shorter and shorter. Soon, her fashionable dress had shrunk to well above her knees — far above acceptable lengths and short enough to be almost scandalous.
When Blanche suggested they return to the hotel so Mother could change, Mother refused. She was much more interested in seeing Manhattan than worrying about showing her knees.
Her spirit of adventure and passion to see new sites and explore new places served her well through the years. She and my dad traveled all over the United States and went to Europe at least a dozen times. One summer they flew all the way around the world with stops in Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Italy, and England. Until age slowed her down in her mid-80s, she was ready to depart on a dime. She never tired of packing her bag for parts unknown.
Both my daughter and I inherited her middle name of Marie as well as her adopted middle name of “Go.” We share her love for travel and her passion for seeing new places and meeting new people.
Now, however, I’m a little slower to charge off long distances, enjoying quieter, closer retreats that involve more relaxation than tourism. But my bags are within reach, and I can be packed to go within hours of a travel opportunity.
It’s just the homecomings that I find sad.
Unpacking, without that adrenaline rush of getting ready for an adventure, puts a damper on the trip. The bigger and more exciting the trip, the more difficult it is to return home. Dirty clothes, unread newspapers, stacks of junk mail and an empty refrigerator, all contribute to a less-than-joyous homecoming.
Sometimes, coming home seems so bleak that I wonder why I went to all the trouble of taking the trip in the first place.
But then I think of my legacy. With “go” as part of my inherited middle name, “went” comes with the territory.
And knowing that I’ve been there — wherever there may be — is well worth a Sunday night of dirty laundry.