Not too comfortable
After she was widowed, our mother had a modest two-bedroom log home built at our summer place. The original building that was on the site had been damaged when a wild fire swept over the property. It hadn’t been much of a structure in the first place, a building thrown up as an office for a motor court sometime before the second world war. I often consulted with our mother in those days, giving her a bit of feedback and providing a second opinion. She always had her own ideas and she was a good manager and our father had left her with his affairs in order, so she didn’t really need my advice. At any rate, I was allowed to go over the plans for the cabin with her and look at the documents for the county planning commission, etc. I suggested that she budget for some new furniture for the building when it was finished. She didn’t think the expense was necessary. “There’s a lot of furniture around the place already,” she responded. I said, “At least get a new bed for yourself.” Her response to that was quick: “I don’t want the bed to be so comfortable that I won’t want to travel.”
It is an interesting idea. Apparently she had know a relative or friend who didn’t like to travel as much as her and used the fact that one sometimes gets a lumpy bed when staying in a hotel as an excuse. Whatever the status of furniture, our mother never lost her love of travel and adventure. After she had come to live with us in the last few years of her life she would still dream of trips she’d like to take. There were some pretty wonderful trips that she did get to take.
After our father’s death she did a lot of bicycle travel, taking tours with the American Cycling Federation and other groups. She didn’t have any trouble keeping up with a cycle group that was averaging 50 miles per day. She was a member of the first cycle tour from the United States to tour China that was allowed to bring in bicycles from the outside. Previous groups had been forced to tour on Chinese-made bicycles. Her group brought their touring bikes and found lots of admirers among the Chinese people who were fascinated with the skinny tires and 18-speed transmissions. At that point, our mom, who was quite short, was riding a bicycle that had been made in Japan, so it wasn’t even a product of the United States.
There were plenty of other tours. She went to the USSR with a Friendship Force tour group. She went on a couple of cruises with a friend, going to Alaska and traveling through the Panama Canal. She traveled to Germany for a church music festival and played her trumpet at a brass music event on that trip.
She didn’t seem to get overly attached to any one bed.
Our mother earned her private pilot’s license before I was born and was always up for a ride in an airplane. She flew in light aircraft, helicopters, antique aircraft, homebuilt aircraft and a hot air balloon. One year she was vacationing with our family on her birthday and I was able to purchase a ride in a sailplane for her. It was her first ride in an airplane towed by another plane and she loved it.
One of the jokes we shared near the end of her life was sparked by her saying, out of the blue one day, “I’d like to ride on a camel. I’ve never ridden on a camel.” Maybe she hadn’t. I got a ride on a camel at a tourist place in Central Australia in 2006 and it was my first such ride. She did, however, ride an elephant during a bike trip to Sri Lanka. I’ve got a couple of pictures of her riding the elephant with her bike helmet on her head.
I’ve been very fortunate to have inherited my parents’ love of travel and sense of adventure. Our children grew up making jokes about my tendency to find “the long cut.” Instead of finding a short cut, I’d take a road we’d never traveled and end up somewhere we’d never gone and the process usually took significantly more time than the direct route. I get a kick out of our grandson who always has to have one or more books with him whenever we go anywhere in the car, no matter how short the trip. He recently told me that having a book along is important because you never know how long the trip will be when his dad is driving. The love of adventure and exploring has been passed down from my parents to my son.
Of course the drawback to that love of adventure is that our two children aren’t living on the same continent. Our daughter and her husband will be moving from Japan soon, but one of their criteria for this move was that the new location not be a place where either of them had lived before. Something tells me that her son will grow up with a sense of adventure as well.
The next nine months will be a time of transition for us as we look for a home to purchase while living in a rental. We’re not sure exactly which neighborhood or what features we’d like to find. We want to make sure we have room for guests to visit, and we like having a bit of room to work on various projects and hobbies, but we don’t need much. And we have no intention of going shopping for new furniture. We’ve got lots of furniture, most of it inherited from various relatives over the years.
One thing of which I’m certain is that we don’t need a new bed. Although our bled is very comfortable, I don’t want to get a bed that is so comfortable that I won’t want to travel.