When I was a little girl, my sisters and I dreamed of going to Disneyland. I had vague memories of being taken there as a toddler. But not when I was old enough to appreciate the magic of it all.
We lived in Marysville, which is about 500 miles north of Disneyland. When my family planned summer vacations, we begged for Disneyland. Every time, my father would say something like, "Your grandmother is getting pretty old. This may be our last chance to see her. We could go to Disneyland, but Disneyland will always be there and your grandmother won't. She may not be there next year." I think he was talking about both of our grandmothers. It made me think that they both had fatal diseases and that we would be very bad children if we did not want to see them one last time.
So every year that we took a vacation, it was a trip down Route 66 to Texas and Oklahoma to visit relatives. We always tried to convince Dad to take a detour to the Magic Kingdom. It was tantalizingly close on the map when we turned from Highway 99 onto Route 66. (I think that's the way we went, but I can't seem to find a map that shows this.) But he never did.
It was always in the middle of summer. The sweltering station wagon was stuffed with luggage and pillows and four little girls with their parents. Although seat belts were not standard equipment in those days, my mother had my father install them for us. We did have air conditioning, but it was only in the front seat. In the back seat, it was hot enough to make your head throb. We took turns sitting on the front bench seat between Mom and Dad. The younger two were understandably favored for this.
(Above, left to right, my older sister, an adult cousin, me, Momma. I have no idea where this was, but I love the architecture of roadside attractions like this.)
We visited Mother's relatives in El Paso and Dallas, Texas, which was like a sauna in the summer. Then we moved on to Oklahoma, home of my dad's family. I had never been where it rained in the summer. Oklahoma has numerous cousins whom I could not keep straight, living in a small community where each of them knew everyone else in town.
Later, as an adult, I admired my sainted father's patience. I cannot imagine driving a car full of hot, cranky, complaining girls who always need to go to the bathroom (or a cold drink or something to eat or Mickey Mouse) halfway across the country.
Right after I married my first husband, my parents took my two younger sisters on vacation to Hawaii. I was jealous. But today I don't blame them. I was twenty and had a pretty bad attitude in those days.
Meanwhile, both of my grandmothers lived well into their nineties. I was in my thirties when they passed away.
Today, my husband and I take care of my mother. We can't leave her alone to go out to dinner, much less take a vacation. We haven't had a honeymoon yet. I don't like the idea that we have to wait for someone to pass away before I can go to Disneyland. I don't think I could enjoy it that way.