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Travels with Patrick and Grandpa Al: An Intergenerational Journey Part 1

By Dian Brannen, 4:09 pm on

My father-in-law Al started talking about taking my son Patrick on a trip to Alaska when Patrick was around 10 years old. My heart would sink every time he would bring the subject up to me. All I could think about was, what would happen if Al (he was 68 at the time and in good health) would suddenly have a heart attack or a stroke while they were so far away? It made me sad to think of Patrick all alone having to deal with some sort of medical emergency with his grandfather. Or I would worry about Al not being able to navigate the trip with out my mother-in-law by his side to tell him what to do or where to go and when to do it (he hadn’t done much solo travelling in the recent years). For months, Al kept asking and asking!  I didn’t say yes and I didn’t say no I just kind of changed the subject every time it came up until Al finally stopped talking about it. Yes, I thought, I had dodged a bullet or awhile at least.

About a year ago the subject came up again.  Al wanted to take Patrick on a trip to Alaska.  This time Patrick was in on the conversation.  Patrick was now almost 12 and a very mature responsible boy who loves spending time with his grandfather and I knew he badly wanted to go.  The panicky feelings started resurfacing and one day I was telling my friend about the trip. She said to me, “Dian, you have to let him go! What a wonderful experience it will be to not only see Alaska but to spend time with his grandfather making memories he’ll carry with him for the rest of his life!  Knowing that she was right I began to think about how I wished I had gotten to know my grandparents and to have the relationship with them the way my children have with their grandparents. There is definitely a special relationship between a grandchild and grandparent.  How could I let my fears stand in the way of what may be one of the most awesome experiences for the both of them?

Reluctantly I made up my mind that I would let him go and I would do what I could on my end (working with a wonderful travel agent) to set up the trip trying to make it as seamless as possible for the two of them. She worked with me to set the itinerary and to make sure that at each stop there would be somebody making sure they got to where they needed to be (I had visions of them getting lost in the Alaskan wilderness and being mauled by a grizzly bear). The trip was to be a 2 week long land excursion and Alaskan cruise. On Wednesday, August 20th 2014 after much planning, packing and getting passports in order,  Patrick and Grandpa Al left Newark Airport on the route to Alaska and an amazing adventure for a boy and his grandfather……  Stay tuned for Part 2 of Travels with Patrick and Grandpa Al: An Intergenerational Journey!!!

What have you learned from someone of another generation?

Photo of Patrick and Grandpa Al August 20, 2014 @ Newark International Airport getting ready to depart on the adventure of a lifetime!