Well, no, of course not. A lot of people have trauma around their upbringing, or were raised by a dad or two dads or grandparents, or were never lucky (or unlucky, I suppose) enough to know their mother. But everybody who's as lucky as me, to have been raised by my parents of birth in a loving and supportive household, thinks they have the best Mom and Dad. They're wrong, though, because I do.
When I was fifteen and 50/52nds, (got that?) my parents, younger brother and I moved away from Maine, from all four of my grandparents AND my older brother, who elected to stay behind with family and finish high school there. We left the house I grew up in that my great- great-grandfather built, the schools my parents had graduated from that I was attending with mostly the same kids I'd met in kindergarten. The four of us lived in Key Largo, Florida for two and a half years after that, ending (for me) when I left for college in fall of 2000 - and that was the last time I lived within driving distance of my parents for twelve years. From 2012 until this summer, we lived 30 minutes away, and it was an odd week if I didn't see them at least once. So I knew from my teenage years how hard it would be to move my kids away from their grandparents, and I knew from experience how hard it would be on me, no longer having their daily support after five years of relying on it. To say nothing of how cruel it was to take their oldest grandchildren away from Mom and Dad after so many years of filling their house with mischief and giggles!
And yet, because I have the best parents, they were 100% supportive of this adventure for our family, running errands and watching the kids while we prepared to move, storing precious things that we didn't trust with the moving company, and in my mom's case, talking me through more than one embarrassing emotional meltdown when it all got to be too much. They are saints. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Mom found an impossibly good deal on flights to Paris before we had even arrived ourselves, and the excitement with which we all counted down to their arrival! Sunday, October 15 we loaded up the car and drove 5 hours to Paris, more or less copying the route I'd taken to Costco the weekend before.
A car ride that long with two small kids is always a challenge, and unfortunately Josh was still suffering form the allergies that had attacked just a couple days before. Still, it was an uneventful ride and we checked in to our superhero Airbnb in the first arrondissement before dinner, after an exciting moment trying to park in the garage - turns out our little Citroen C4 can't really reverse up a ramp, in case you were wondering. Then we had Thai food out - I know, it's not exactly classic Parisian fare, but big city = better foreign food! - and went to bed early.
|Also, big city means the food might actually have some heat!|
|Cheers from the airport in Atlanta!|
Well, until this happened.
After lunch we walked to Les Invalides to see the beautiful gold dome and walk off some of our lunch. On the way we passed two WWII memorials, one with dried flowers hanging beneath.
|This one breaks my heart - it's so personal.|
"In memory of Pierre LASSALLA, Corporal of the LECLERC division
Fell August 25, 1944 for the liberation of Paris, at the age of 21."
These memorials are everywhere in France, and it really drives home the horrible personal losses WWII delivered to Europe. Our American experience of the war was of sending our sons and daughters overseas, not knowing if they were dead or alive, believing in the cause. Imagine what it was like seeing your homes and churches and schools occupied by the enemy, not knowing who around you was in the resistance or reporting back to the enemy. People being enslaved or disappeared every day, food is scarce, peril is everywhere - and still your sons and daughters are gone and fighting. The rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and worldwide right now is especially frightening to me as I'm reminded of the horrors wrought by Nazism in Europe. One thing they do very well here - they never let you forget.
But we were on vacation, so I tried not to dwell on it! The kids got tired of the Paris walking fairly fast, but luckily Josh and Pappy were willing pack mules. Even for the nearly-70 pound six year old!