Today, our sons, Matthew, Michael and Joseph; our daughter, Julia; our daughter-in-law, Erika and Michael’s girlfriend, Jacque will be leaving on a two week trip to Japan and Vietnam.  We are in San Francisco to see them off.  About one year ago, Matthew and Erika and Michael and Jacque began talking about taking this trip.  The details of how it was planned and how Joseph and Julia ended up joining them are unimportant for the purpose of this post.  

As parents, you nurture and help mold your children into the adults they will become.   We all wish to create independent, knowledgeable and worldly adults with the goal that they stand on their own two feet and go off to make a life for themselves.  Then we all wish our children the success and happiness that comes with that independence.  At some point, you know they are going to leave the nest, but when they are gone, it makes you realize just how fast time passed and that your wish for them is being fulfilled.

Once upon a time, while on a family trip to Disney World, we were all sitting in the French pavilion in Epcot Center when Joe and I suddenly realized that time was passing quickly and before we knew it, Matthew and Michael would finish High School and move on to college.  It was 1996.  By then we had taken a family vacation each year to the beach in New Jersey; we had been to Washington DC, Boston and Florida, but not much beyond that.  At that moment a plan was hatched to start looking into traveling to other places so we could expand their horizons.  Our first thought was Italy, since we had been there for our honeymoon and it is the home of our ancestors.  Our second thought was London because we knew that everyone would speak English.

However, while my good friend was visiting from Las Vegas and we were telling her of our plan, she suggested we test our travel abilities by seeing more of the US.  Of course, she suggested we start with Las Vegas and maybe California.  Suffice it to say, our maiden flight in 1997 with all six of us, included stops in Las Vegas, California and the Grand Canyon.   The next summer was England, Scotland and France and the following summer was Italy.  Many other trips abroad followed as well as study abroad programs for some of them.  Since then, each of our children has traveled to many other places on their own and with friends.  I mention this because all the while we were nurturing and teaching our family about travel and other cultures, we also gave them their wings!

More than once during the planning phases of this trip to Japan they asked us to join them.  As much as we would like to see Japan, we felt strongly that this is their trip.  Although we feel a little nervous as they all take off together to a far flung corner of the world, we are so happy to see them make this trip together.

In a broader sense, besides the traveling our children do, they have all found their way in the world or at least are on their way.  We could lament and even get a little teary-eyed that our children have left the nest, moved away to other cities and forged relationships that bring them into the fold of other families all of which keep them away from us for much of the time.  Instead, I am instilled with pride and feel gratified that we have succeeded in nurturing these four little “birds” into loving, caring and independent adults who always know where they can find their original nest.

Jacque, Michael, Julia, Joseph, Erika and Matthew

Jacque, Michael, Julia, Joseph, Erika and Matthew

On Monday, Joe provides some tips for those taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease in “Alzheimer’s Disease, The Role Of The Care Giver”.