Grand Canyon National Park. It’s been there since time memorial, but chances to visit the Park don’t always come easy. I look around at many of my friends and realize how lucky I am to still have a living parent; a healthy, active, unconstrained parent. Early in the visit, she mentioned a desire to come for a longer stay next time in order to see the Grand Canyon. “I’ve always wanted to see it.”
A couple of days later, we were driving to Tucson to see a former neighbor from back in Park Forest, Illinois, where I grew up. During the two hour drive, we were talking about others from the neighborhood. There was Mildred, who has serious hearing and memory challenges and is rehabbing from a broken femur. She may never live independently again, and she is younger than my mom. There’s Nan, who seems to be in early stages of Alzheimer. Another friend has a debilitating illness, a second is in early stages of dementia. My aunt is bedridden and may never be able to get out of bed again. Even our former neighbor has her issues. All of these women are anywhere from a couple of years to more than ten years younger than my mom. This doesn’t count the deaths among my mother’s friends.
After listening to this litany, I looked at my mom and said, “Can you handle a long day in the car?”
“Want to go see the Grand Canyon tomorrow?”
“Isn’t that a long day driving for you?”
“I can manage.”
And so, Friday morning we set off early towards the Grand Canyon (and a 25-degree drop in temperature from Scottsdale). I took her in through the east entrance, Desert View, and working our way towards Grand Canyon Village, we stopped at every other overlook. My mom was just thrilled with the views. Nature cooperated and gave us a couple of thunderstorms on the North Rim and a downpour while we were ensconced in a restaurant for lunch. The monsoon ended just as we finished lunch, and we drove back to the Valley of the Sun.
My mom got to see the Canyon, and I will never have the regret that “I wish I had taken mom to the Canyon when it was possible.”