ou would say my dad and I are an
unlikely father-daughter combination -- especially if you knew the
first thing he ever said to me about international travel.
When I was about 10 or 11, I told him that I would like to visit
France some day.
His response? "Why would you want to do that? You never lost
anything over there."
Which just shows there are times when parents have to be
It is not as if we knew nothing of travel in our family -- even
if it was all domestic and undertaken in the Plymouth. We drove all
over the South and parts of the West, visiting family and
Years later, after my mother died, my father visited me in New
York. About a year after that, I asked him to visit again, to which
he said, "I've already been there."
I guess he knew I would come to him.
But after he was widowed, Dad did travel alone on motorcoach
tours operated by AAA.
He never considered any other travel company. I once sent him
some brochures from other tour firms that also offered domestic
coach trips, but I guess it was trust in a household name that kept
him with AAA.
Finally, Dad was faced with the option to travel overseas, to
places where he, too, had never lost anything.
This was after my mother died, and my father was about to
remarry. His bride-to-be had laid on plans with her extended family
to spend a few weeks in Germany with a grandson who was stationed
there in the service.
She told my dad: "You are invited to come along if you want. If
you don't want to go, I am going anyway" ... or words to that
And he had a great time, although aside from getting a narrated
viewing of the photos, I did not hear too much about details from
my taciturn father.
However, he and my stepmother always kept in their living room a
tangible reminder of that trip, a cuckoo clock. It still is the
main timekeeper there, but it is a little, well, cuckoo because
while it chimes at the hour with, say, three chimes for 3 o'clock,
four chimes at 4, etc., it chimes only once at 10.
Now, my father is terminally ill and no longer sitting under the
This column is a kind of eulogy for him, but not quite. For one
thing, in this context, I looked at his life based only on his
travel experiences and attitudes. That's a narrow focus.
And it seems fair that Dad should know what I would write about
him for my colleagues to read. So I wrote this column sooner rather
than later -- now he can see it.
Nadine Godwin is the editor in chief of Travel