A little over a year ago, my mom had a real scare in the hospital. She has been in the hospital on several occasions in the past few years, but the event that put her in last year was scary enough to really make us think about her mortality. One thing that came from it was a new urgency to fulfill some lifelong dreams, chief among them being a visit to Scotland to see the Highlands. She has dreamed of going there her entire life, but had never made it.
Being disabled and living on nothing but Social Security has left her with very little means, but I started doing what I could to try to make it happen. Fortunately, I work for a travel consortium and had some resources available to me. I went to Scott Ahlsmith, the President of 23 Touchpoints, and explained the situation. Scott immediately recommended a tour from Globus
and offered to speak to the owner (a long time friend) to see what he could do. It took a few months of back and forth, and eventually we decided on a 14 day tour of Scotland. Mom would be traveling with a group, with a tour guide and a motor coach to take her everywhere and with the hotel accommodations all arranged. In fact, about half of the meals for the trip were also included in the tour.
We chose a departure date of July 30th, and began planning for the trip. Over the course of 2010 mom finally was able to complete her cataract surgery and also have an eyelid lift to improve her vision dramatically so that she would be able to really appreciate seeing the Highlands. She got more exercise, got her diabetes under control, and just generally worked towards building up the stamina to be able to fully enjoy the tour. And of course, there was a wee bit of shopping involved - new clothes, a new jacket, and all of the other necessary odds and ends. The first half of 2010 rolled by, and by the middle of July mom was bursting at the seams just eager to go on the trip.
Except that over the course of the summer, she also started having severe abdominal pains for no apparent reason. Several trips to the doctor did nothing to alleviate the symptoms, and nine days before she was scheduled to leave for Scotland she wound up in the hospital where she underwent numerous tests including a complete endoscopy and colonoscopy. With her being so ill, we had no choice but to postpone the trip.
Fortunately, my co-workers Shari Heeringa and Dawn Gahr really stepped up to the plate and made the process of rescheduling the trip completely painless. There was paperwork to be done for the insurance claim (yes, she had trip insurance thank goodness!), but that could wait. With nothing but a few quick emails the trip was rescheduled to begin on September 3rd, the airfare was re-booked, and all my mom had to do was just feel better.
The current theory on her abdominal pain is Abdominal Angina, in which the blood flow to her digestive tract is impeded leading to a lack of oxygen to her digestive organs after eating a meal. She may yet need surgery to address the problem, but in the interim the doctors have helped her to alleviate the symptoms. By last week she was back to being just as eager as before to go on the trip.
Except then along came Hurricane Earl. As we looked at the storm projections, we saw the storm being perfectly positioned to disrupt her flight to Glasgow. Day after day, the track kept showing that the storm would be right off the coast and exactly in her flight path. We feared that she would be stranded in the Philadelphia airport, and perhaps be prevented from getting to Scotland in time for the start of her tour.
Fortunately, the storm turned out to not be as severe as we had feared. Yesterday she boarded the plane from Orlando to Philadelphia with no delays, and when she arrived she found that the flight to Glasgow was also still on schedule. She boarded her overseas flight, and early this morning she arrived in Scotland.
She was met at the airport by her tour operator and taken directly to the hotel where she could check in and get settled in. An old friend who happens to live in Scotland came to meet her, and helped her get a disposable cell phone and also helped her with getting money from the cash machine. She spend much of the day sightseeing, and tells me that Glasgow is lovely. In the evening she had a very nice dinner with her entire tour group, and she says everyone is very nice and she is having a great time.
At this point she is sound asleep, resting up for the first real day of the tour. Tomorrow she will see Alloway, Gretna Green, and Carlisle Castle. She truly is having the trip of a lifetime, and my family owes a huge debt of gratitude to the people from 23 Touchpoints, Virtuoso, and Globus Tours. It took a massive effort to get her there, and I hope the next two weeks truly are the best of her life to date.
I love you mom!