We would have all heard the saying ‘age is just a number’ and that it is. I have recently returned from my brother’s wedding, which took place in Cartagena, Colombia. For my family this meant flying across the globe from Sydney to America and on to Colombia. We were all excited to make the journey to South America, especially my 84 year old grandmother who had not been overseas for over 55 years.
We all were early to book our flights for the wedding; however, my eldest brother and his wife took the time to map out an itinerary that would be a trip of a lifetime for our grandma. Possibly the last big trip she would be able to make in her life. Now for many people of our era, we are in search of a thrill seeking adventure, which allows us to tick off boxes on our never-ending bucket lists. My grandma, on the other hand, from a young age loved nothing more than Walt Disney and her childhood was engulfed in the idea of fantasy, toys and cartoons. Her love for childhood stories and fictional tales provided us with such an awesome upbringing and I, like my brothers, loved the days we were able to spend watching the old VCR cassette programs. Now as a young child, we all had our favorite characters, and my grandma, to this day, has always had a love for Goofy. So needless to say my brother made sure after flying the 14 hours from Sydney to Los Angeles they would spend a day at Disneyland, where she would be able to finally tick this one off her bucket list.
Her travels were documented with photos and updates on how she was enjoying this adventure, and it was amazing to see such a big smile on her face. Like a child in a candy store, this was something she had always wanted to do, but never found the time to do so. I was amazed she had found the confidence and courage to step out of the norm she had been apart of for such a long period of time and do something for herself. Her first day in Los Angeles was spent relaxing and venturing out on the Stars Tour where she was able to see the houses of her favorite movies stars old and new. Now one thing I can tell you from a young age I remember my grandma going on and on about Frank Sinatra and hearing his voice being played from the little tape player in her kitchen.
The following day I awoke with a message from my brother saying ‘Off to Disneyland today!’ and was eager to see the photos to come. Later that day, I received photos of her meeting her childhood favorite Goofy and was later told she was so nervous before meeting him that she was shaking, and when she finally could give him a hug she burst into tears. I don’t know if you see this like I do, but it’s somewhat touching seeing an 84 year old meeting her childhood favorite cartoon character.
After Los Angeles they were onto Miami for one night then over to Cartagena, Colombia where we would all meet and have 5 nights stay over the wedding period. Once we arrived I was glad to see the smile still on my grandmas face and she was eager to show me how awesome her room was in the hotel in true spirit. Now everything isn’t always perfect with my grandma as I see with age comes wisdom and further complaints, but I knew she was having an amazing time seeing something in real life rather than on a television screen.
The day and night of the wedding she really took hold of the occasion and was involved in all the dancing to the wee hours of the morning before calling it a night. She danced away the night during ‘crazy hour’ and indulged in the exquisite food and drinks with minimal complaints. There is no greater feeling than busting a move on the dance floor with your grandma aged 84 dressed up in crazy clothing and blowing a whistle. This is something I will never forget!
After the wedding it was my time to shine, as I was to bring my grandma back to Sydney from Colombia. I made sure to break up the long journey so she could rest. We flew from Cartagena, Colombia where she was interrogated at the airport for drug smuggling and somehow managed to sneak onboard her nail clippers. Once arriving in Fort Lauderdale, my significant other and her family greeted us and we would spend one night at their lovely home before heading onto Los Angeles.
The following morning we boarded our flight from Miami to Los Angeles where we would have an extended layover of 10 hours so she could catch her breathe. When checking in it was awesome to see my family had decided to upgrade her flights to first class to make sure she had a comfortable and relaxing concluding leg to the trip. This also would allow us into the Qantas First Class Lounge in LAX Airport. Once arriving in LAX we promptly checked into the lounge which was spectacular with free food and beverages, showering facilities and cozy couches where my grandma could have her afternoon naps which I witnessed her sleep talking at the top of her voice!
After filling up on French champagne, a couple whiskeys and awesome food we were off to stretch our legs and board our final flight home to Sydney. Luck was on our side as we were to board the brand new Qantas A380-800 which is extremely comfortable in any class. Once arriving back into Sydney I could see the travel for my grandma had placed a little bit of wear and tear on her however she is a touch cookie and had pushed through with a smile from ear to ear accompanied by a couple complaints along the way. But she made it.
After dropping her home and taking some time to sit back and relax I began to reflect on the journey she had just completed and I felt extremely proud of what she had achieved. This has motivated me to do more. She is an inspiration for me to travel, to pick up what is the known and venture out into the unknown and discover. Like she said to me several times on the journey home ‘I am in your hands now’ as if I was to be the responsible one. She looked after me as a young child whilst my parents were at work and I was now repaying that favor to her. This experience has taught me many valuable lessons and to have experienced something like this with her really humbled me.
I wanted to share this story to let people know exactly this age is just a number. We aren’t getting younger, things aren’t getting cheaper, simply saying ‘one day’ isn’t enough. You need to make your dreams a reality otherwise you will always have that thought in the back of your mind saying maybe I should have done that. You can do it, all you need to do is get up off your bum and take that risk and create a memory that will last forever. If my 84-year-old grandma can do it, you sure can too.