I was hoping to go somewhere really awesome this summer. Iceland was my first choice. For a while it looked like Iceland might be a possibility, but then it became apparent that due to financial constraints and academic obligations, it just wasn’t feasible.

My mother suggested a family vacation at a cabin in the woods somewhere in the midwest. at the end of September. In this case the family would include me, my mother, my grandfather, my mother’s three brothers-Uncle Jon, Uncle Jeff and Uncle Chris-and my aunt, Ana Claudia. It wouldn’t be the most exciting vacation, but we would all be together as a family, and that was the most important thing.

The problem would be convincing my grandfather to go. At this point in his life he is not very adventurous, and not very open to travel. When my mother asked him if he would like to go on a family vacation in a cabin in the woods, as predicted, he said no way, but my mom was not ready to give up. She decided to try to convince my uncles to go on the vacation, and then convince them to force my grandfather to come with them.

I don’t want you to think that my mother wanted my grandfather to be dragged in to the car kicking and screaming, or that she was advocating the use of restraints or handcuffs. My grandfather lives with my Uncle Jon and he lives not far from my Uncle Chris. He relies on them for transportation, food and companionship. My mother figured that if my  uncles told my grandfather they were off to a cabin in the woods for a week and then jumped in the car, my grandfather would have no choice but to jump in the car after them.

My mother talked the situation over with my uncles for a while, did some internet research, and then presented them with a few options for our vacation destination. Eventually they decided on a lakefront house in Wisconsin. The house was beautiful and spacious, as was the surrounding area. It allowed dogs, so my grandfather’s dog, Riley, and my Uncle Chris’s dog, Lola would be able to accompany us. My uncles agreed to go and to make my grandfather go. My mother made the reservations and the payment.

Meanwhile, visions of us all spending quality family time together danced in her head. She pictured us playing board games together, watching TV together, and chatting late in to the night. It would be a vacation and then a memory, that all of us, especially my grandfather, would treasure.

This vision sounded nice to me, but I was careful not to get too attached to it. I know that life, especially life in my family, often doesn’t work out as planned. My mother had had a similarly idyllic vision for our move to the house across the street from Uncle Chris a few years ago and that had been a total disaster. So much so, that we moved back a month later.  Furthermore, I did not think it was a good idea to plan a vacation that included my grandfather without his consent.

About a week before the appointed vacation time, my Uncle Jon announced that my grandfather really did not want to go to the cabin in Wisconsin and he was not going to force him (it was pretty clear that he himself didn’t really want to go either.) My mother tried to convince my grandfather to come, but her efforts were in vain. It was too late to get a refund on the reservations.

My mother lamented the situation she found herself in and questioned how her family could do this to her. I hated to say “I told you so” but…oh, who am I kidding, I enjoyed saying I told her so. “There’s no way you could have possibly foreseen this outcome”, I uttered sarcastically.

I, for one, was falling over in unsurprise at how things had turned out. In fact, I would have been more surprised if everyone had happily agreed to my mother’s vacation idea and kept their promises.

The beginning of the planned vacation coincided with my grandfather’s 92nd birthday. We wanted to spend time with him but we didn’t want to entirely lose out on our investment in the cabin in the woods. We decided that instead of immediately going to Wisconsin, we would go to Illinois first and spend a few days with my grandfather and family. Then she and I would drive to Wisconsin by ourselves.

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