As a photographer, I usually load my posts up with photos. But this one is really about the story leading up to this moment…
I recently got to experience the trip of a lifetime with my mother. Literally – the trip of a lifetime.
I will start at the beginning…
Take a 50 year old woman who devoted her younger years to mothering two girls – my younger sister Tiffany and I, while my dad worked to support us. Take a woman who selflessly gave every ounce of her being and every second of her time to raise these two kids, with their ever-changing interests, ever-changing moods, and various decisions, both good and bad, with unwavering support. Take a woman who, after all those years, was able to earn 2 degrees as a straight A student, be a loyal and loving wife, awesome cook, stay in incredible shape, and still keep her sanity.
After all this, she decided to be a teacher. And she chose to teach in Newtown, Connecticut several years ago – years of dedication, late nights grading papers, unconditional love for her students as if they were her own. I give her credit, I tell ya. I only lasted a few years in the profession. With every changing education law, every political promise left unfulfilled, every challenging situation, she stuck by it. Even after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, I asked if her desire to teach had changed, and the answering was a resounding no. Again, I give her credit. I don’t know that I would have been that strong. Even after the tragedy, she never missed a beat, and continued to give and give.
Anyone who knows my mother know that she is not a taker. Up until recently, with both of us girls now married adults, she would never buy herself anything. She truly experiences joy from making the rest of us happy. Whether it was a half day art school for my sister or a cheerleading camp for me, any extra money would go to our interests. I know deep down there was a wild child who would have loved to get her hair done or take a day for herself or to travel the world, but she made priorities and stuck by them.
Mind you, in these 50 years she had never gotten a passport. I would often feel guilty as I had traveled to places most people only dream of by the age of 19 – London, Paris, Germany. To this day I am always seeking out new experiences. Mind you I couldn’t afford to do much while on vacation at 18, but I was there and I loved the experience. My mom had never once taken a vacation solely for the purpose of fun.
Fast forward to a year ago. Like most people in the world, I consider myself to be one of those who “never wins anything.” I am not talking about a Blueray player at a stag or a trivia contest at the local pub. I mean REALLY win something substantial. But then it happened.
I entered the Give Her the Stars Mothers’ Day Facebook contest from David Yurman, one of my most favorite jewelry designers. Clearly I did not have high hopes. But there was this little piece of me that had faith unlike anything else I had ever entered. I entered with a purpose. A first class trip to Paris was the prize, and Paris was number one on my mom’s bucket list. If I won (of course I never would, but if I did) I was taking my mom.
As I was still teaching at the time, I tried to write my 100-word essay as if I was being graded on my ability to answer all parts of the question, just as I looked for in my students’ work. I chose my words carefully, wrote and rewrote, editing. Took a break from it and came back again. Once I was satisfied with my absolute best effort, I submitted it. Even after the entry posted to the Yurman Facebook page, I continued to eye it over and over, with the sliver of hope that these 100 words could help make my mom’s dreams come true.
A month later, I received an email that changed both of our lives…
I won. For her.
After a year of my mom’s happy tears, Rosetta Stone French lessons, and various versions of an itinerary, complete with outfit selections for each place to visit, the day was here. We were going on a first class trip to Paris. First class doesn’t even being to describe this experience – La Premier service and seating on Air France and the Ambassador Suite at Park Hyatt Paris Vendome (in the diamond district of Paris.) And what’s better is that we went for Bastille Day so we could see the Eiffel Tower lit up with fireworks. And what’s ever better is that this was the first year in a very long time that the fireworks actually came OUT of the Eiffel Tower!
Moulin Rouge. The Louvre. Chanel. Laduree.
But it seems now someone else has caught the travel bug…Au Revoir Paris…for now…
For all of our France photos, hop on over to my Instagram @victoriagriffing