I found that a little odd, saving special events for children only when they're old enough to remember, but I find it immensely strange that so many adults think that children will have specific memories of much of anything we do for them.
For different reasons, though, the vacation turned out to be a bit of a disaster. Joe and I had purchased a three-day pass to Disneyworld, as well as tickets to a couple of other parks we assumed the kids would love. Each morning we'd wake them up with excited voices, but they wanted to swim and run up and down the elevator and buy something out of the vending machine every half hour just to watch the candy fall down. "Gabe, do you know how few children get to go to Disneyworld?" I asked him, exasperated.
"I'm sorry, Grandma," he said, "but I sure wish Disneyworld was in in Texas."
I got it. My parents took us on vacation at least once a year, usually to the beach in Florida, sometimes to the mountains in Tennessee, and I remember about three things: a museum, a cave with Disney characters, and an alligator farm where my cousin decided to pet a "cute" baby alligator which promptly bit her. What I do remember is arriving at the hotel, running to the balcony to see if we could see the ocean (we always could), running up and down the stairs, building sand castles, sleeping late, and begging my dad to take me to buy candy.
Do I have memories? Oh, yeah. I remember that come summer, we would be going on vacation somewhere. I remember Dad gently lifting me out of bed onto the makeshift bed in the backseat of the car, where I'd promptly wake up and begin to ask if we were there yet. I remember stopping dozens of times to buy snacks and souvenirs and snoop around little towns... I distinctly remember we were never in a rush, that we played all kinds of travel games, and that my parents would stop early enough so we could swim for hours before we fell exhausted into bed, anxious to set off again the next morning for our destination. I remember when I was nine, stopping in Memphis to play bingo and Mom winning enough money for Dad to take me to see the Beatles that night, during their last U.S. tour.
It doesn't matter to me that I remember few specifics about our vacations. It matters that I remember that they were always fun, relaxed times with my family, and that the vacation wasn't just about the destination - it was about the journey, one that my parents always made into an adventure. I remember that I had an extraordinarily loving family who always created exciting things to do together. It became part of a memory of a happy childhood. That's the memory that counts.
I don't know if the children who were part of my life for several precious years will remember much, or even if they'll remember me at all, but I hope that when they grow up, they'll remember that part of their happy childhood was spent at a home in Texas where they jumped off a waterfall into a swimming pool, told spooky stories in a dark room, lit Shabbat candles and asked jillions of questions - or that they just remember that once upon a time in a dark, scary forest that was known for man-eating creatures, they felt the joy of my love.
Hoping to leave someone with a sweet memory today,