License to Chill

What Happens in Vegas

This weekend, my husband and I are taking a few days to go to our Vegas. I call it this,  acting rather pretentious and with much liberty, because I feel that this place is truly ours. We’ve gone there so much, walked its streets and eaten in the gourmet restaurants so often….that we’ve gotten it down to a science. This isn’t to say that we do the same things over and over again…although there are a few tried and true experiences that just can’t NOT be re-done. But it seems that whatever new thing we venture out on a limb to give a go….has a funny way of working out, leaving us with the horrible problem of trying to figure out which new ones to add to our regular repertoire, and which to let go in favor of another fresh experience.

License to Chill

Our “excuse” for going this time is to see the classic living legend, Jimmy Buffet. I certainly don’t know him personally, but he strikes me as the kind of fellow that at any given moment could just up and decide to go live on a private island and give up on all of us faithful parrotheads. He’d miss us, feel a little bad, but know from his nose to his toes…that the day he doesn’t really feel like singing for us, is the day he needs to stop. And if I’m right, there can be very few Jimmy Buffet concerts left behind, if there’s any way we can get to see him one more time.

In December, we are taking the family for a beautiful 7 day trip to Mexico. We’ve done this before and those memories still can keep me warm on the coldest of South Dakota days. I feel so fortunate that we are able to do so such a thing, that sometimes the very thought of it makes an electric tingle spread right from my chest and straight up through the top of my head! What a rare gift to us Midwesterners that have not grown up with the ocean in our backyard. And my guess would be, that the day we take off, the temps will be hovering somewhere near a balmy -10 degrees, making our flee to palm trees seem even sweeter.

As I was chauffeuring children around the other day, and basking in the knowledge that we have some wonderful times ahead of us, a knife-sharp memory from my childhood swam in front of me.

When my Dad died, my older 3 sisters were off and on their own. It was just my Mom and I, out on the farm by ourselves. I remember the blaring silence that seemed to come from the chair my Dad had sat in at the supper table. After all the family and friends got on with their otherwise normal lives, Mom and me had to find a new normal. I always feel especially grateful for  being given such a mother as she. Times were very hard for us. My Father’s death was shocking, and among many sadnesses and trials, was the issue of money. Or rather, the lack of it. However, my Mom handled it with grace and apparent ease. She made us partners.

I remember many a family meeting, the family being composed of only she and I, where I was asked for my opinion in many matters. Should we move into town? How shall we spend the small amount money we have set aside for fun? Did I need new shoes now, or could they wait for just a bit? All of these were asked as if I was a fellow adult, and my answers were acknowledged in this same way. Not long after we had started to get ourselves into a routine and divvied up  job responsibilities around our farm, my Mom surprised me by suggesting a trip.

My Mom is very gifted in so many areas. She is a former star athlete, that played professionally for Look Magazine at age 16. She has a very good sense about how to manage money and grow wealth. There are many dishes that only she can really pull off, and if there is someone out there more successful in building up children’s fragile self-self esteems, I’d like to meet them.


This lady has no sense of direction. None whatsoever.

She prides herself on using landmarks, and for the most part, it has worked really well for her. Of course, when Mr. So and So had the annoying idea to paint his house a different color, that caused all sorts of problems for my Mom…”I was looking for the WHITE house!!! NO wonder!”

So when she had the idea to take a trek a couple of hours from our house to Omaha, Nebraska, a veritable metropolis compared to anything we were used to…I felt a little uneasy. As you may have guessed, I’m not in my 20’s…and so this was the age before Garmins and GPS devices. There were maps, and people to ask. That was it.

I’d never really gone anywhere very far away with just my Mom. We had relied on my Dad, who didn’t always know where he was going, but exuded confidence in finding our destination…eventually.

My Mom’s reply to my silent worry that she could read on my face just as clearly as the morning paper? “Sweetheart, don’t worry. Our car can turn around. If we get lost, we go the other way!  And, we can always ask. I’m not afraid to ask, are you?”

And so, we went. And we did get lost a few times, but it was just as Mom had said. We asked kind gas station attendants, laughed, and turned our car around. We stayed at modest hotels and used our saved-up fun money for fancy-to-us restaurants. And we always shopped for a few clothes for me, my Mom understanding fashion to be very important to a young lady, having had 3 prior daughters to raise up. Those trips are tucked away carefully in my memories, and I treasure them. My brave Mom and me.

She and I are taking a trip next weekend, to Omaha, to relive some of our amazing times there. This time, though, with my faithful Garmin placed firmly on the dashboard, as I’m sure some of Mom’s landmarks have changed.

Looking back, I never would have imagined myself to be jetting off to Las Vegas on a somewhat regular basis, or that I would be taking my children to the ocean more than once in their little lives. That could be why it means so much to me these days. I’m really a homebody at heart, and I’m so grateful to have always been surrounded in my life by adventurers.

To be able to travel to another corner of the world, is a blessing I never asked for, but got just the same.

16 thoughts on “License to Chill

  1. This is great to have a mother that you can have as a role model. She sounds like a strong person.

    Your mom, being able to take this trip and your family are among your many blessings. I really enjoy hearing your joy when you talk about all this.

  2. I have so missed your posts but life got in the way. I LOOOVE this, the story of your beautiful mom and how you both coped with the loss of your dad. I adore how she discussed things with you and gave you choices. What a special woman and no doubt it’s partly why you are so special.

  3. Lovely, lovely blog; thank you for sharing your story with us :). It must totally be the season for it – my partner and I went away to a music festival on the weekend, and while Dungog is no Vegas, I believe it was equally restorative 🙂 Enjoy your trip!

  4. Lis, this was such a GREAT post and your writing is so beautiful when you write about your Mom and your family — just beautiful. I hope that you guys have a great time in Vegas and with Jimmy Buffet — well, you can’t get much better than that! Mexico in December sounds great. Hubby and I want to go somewhere in February. Here that’s about as much cold as we can stand and by February we’re getting some serious cabin fever. I’d like to know where you guys go! Have a great time! xxoo

    • Dear B,
      Thank you!!!
      I have some wonderful memories. I try my best to do them justice.
      February is a GREAT time to go to Vegas! WE usually go then, also…because Hubs has a conference there about that time of the year. We can compare notes!!
      Love, L

  5. Lis, I truly love your Mom’s words in bold. “I am not afraid to ask, are you? Those are life lesson type words. If we all did that, would it not be a more comfortable place for all of us? Many people don’t ask as they are afraid of showing their ignorance. If we let down our airs and just ask, we make a friend or acquaintance and guess what – we learn something along the way. Thanks for sharing. You are the best. Don’t lose more than your budget in Vegas and sing along to “I wish I had a pencil thin mustache….the Boston Blacky kind. A two-tone Ricky Ricardo jacket and an autograph picture of Andy Devine….” BTG

  6. Your mum is one gutsy lady. I’d like to have some of her courage. I’m a homebody too at heart. I never asked for the adventures that have been coming my way in recent years. Sometimes I’d rather not have them although I am thankful for them too.
    Thank you for sharing this moving, heartfelt post 🙂

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