My mother planned the vacations. My dad made them fun – even writing a letter several years later describing one. I saved it and now can I find it? like my memories?

So, I ask my younger daughter Megan what was her favorite family vacation while growing up. “The trip across the USA.” (We camped and hiked for a month in twenty plus national parks.) I was hoping she would say that. She adds that the two weeks in the summer spent with her older sister Erin, and her dad (we were divorced) in Maine were fun, as were our summer trips to Ocean City’s beach. Before my two daughters were born, it was their dad who initiated a similar cross country trip that sparked my love affair with the National Parks.

My two youngest granddaughters both agree that Disney World was their best vacation so far, now being 10 and 12. (I plan to take them camping soon.) Denali is my oldest granddaughter, who is as stunning as her favorite family vacation, the trip with me when she was 16, to Glacier and Banff National Parks. I am surprised when she immediately says this trip was more beautiful than our trip last year with her mother, Erin, and I, to Denali National Park in Alaska. I am convinced that Denali is my dad’s spirit reincarnated, because of the special love-bond we share (tears.)

When I call my sister, Constance, her answer is Hither Hills State Park, situated on the ocean near Montauk Point, Long Island, a 6 hour drive each summer for a week’s camping in a large family tent, lulled to sleep by the waves. I like that our memories are not necessarily the same…she remembering it is the one week out of the year where there is no fighting between our parents or between us three siblings. She sees our mom and dad holding hands walking down the beach in twilight: affection not seen at home. Mom cooks and dad grills delicious meals while I wonder why I remember readily sweeping the tent.

For me, I like to be seen sitting on daddy’s lap at the annual Cornell University’s Stadiums fireworks…or walking often with him to the reservoir across the street from our home where a gorge creates waterfalls, where I occasionally swim naked as an adult, an act that took years in the making to overcome a religiously indoctrinated shame of the body. Denali walked with me there to Potter’s Falls this past week, just she and I, and I again feel (tears) my dad’s presence in childhood nature in her presence.

Today I am reading Miracles Happen, by Brian Weiss, MD, a leader in the field of past-life therapy: “We  are so tentative with love. We stop, we hesitate, we rationalize, we become afraid, we walk away. But love is not tentative with us. It keeps coming back, trying again, setting up new opportunities. Love is persistent. ”

“Love never dies. We hear its songs whenever we stop to listen. We smell our beloveds’ scents even after they have passed on. (tears) We see their messengers: the birds and animals, the sky, and other signs. We FEEL their touch.”

“We sense their presence,” (crying) as I do with Denali’s: easy hazel eye contact, liking to wear my clothes, firm long hugs, her constant “I love yous,”  which daddy and I could not say face to face, only in letters and cards.