Queen Elizabeth’s four-day Diamond Jubilee celebration just ended. It made me think of how much my mother would have loved the coverage of the event. I am convinced my mother was British in a previous life. Growing up I recall she loved all things royal, watching Masterpiece Theatre, and anything on the BBC (once we had access to it). She took me to London for my 16th birthday after winning the trip in a raffle at my school. It was an incredible adventure. We did all the classic tourist things: a double-decker bus tour, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Big Ben, witnessed the changing of the guard, Trafalgar Square, Harrod’s, Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum, saw three plays on the West End – Les Miserables, Cats and Starlight Express – we ate fish and chips, partook in tea time, rode the tube to all the different neighborhoods and simply soaked up all the culture. I remember it like it was yesterday. Alas, it was August 1986!
You never know how a mother and teenage daughter will get along on a long trip, especially one when you’re overseas in an unfamiliar territory. It was a lot of fun and I got to see my mother in a different light. She was in her element (remember she was British in another life) and I think that made things more easy-going for us. One day as we were shopping we passed a record store with posters of Madonna and today’s birthday boy, Prince. I was struck by the Prince posters because they were promoting that he was playing at Wembley Arena while we were in town. I was a giddy 16 year-old saying how cool it would have been able to see him in concert while in London. To my surprise my mom asked me if I wanted to go. I couldn’t believe my ears and I didn’t dare think she was serious so I didn’t press her on it. I couldn’t imagine her going to a Prince concert with me, or allowing me to go by myself. I will never know now if she was serious. I chalk it up to one missed opportunity and one less memory I could have made. I’ve seen Prince in concert several times, so I know it was an amazing concert.
Almost two decades later I returned the favor and treated my mom to a trip back to London. Little did I know when I planned the trip she had begun showing signs of losing her memory and her journey of living with dementia was just beginning. Our trip was challenging. She wasn’t as engaged and she was unsure of herself with every outing we took. Her piece of paradise and the memories we had across the pond were as foggy to her as a classic London day. During our stay I longed to have the travel companion I had when I was 16, but was grateful to guide her through the city just as she did with me all those years ago. I guess in my heart when I think of her I can say: We’ll always have London.