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Dad and the Grand Canyon

I wrote this article in 2021 in our first year of travel.

My dad died Oct 1, 2019 after a hard-fought battle with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia. In 2015, he told me he had a bucket list item he really wanted to check off: seeing the Grand Canyon. So I planned a family trip for Thanksgiving that year. We flew into Vegas, did some shows and sightseeing, and took a bus tour out to the Grand Canyon. It was not enough time at the canyon at all, but he got to see it. He was happy.

In the days leading up to our visiting the GC recently, I was getting more and more anxious. My only memories of the GC were of taking dad on a bucket-list trip.

As we were pulling in to the park, I told Marc how I had been feeling, and started crying. Some places are just tied to people. A sight, a smell, a sound can flood me with memories. I am right back to wishing I could have one more day, one more conversation, one more anything with dad. I hear all the time to remember the good times and be happy. I do, but I also feel sad sometimes. I just miss him.

When we got to the rim of the Grand Canyon, it just didn’t look the same. We were not at the same place we were with dad. It wasn’t the same entrance point, or the same buildings. We were enjoying the place, but it was bugging me that this wasn’t the same spot.

After a little driving, we found where the bus took us before: Bright Angel Lodge. So appropriate. I took pictures of where we stood last time. The spot was the same and yet completely different. Of course, it was freezing when we were there last. We had bought hot chocolate before, today we bought ice cream. We’re here for a week, so we get to see different spots at different times of day. No one would disagree that this is a beautiful place.

After a day, I finally let go of the anxiety. I would do anything to have him back here with me again. That will never change. I’ll always remember taking dad on that bucket-list trip as a highlight of my life as well as his, but I have formed new memories now. I can look at that beautiful place with the wonder that he did and not cry anymore. We do get better.

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with Kathi Wells Macomber

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