By Celece Krieger
A few weeks ago, I had to say goodbye to one of my favorite clients. Not only was he one of my favorite clients, he was the first man I ever loved. He also instilled my love for travel at a very young age. He held my hand on my first airplane ride on the Hughes Airwest Yellow Banana, convinced me to ride Space Mountain at Disneyland, and made every summer fun with our annual trips to Lake Powell. This man was not just a client, he was my father Robert Larsen.
Last year, this wonderful man walked me down the aisle at my wedding in Cabo San Lucas. Although he had recently been diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), he was able to make the trip to Cabo and enjoyed spending time with our family. He golfed with my husband Rob and danced with my bonus mom Julie. I will never forget the way he danced when some of his favorite 70s music played. Although he could not say much, we knew he enjoyed every minute of it from the big smile on his face. It was a trip to remember, not just because it was my wedding, but because it was the last one we shared together.
A few months following my wedding, we received the horrible news that not only did he have FTLD, but also ALS. Who knew when everyone was dumping buckets of ice over their head a few years ago, it was for the cause that took my father away from me too soon at the age of just 68?
Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with travel. Because my dad loved to travel. He could not wait for Julie to retire after 35 years of teaching, so they would have more time for vacations. They loved Hawaii and visited often. Other vacations took them to Alaska, the Caribbean, China, Mexico, Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand, a Danube River Cruise, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, and Russia – just to name a few. My father loved to cruise with Celebrity Cruises. He even called me from San Juan, Puerto Rico just to tell me how much he loved cruising with Celebrity and staying in their Aqua Class staterooms.
My father always wanted to visit the home of our ancestors in Denmark. He had a cruise on the books to visit Scandinavia in 2017. When a special came up for 2016, I convinced him to change his dates and go then. I loved hearing him describe Denmark, and I was so happy he was finally able to see where his family came from. He would not have been able to travel in 2017, so I am very grateful he listened to me and took the cruise in 2016.
There were two cruises left on the books for my dad, the British Isles with The Open, and South America with Machu Picchu. Sadly, I had to cancel them earlier this year as we knew he could no longer travel that far from home.
It didn’t stop him, though. He loved coming to St. George to play golf with my husband. Just a few months ago, he made the trip on his sixty-eighth birthday and played with Rob. Rob had to tell him which club to use and direct him, but he could still get out on the course for a few holes. Although he had to surrender his driver’s license, my brother let him have a little fun and steer the cart.
As we said goodbye to my dad, everyone mentioned his love for travel and our fond vacation memories. You never know what life will bring or how much time you have on this planet. I learned many things from my father, but I think the best lesson was at the end: Live life to the fullest and when you have the chance to travel – take it!