For My Father, The Traveler

18 Jun

In the small Sicilian town of Tusa, travel-weary but excited, my father walked into city hall. With help from my cousin, an ex-pat living in Florence, my father began to explain about the letters. Recognition lit up in the desk clerk’s eyes: “You’re the one! Yes, we’ve been waiting for you.”

Dad and I in matching visors on a cross-country trip in 1976.

Months before, my father had started a letter-writing campaign to anyone in Tusa with the last name matching his maternal great grandfather’s. His letters had inspired many inquiries: “Am I related to this mysterious American?” In one case, the answer was yes.

My father met his second cousin that day. He saw pictures of his great-uncle, and learned about his Italian heritage.

It’s how my dad always travels–with purpose, with enthusiasm, and with an insatiable curiosity for the world and its history.

He served in the Air Force in the mid-1960s, assigned to an intelligence post in Germany. For a kid who grew up poor on the wrong side of the tracks in Providence, RI, he took advantage of this opportunity to explore Europe.

After the service, my father brought his new-found wanderlust and a passion for history stateside. It was time to see his own country.

Ron, Dad, and I on one of our many Maine trips.

When he married my mother, they honeymooned in Gettysburg. After my brother and I were born, we spent our childhood on the road: posing for pictures at historic sites, singing around the campfire, helping to fold the map.

We weren’t always easy to travel with. We complained . . . a lot. Our feet hurt. We were hungry. And we were always, always b-o-r-e-d.

Except that we weren’t really bored. We were having the time of our lives.

My father is the reason I’m always planning two (or three, or four) vacations ahead. He’s the reason I studied abroad in college. He’s the reason I started this blog.

My father is the reason my children will see the world, as much as I can show them, and they will pass this legacy of exploration on to their children.

It’s a gift from my father that I will never be able to repay. But I’ll try, by embracing every opportunity to get away and to learn from the places I visit.

And when my own kids complain of being bored, I’ll smile. I know better.

Thanks, Dad.

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6 Responses to “For My Father, The Traveler”

  1. m.j. June 19, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    Love this. What a great story and tribute to your dad.

  2. Scott Walmsley June 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    Great post about a great guy. Well done Stasia.

  3. Judy June 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Stacey

    What a great gift your father has given you!

  4. Sofia - As We Travel June 22, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    The inspiration to travel is one of the best gifts to get! My parents also brought me up to love traveling. Now that I travel so much that I rarely get to see them, they sometimes say that they regret making me love it so much, but I know they really don’t 😉

  5. Carly June 24, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    Wonderful post and so important to remember all that our own country has to offer. Six weeks in a red, white, and blue school bus across country with my family taught me that. I wish I had half of my parents’ crazy courage to travel with children that way! Lovin’ your blog!

  6. Tracie June 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    I’m convinced traveling with children makes history and geology come alive when said children are in school. Great post!

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