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Honoring our Amazing Dad

Our family, consisting of our Mother, my sister, brother, 2 nieces, 2 spouses and myself are planning a tip to Europe in June 2022. One of the main reasons for the trip is to honor and celebrate my Father, who passed away January 1 of this year.

My Dad, Jerry, loved visiting Europe, and had made numerous trips there in his lifetime (with my Mother), as well as being stationed in Southern Germany in the in Army (mid 1950's). Our June 2022 trip will consist of Rome, Florence, Fussen Germany, Murren Switzerland,and Paris.

He visited Castle Neuschwanstein in Fussen, and stayed in Murren on my recommendation 15 years ago. He really enjoyed both places. He visted Paris on more than one occasion as well.

My question is this:
How can we best honor and celebrate my Father and his legacy during this trip?

I know we'll be lifting a glass in his memory at many family dinners, but what else? Some of us have talked about possibly sprinkling some of his ashes in certain locations - but in Germany this is against the law apparently. Maybe Murren. I also think we should have some photos with us to place in our hotel, or with us during meals. I kind of want to make a button with his image.

Also, as per 23 & me, I found out us 3 kids are about 62% German. Our heritage is mainly from the Stuttgart area in the region of Baden-Wurttemburg. Fussen is in the neighboring "county", but we will be driving thru Baden-Wurttemburg's southern most section for a very short time on our way to Switzerland.

Love to hear your ideas on this!

Posted by
3815 posts

The question is so personal that it is hard to answer on your behalf.
If I were you, I would be particularly interested in going to the actual places where he went. Which town was he stationed in? Where did he go with your mother?
My idea behind this is basically to put yourself in his shoes. Beware, it can be very emotional - the first and only time I went to my grandfather's hometown (Avilés, in Spain), which he had left in 1937 or so, never to return, and realized that I was quite possibly standing in the same spots where he once stood... Let's say that I was a wreck for a while after that.
And, if I may, I am less sure about the photo idea, as it might make his absence even more obvious. Similarly, ashes are a very heavy weight to carry, figuratively speaking. I would just travel with my memories of him, if I were you.

In any case, whatever you do: this trip is a truly heartwarming initiative, and I am sure that it will be fulfilling.

Posted by
8614 posts

Are there photos of him and your Mom from their travels in special places? Perhaps re-create a family photo of some of their favorite spots.

Posted by
1601 posts

First of all, may I offer my condolences for your loss. I think making the trip in honor of your father is a wonderful idea, but I would make it as positive as possible in honor of the good times you spent together.

My suggestion may sound a bit odd, but it helped me heal after my brother passed away. (Yes, men do get breast cancer.) Two years afterwards I participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, a 60-mile fund-raising walk over 3-days to raise money for breast cancer research. My team members each carried a small sock monkey dressed as the person we were honoring and remembering. My brother rode his Harley for years. My sock monkey was dressed as Biker Bill.

A year after the 3-Day Walk, my husband and I went on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest. Biker Bill the Sock Monkey went with us, sitting on the car's dash to see the road. At Bill the brother’s beloved Oceanside OR beach BBtSM sat beside a tide pool so I could take pictures (and rescue him from an approaching playful dog, that's what big sisters do).

So the point of this post and my idea is, find something that reminds you of Dad and take it with you. Something that will make all of you smile be it a toy, a stuffed animal or a figurine, but something you can all hold closely if you need to shed tears or laugh. Take lots of pictures to remember this trip.

Posted by
344 posts

I am sorry for the loss of your father. You sound like a very loving family. Since your mother is going with you, perhaps you would like to ask her which sights she would like to visit, lodge, dine, etc. This will be a different sort of trip for her than for the rest of you. Perhaps you remember him speaking fondly of certain areas that you might visit. Did he speak of places he wished he'd been able to visit that you could visit now and raise a glass and toast him?

Posted by
5556 posts

...as well as being stationed in Southern Germany in the in Army (mid 1950's).

No doubt his first introduction to the country - and likely the trigger for his interest in European travel as well. If it were my dad, I'd dig up everything I could about his time and his experiences there during his period of service - then use what you find to organize some meaningful time there.

If he served in Baden-Württemberg, and the family roots are there too, you would have double the reason to spend some time there.

What airport will you fly into? If it's Frankfurt, you'd be in Baden-Württemberg in no time at all. And B-W is on the direct route south to Mürren. There's a fair chance he was stationed near Frankfurt - many bases were located in that area back then.

Neuschwanstein is the only objective in Germany as of now? It's a 25-30 minute tour. I think if Germany is so much a part of your shared history, several days there might be a good idea.

Posted by
85 posts

Bart, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Dad must have been a great guy for you to want to make this trip to honour him and to include the whole family.

My Mother died in 2017. She left her kids a bit of money, and I decided to take a first time trip to Paris the next year on her dime. I thought it would be even better to take her with me, so I packed some of her ashes in a baggie that I called bag-o-Mom. She would have loved that.

Mom and I went on a RS Best of Paris tour. Everywhere I went, she came along in my daypack. We drank wine in cafes, and strolled down the Champs Élysées. BTW, she found the Mona Lisa a bit underwhelming:). We didn't go up the Eiffel Tower because she didn't like heights. I chose places that I knew she would enjoy, and food she would have liked. Two days before the end of the tour while walking across a foot bridge, with fellow tour members acting as lookouts for me, she went for a final swim in the Seine. Unbeknownst to me there was a cruise boat under the bridge at that moment, and she may have had a bit of a dip in a champagne glass during a toast. She happily did the back stroke in the river while watching the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. The tour guide had no knowledge of the event.

What a wonderful way to help me with closure. I had an opportunity to spend some meaningful time with her one last time, and I dare say, my co-conspirator tour mates got a chance to know her and help me say goodbye.

Anything that you can do to make this trip meaningful for you and your family will leave you with such great memories. You have a wonderful opportunity. I hope you can get some closure.