For years I had heard my father talk about wanting to go to Normandy.
I don’t think my mother was particularly interested. She had humored him on his stops at Civil War battlefields on their way to Myrtle Beach. I had been with them on one of those visits and, I’m sorry to say, my eyes glazed over a little as he pointed to this place and that on the field in front of us. I’m not a student of the Civil War.
I’m not a student of war. While I have read any number of books about WWII, they have not been battle descriptions but concentration camp stories, or smuggling-the-Jews-to-safety stories. But that’s beside the point.
My father wanted to go to Normandy.
The year after my mother died was a rough year. She died in November. In the months immediately following, my father was diagnosed with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH, for short). The next summer, he had surgery that involved putting a shunt in his brain that emptied into his abdominal cavity.
After his recovery from the surgery, I decided that we needed to get him to France because if we didn’t do it soon, we would lose the opportunity.
I talked to my husband and my siblings. My husband wanted to go. My sister and her husband were on board with the trip. One of my brothers cleared a week in his schedule so he could go, too.
I planned and I planned. I booked places, cancelled them, and booked others as I learned that I needed to make sure the hotel we stayed in had an elevator – aka lift. (Apparently, not all places have them, plus the first floor in France is what we call the 2nd floor.) I found a private guide. My sister helped book transportation from Paris to Bayeux and back again. She found a wonderful hotel in Paris (that had a lift).
When the time came, we flew to Paris, traveled to Normandy, and had an amazing time.
I even appreciated seeing the battlefield sites, the dimpled earth, the bunker at Pointe du Hoc, the cliffs.