Thelma and Louise

8303883355_2eddd51333_oYears ago when I was living in Chicago my mom came to visit for the weekend.  Because I lived in the tiniest studio apartment, she stayed in a nearby hotel.  On the last day of her visit I was in her hotel room watching her pack.  I was sitting on the bed chatting away when she suddenly grew serious.  I remember her saying something along the lines of, “I have to tell you something.”  And I knew at that moment, because of the look on her face and the tone of her voice, it wouldn’t be good news, and my eyes instantly filled with tears.  My mom was and continues to be my best friend in the whole world (aside from my husband I suppose, but that is a different type of friendship).  We genuinely enjoy each others company and have so many interests and hobbies in common.  In fact, there is no one I enjoy road tripping and traveling with more than my mom.  We love checking out new places and stopping for pictures, and we can hardly contain our excitement when we come across a roadside flower stand, or a sweet little shop or an interesting old barn.  With a house full of boys, I appreciate our shared interests more than ever now.

IMG_4119But back to that hotel room in Chicago. “I’ve been diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.”  And there it was: the explanation as to why she had been tripping and falling so often, and why she had such trouble navigating her arms to put on her coat, and why she’d get a tremor in her lip that wouldn’t cease.  At the time, she was in her mid-forties with a young child at home (my little brother)- a picture of health and vibrancy.  I was angry- that is often my go-to initial emotion- it just seemed so unfair.  So unbelievably unfair.

IMG_0322As I’ve watched my mother deal with this disease over the past decade, my love for her has only deepened.  She is the bravest, most optimistic person I have ever met, and continues to live life to the very fullest, doing so much for others and never letting her decreased mobility or pain get in the way.  In fact, I don’t think we will ever know the real toll of the disease, because she is not one for self-pity or dwelling on her pain.  She takes medication every morning, and the disease is progressing, though if you were to meet her, there is a good chance you wouldn’t know that Parkinson’s was at play.

IMG_7274Who knows what the future looks like at this point- she could live to be 100, or the disease could progress more rapidly.  We don’t know.  But what we do know, and what a diagnosis like this brings into focus is that NOW is the time…  The time to travel, to be together, to make memories…because really, in the end, what else matters?  It is in this vein that we planned a road trip of a lifetime.  Beginning in Savannah, Georgia, where we’ll kick around for a few days, my mom and I will drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains, ultimately arriving at Blackberry Farm for a weekend workshop with the one-and-only Natalie Chanin.  It’s a “girls only” trip, as my boys would say.  Once the trip is over, we’ll all meet back in Northern Michigan to spend the summer together at my parent’s home. We’re planning on lots of late nights, rooftop cocktails, photo excursions, fried chicken, ice cream, Southern roses, and inspiration enough to last us for years (I can’t wait to share!).  We’re packing our bags for take-off on Sunday.

FullSizeRender-1Now, let’s go see about getting our Thelma and Louis on…!

p.s. If you have any recommendations to share (Savannah or anywhere along our route) please do!

p.s.s. This was shared with the full support of my mom, it is really her story to tell, though it is a part of all our stories…xoxo.  And the gorgeous flower photos you see here were all taken by my mom…my artistic, beautiful mama.

17 thoughts on “Thelma and Louise

  1. squam (@squamlove)

    You know I never cry– and this has me all welled up. I love Marianne so much. Love this photo of the two of you so much. LOVE LOVE LOVE this trip you are about to go on— trip of a lifetime indeed. Cannot wait to follow along and then hear all about it. XOOX

  2. sealicious

    How exciting! Road trips are my favorite vacations – especially with those you love! Have so much fun!

  3. Sarah

    I. Love. This.
    Your relationship with your Mom is one I hope to emulate with my own girls… I dream of our traveling, creating, and dreaming together far into their adulthood.
    I wish you both the most AMZING trip and I CANNOT WAIT for the details, pictures, inspiration that you’ll share!

  4. Colleen

    What a loving tribute to such an important person in your life. It’s clear you’re both making the most of every day.

    You two will have so much fun on your road trip! Be sure to check out Savannah Bee and Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah. If you like choral singing, stop by Christ Church Anglican around 9 p.m. to hear Compline. The beautiful sounds of ancient songs mixed with the gorgeous architecture in the church (and all over Savannah) are amazing.

  5. morancoll

    What a loving tribute to such an important person in your life. It’s clear you’re both making the most of every day.

    You two will have so much fun on your road trip! Be sure to check out Savannah Bee and Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah. If you like choral singing, stop by Christ Church Anglican around 9 p.m. to hear Compline. The beautiful sounds of ancient songs mixed with the gorgeous architecture in the church (and all over Savannah) are amazing.

  6. sherri

    You look so much like your mom and your boys look so much like you! And you’re all beautiful. Have an awesome trip!

  7. Zane

    What a wonderful way to honor your Mom and spend time together. It sounds like a wonderful adventure! I love how you seek out the beauty wherever you go and share it on your blog. I look forward to seeing you (and maybe even your Mom again too!) in Michigan, in July!

  8. Claudia

    Wow, what a touching story. I can really relate to the relationship you have with your mother. It sounds like the one I had with my sweet Mom. My mother passed away when she was in her early 70s, and I was in my 30s. She had a neurological disease, something similar to ALS, and it progressed very quickly. Losing her was the hardest thing I ever went through, and over the years she has never left my heart. I hope you and your mother have an amazing road trip — I’m sure you will! The memories you make will last a lifetime. Enjoy every minute. I’ll be saying a prayer for your mom.

  9. Susan Crane

    The Road trips I have taken with my daughter are among the happiest memories in my life. As a new grandmother, I am now dreaming of future road trips with my daughter and her daughter. Savor these days. I’m sure you will have an incredible time!!

  10. Lacey

    That sounds 100% amazing, well the love and road trip part anyway. I love Savannah almost more than any other city in my home state, so I’ve got a few reccos:
    Visit the A. T. Hun gallery in City Market because the artist guy who runs it is a HOOT, and the art there is pretty cool too.

    Back in the Day Bakery is awesome. It was the first place I ever tried lavender in food. Also, they have great vintage cake decos.

    Clary’s, the diner from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is jam up American diner food. Hopple Popple was my ex’s fave dish, and their stuffed french toast is something I still dream of almost 8 years later. It’s worth the trouble of trying to park in their tiny lot. It really is good food (NOT health food, but who cares?!).

    River Street is super touristy, but the Greek place down there is delish to me as well, but I wouldn’t know real Greek if it hit me with a fish. I think it’s pretty awesome.

    Desposito’s (1 Macceo Drive, 912-897-9963) – in Thunderbolt. This one is impossible to find with your GPS (or it was with ours). It’s at the bottom of the bridge to Tybee. You go over the bridge, and there’s a beat up mail box on the left side at the bottom of the bridge, and you turn off down there. It’s a little sketchy to get back there because you’re driving on a dirt path that goes behind/around big boat warehouses and stuff, but my laws their food is fresh and delish. I recommend the low country boil. Nom!

    Also, if you have time for a cemetery hop, I obviously love Bonaventure, but the one smack in town (Maybe Revolutionary War?) is awesome too. If you spend some time looking around, you can find old graffiti where troops in the civil war who were bunked there messed with the headstones. Some of the folks there look like they died before they were born and things like that. Also, pirate headstones can be found there.

  11. Lisa

    You’re right, your mom is one the most amazing people I have ever met. I am truly blessed to call her my friend. You guys are going to have the most awesome adventure!! Godspeed!!

  12. Cynthia

    You are going to have a wonderful trip and summer! Can’t wait to read all about it. So inspiring to hear your mom’s story and know you are all taking every opportunity to share the time of your lives together. Savannah and Blackberry Farm are on my dream list and Northern Michigan is one of my favorite places on earth. Great for the three boys to be on their own too!

  13. Nina

    Wow, Christine. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s sickness. My mom died from cancer in 2013 – so I understand the roller coaster of emotions that comes with having to process a loved one’s sickness and discomfort. It’s hard!
    I’m so glad you have such a special relationship with your mom. Your trip sounds wonderful! I lived in Savannah for several years when I was in high school in the ’90’s. It’s hard to know where to begin with recommendations for Savannah, but here are a few:
    1.) A Historic Trolley Tour (There’s so much amazing history in Savannah. This will get you started). The Horse and Carriage rides are fun too. They will probably tell you this, but a fun fact: Downtown, you will notice cobblestone streets and brick streets and lots of beautiful ironwork. That all came from ship ballasts. When they emptied the ballasts to pick up cargo, they decided to use it to make useful and beautiful things. Another story goes that when Sherman was going through the south burning cities, he thought Savannah was so beautiful, he didn’t burn it and instead presented it to Lincoln as “a Christmas gift”.
    2.) You must go to River Street. Check out the Waving Girl and Echo Square. I recommend that you eat at Spanky’s on River Street (their vegetable appetizers are yummy!) and then follow that up with a visit to Savannah’s Candy Kitchen (hopefully you’ll hit it at just the right time to get a hot praline sample and see the taffy being made).
    3.) I always loved Goose Feathers: An Express Cafe and Bakery. It’s downtown and I think would be right up your alley.
    4.) The Pirate’s House Restaurant. Pirates used to go up through a tunnel to the restaurant (it was a bar) and capture men who were passed out from drinking. The men would wake up to find themselves on a pirate’s ship.
    5.) Mrs. Wilkes: You eat at a large table with other people and pass the food to each other like you would at home. It’s pretty neat and the food is good. (Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s restaurant is also a good place to go. We went on Mother’s Day and waited a long time and the food wasn’t great. It was probably just the wrong day to go.).
    6.) Forsyth Park (downtown)
    7.) We had a friend who owned a boat. We once got to go out on Moon River – the one the song is about. I’d recommend some sort of boat tour.
    8.) Tybee Island (beach)
    Have lots of fun! I’m looking forward to seeing pictures from your trip. (Ps. I can see where you got your photography eye and skill from. Your mom’s pictures are beautiful.)

    1. Nina

      Ps. When I think of Savannah, I most think of fun times with my mom, so I think it’s neat that you and your mom will be spending time there. 🙂

  14. Xan

    In 25 years time, if my daughter speaks of me the way you do of your mum, then I will be the happiest and proudest Mum ever. I love that you are doing this trip together and I LOVE that your priorities are right where they ought to be. Wishing you both the most amazing adventure and may there be many more to come xo

  15. Pingback: Savannah | Christine Chitnis

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