11 June 2009

Longevity, The Gene Pool and ...Travel?

Mortality - we all to some extent (other than the odd monk or two) fear it.

At my mother's passing a few weeks ago, it fell to me to write the Eulogy and I had to assess what defined her life. She was born in India, moved to Canada, then back to England all before the age of 18. During her marriage to my father - they traveled the world extensively and were a part of what constituted then, the jet set. Of course her real passion was always her dogs!

Travel and the cultures they encountered defined the life of my family. My father also was born in a then exotic locale - Shanghai. As I go through the process of closing down the family home - I was struck by how much of what is in the house and was part of my family's life, symbolized that essence of travel - the small mementos and the (in some cases quite large) artifacts they acquired along the way.

Returning to my own home - it struck me that I too have followed that same path. However what was a past time for both parents has turned into a passion for me both professionally and personally.

Travel is far less glamorous today than it was in my parents' time. I recall personal encounters in airports as a child which seemed all quite normal yet today would be regarded as extraordinary. Still the lure of travel affects us all.

However the risk of travel was brought home to us last week with the loss of AF447. My father missed a flight on the original Comet only to be waiting at the airport the next day when news came of the total loss due to a design fault.

My mother lived to a right old age of 98. The week before she died we discussed her coming to visit all her family in the USA this summer. She really loved to travel and frequently - by that I mean every few months - she did so, short and long haul. The family eventually decided to entitle the Eulogy and the service as "A Life Well Lived". I only hope that when it comes time for me to board the great jetliner in the sky, that others will say that Travel defined my life as much as it did hers.

Keep traveling and spread the passion. Travel does indeed make us better people and the world a better place. The longer we live the greater the opportunity to learn and contribute to a better place on this planet. Hopefully that really does get into the gene pool.


PS The Professor would like to again thank everyone who sent in emails and wrote cards, Facebook entries and even texts. We encourage everyone who would like to commemorate her life to contribute to her favorite charity which was Guide Dogs for the Blind. There are many such organizations around the world for example:

US: http://www.guidedogs.com/site/PageServer
UK: http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/

I thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, Professor. As a reader I enjoyed learning this part of your history and family tradition with travel.

Frankly, losing the glamor and cache of travel is probably not a bad thing. It separates the "wheat from the chaff"and keeps "The Innocents Abroad" syndrome at bay. We are all citizens of the world and the advent of commercial aviation represents the first time we ever got to vote.

Sincere best wishes to you and your family in your time of bereavement.