My father was a US Air Force pilot stationed in England during World War Two. Here he met my English mother and the rest is history as they say. I won’t pretend it was a marriage made in heaven or the sixty-three years they spent together before my Mum passed were wedded bliss, but the story of my American father and his G.I. bride has always been one which has interested friends and family alike.
After the war my parents spent some time in England where my sister was born, but in 1946 the family travelled back to America on the Queen Mary and settled in St Louis, from where my father originated. My Mum and sister revisited England for a holiday in 1948, then returned to the States on the first Queen Elizabeth. I was born in St Louis in 1950, by which time my Mum was quite homesick and the following year the four of us returned to England, again on the Queen Elizabeth, to settle permanently here.
My sister has some memories of life in the U.S.A, but obviously I have none, only black and white photographs of the many family and friends I don’t remember, most of whom have now left the mortal coil. It has always intrigued and saddened me that half of my family history is not something that has ever touched my real life much and of course being of a meditative nature, I’ve often wondered how life might have panned out if my family had stayed in America. Another imponderable.
Visiting the States wasn’t an option during my teenage and early adult years, but as travel became cheaper and more accessible, I began to wonder if I could indeed one day return to the land of my birth. As family responsibilities expanded and the years rolled by too quickly, I concluded it would continue to remain a pipe dream. I have always retained my USA nationality and travelled to other countries with my American passport. I won’t deny there have been times it has caused problems, but also some amusement and interest. It’s always good to be a little different.
It was late in 2008, the year my Mum died, when friends informed us they’d be travelling to the U.S.A to visit their son who lives there and was graduating. They pleaded with us to join them, knowing how much I’d always longed to see the country of my birth. The journey would take place in May 2009 on the Queen Mary 2 and although we initially dismissed the idea as impossible, a seed was planted. To emulate the journey my Mum had made four times seemed right somehow and at that time I knew my Dad wouldn’t object and my sister would help out at home. When would there be another opportunity like this one?
So, after a lot of planning, saving and stressing, we boarded the Queen Mary 2 at Southampton on May 2nd 2009 for the trip of a lifetime. Everything far exceeded my wildest dreams and it will be five weeks of my life I will never forget and always treasure.
Life hasn’t been easy since we returned two years ago and we haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing holiday since. However, I didn’t expect to ever repeat the experience, so I’m quite delighted to think two weeks from today we’ll be boarding the ship once again for what I hope will be a second fabulous and memorable trip. There’s something so soothing about being surrounded by nothing but ocean for a week and I’m so looking forward to just sailing away...