Where is Suzy now? Celebrating a personal milestone in global style

They’re in Paris and that’s the Eiffel Tower (lit up) in the background.

Turning 80 gets your attention.  There’s a now or never note that motivates.  When my California-based sister presented the chance to join her on a grand European tour, I was in.

I’m just back from our whirlwind adventure.  Three days in Prague.  Five-day cruise from Vienna to Budapest and back with Santa Barbara Symphony supporters.  Three days in Krakow.  (A pilgrimage to Auschwitz/Birkenau—all the more chilling due to the current international rise in antisemitism.)  Three days in Paris at the uber hip Costes Hotel with Anne’s charming publisher/social influencer daughter Jen.  Five days in Sicily at a stunning private villa with my adult sons and their wives.

One helluva birthday celebration.

For five years, when Burton was ill, I didn’t travel often.  When I did, it was with my sister and a heavy heart.  While I miss my man and the fun we had together, while I honor the hard work we both did to save our marriage, I don’t miss the last five years.  Brain cancer and a stroke dimmed Burton’s light.  Though he never, ever complained, his last five years were rough.  On him, for sure.  A dynamo who created a company that fulfilled his wish to outlive him.  An athlete who planned to spend his last years on the golf course.

His last years were hard on our family, as well.  On our grandkids, for whom Grandpa Burt orchestrated so many adventures. On our sons, who adored their dad, listened to his advice, and spoke to him daily. And on me, whose heart broke to see my larger-than-life husband reduced to spending his last years in a wheelchair.

With my wings clipped for the past five years, I leaped at the chance to enjoy a nearly three-week travel adventure.

On my return, I spoke to a friend who, through business, knows and represents many families.  When I raved about the fun I’d had with my sister, sons and daughters-in-law, he observed how lucky I was.  He said, “You can’t imagine how many people I know who can barely speak to family members, no less travel with them.”

I know this, and I’m beyond grateful.

I think a big reason my sons grew into the good men/husbands/fathers they are is genetic.  Burton’s and my strengths were so different.  Another was a default on my part.  When my kids had issues (the current term for problems), I honestly didn’t know how to advise them.  So I’d say, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

Miracle of miracles: they have and they do.

The blessing of such a joyful trip is tinged with sadness.  I wish Burton had been around to enjoy our adventures with us. Sometimes I believe he is.  On sunny days, I feel him beaming down on us.

I write these words on July 1, exactly one year after we lost our fun-loving, street smart, generous, spirited, unconventional patriarch.

The sun is shining brightly.

Anne and I clowning with a sculpture in Melk, Austria.

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