by Theresa Snyder
Mom and Dad snoozed in their recliners in the next room. I felt relaxed and content as I began to write about the lovely weekend we three had just enjoyed.
It had been Mom and Dad’s 58th wedding anniversary. Since their 50th, rather than buying them “things,” I had focused on doing something that gave them an experience to remember. They always wanted to include me, and sometimes I did go with them, sometimes I didn’t.
On their 50th anniversary, a limousine took them to a special dinner. They had an album of family memorabilia to look through as they rode in style to the downtown Portland restaurant.
We three spent the night at a bed and breakfast inn outside of Silverton on their 55th. Several different times we celebrated by going to the coast for a few days. That was always one of their favorites. However, for the 58th I found a new favorite.
It was important for Mom to have a change of scenery occasionally, and equally important for Dad and me to have a little break from our roles as caregivers. I found the perfect place for both. I had just received my tax return and decided we would play like rich folks for an entire 24-hours.
On a Thursday afternoon, we drove east through town and into the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
During the two years he and Mom were campground hosts at Horse Thief Lake Campground, Dad drove back and forth on I-84 twice a week. This time, he was a passenger and marveled at the many Columbia River Gorge sights he had never noticed before.
An hour after leaving home, we were checking in at the Columbia Gorge Hotel.
I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement for the hotel, but let me drop a few adjectives before I go any further: elegant, friendly, warm and inviting.
It started with a perfect setting and went on from there. We had two large, lovely rooms, furnished with antiques. Both rooms offered an exceptional view of the Columbia River. We enjoyed champagne and caviar in the Valentino Lounge at four-thirty, then a little leisure and book reading until dinner at six-thirty. Blessedly, for one entire, wonderful day, there was absolutely no cooking on my agenda.
Prior to leaving, I teased Mom and Dad – telling them they were on their own after dinner Thursday night. They were the married ones and I didn’t want to get in the way. I told them I would sit in the lounge or close the door to my room. I must confess that I have no idea what they did.
I went to my room with the intention of reading. I never should have lain down in that wonderful four-poster bed. The last I remember, I was listening to the lulling sound of a 210-foot waterfall and watching the glow of lights on the river. The next thing I knew, it was five-thirty in the morning and the sky had that slight glow foretelling an imminent sunrise.
I lay there watching through the frame of lace curtains as the sunrise unfolded behind a huge evergreen. If I had the talent to go with the desire, I would have painted a picture of that scene.
Mother didn’t feel up to strolling through the garden, so Dad and I took a turn around. I could picture ladies with their parasols gliding through the garden in their long flowing dresses and their dapper gents dressed in their Sunday best of gray suits and spats.
We had been to the Columbia Gorge Hotel in the past for lunch and tea, but never to stay overnight. Staying makes all the difference. It’s easy to harken back to a time when traveling was luxurious and impeccable service a tradition to be upheld.
As I wrote and remembered, I felt so relaxed it was difficult to believe that I had a yard of compost to move the next day, the family’s weekly laundry to wash and three meals to cook. While still in the warm glow, I spent the rest of the evening reading the lovely book given to me by the hotel: Select Registry – Your Guide to More Than 400 of the Finest Country Inns, B&Bs and Unique Small Hotels in North America. It was hard to tell just where the Snyders would end up next.
This is the ninth in a monthly series, “We 3,” which introduces VoiceCatcher readers to Theresa Snyder and her stories – sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious, always authentic – about caring for aging parents. First printed as a monthly column in the Gresham Outlook between 2003 – 2008, they were collected in book-form in 2007 (Mt. Hood Community College Press). The columns have been updated and are reprinted here with permission of the author.
Theresa Snyder has been writing ever since she can remember. In 1996, shortly after she moved her elderly parents in with her, she realized she couldn’t resist writing “out loud.” She found an audience in east county interested in reading about the challenges and rewards of being a baby boomer caregiver. Unlike other authors, she does not possess a degree or a long list of publishing credits. Instead, she likes to think she has earned her title as “author” through life experience and a great deal of reading. Check out her work at Baby Boomer Caregiver.