3 Generations Make A Memory In Italy

Sometimes, I open my email and find better stories than I can weave. Here’s three generations making a memory  from reader BJ McCafferty.

Hi Andra,

I was in the audience when you spoke at the History on Tap Series in Crandon, WI. After we met, I read all three books and love them.  I especially liked “Not Without My Father“.

You wrote as you signed one of the books, “Make a Memory”.

I told you I was taking my granddaughter to Italy this summer.

We are beginning our journey next week, and Sofie(8) says it is going to be an “Epic” trip!  I believe her! I will record memories, but sometimes I’ll leave my camera behind and enjoy the moments.

May your Days be long and your Memories Bright,
BJ McCafferty

Grandma and granddaughter

Dear BJ:

I’ve thought often about your upcoming trip with Sofie. My grandmother never saw the ocean and only visited three states. Your adventurous spirit is going to inspire and mold your granddaughter. I hope you’ll tell me all about the trip.

If you’re going to Florence, visit Aqua Flor. I love their soaps and scented waters. The place looks like an old lab, and the proprietor is charming.

I’m also glad to hear you enjoyed my books. The fiction is the most fun for me to write, but I understand why NWMF appeals to so many people. I love what it’s done for Dad and me. His 83rd birthday is tomorrow, and we’re going to celebrate with him.

Please give everyone in Crandon my regards. I enjoyed my time with you so much and look forward to returning someday.


granddaughter and grandmother

Hi Andra,

Just a couple of photos of our trip.  It was epic!

I am so glad to have shared it with my granddaughter and my daughter. The first day in Rome we walked over 10 miles…..not quite 15 though. I have been sorting over 3,000 photos since our return.

All my best to you,
BJ McCafferty

Read more stories of people who made a memory.

Well, I wasn’t sexy when I was seventeen, or at any other time in my life. But, I did go on my Senior Trip when I was seventeen. We went to Washington DC, that bastion of politics, learning and museums that was supposed to teach us seniors a thing or two about America.

I didn’t appreciate much about that trip, other than a hideous 1987 sweatshirt I bought from a street vendor and the amount of time I got to spend flirting with the cute boys in my class. It was February of 1987, and it snowed on our arrival. My first view of DC (or any big city, for that matter) was of it covered with a wash of white. I giggled and preened and hair sprayed my way through the whole experience.

Yesterday, I relived a portion of that trip. I decided to revisit the Jefferson Memorial, a site I had not entered since that freezing day in 1987 when our group of gaggling twelfth graders decended upon the peace of it. The sky was a bottomless brand of blue, the kind of lovely that happens when summer humidity abates for a few hours. Set against the backdrop of that sky, the white domed building jumped out of the landscape as I walked around the wind-whipped Tidal Basin.

I don’t remember how we approached the Monument my senior year. Maybe we came on a bus, or maybe we walked. I know we were obnoxious, however it happened.

It was different yesterday. I’d already walked past the spot at the White House where I had my photo taken with one of my male classmates and stopped at the Washington Monument, where we all stood in a long line to ride to the top. By the time I approached the Jefferson Memorial on foot, I was sweaty and tired and thirsty, and I knew I had at least four miles to walk on the return. In short, I regretted going out there in the first place.

Until I saw it again up close, a palatial Pantheon in our own country. I made my way through the high school groups to stand inside the breezy, shaded dome, and I sat, still and reverent. I watched a girl try to pole dance on one of the columns, and I wondered if I did that the last time I was there. I listened to the group of girls next to me, complaining about how they were ready to go. That was me at seventeen.

They say we shouldn’t repeat things, that the repetition ruins the novelty of the initial experience. In this case, I’m glad I relived a microscopic portion of my life. With adult eyes, I saw the things I missed at seventeen: the exact copy of the Pantheon ceiling in Rome, minus the hole; the way Jefferson stares longingly at the White House in the distance; the salient words of the Constitution engraved upon the walls; the way the stone columns frame various perspectives; the play of shadow and light.

It was so much better than when I was seventeen.

Too Much is Just Enough: Doing Things Over to Get Them Right