“My Favorite Kind of Vacation,” column for April 5, 2016

Where would you go if you could go anywhere?

A woman asked me that recently on a flight from California to Las Vegas. I’d told her my husband was meeting me at the airport, and she asked, “What does he do?”

“Not much,” I said, laughing. “He’s retired. We watch sunsets. He plays his bass. We have an awfully good time.”

She smiled. “I wish I could retire,” she said. “I’d travel.”

“Where would you go?”

“Anywhere but work,” she said. “What about you?”

I’ve always loved going places. When I was a teenager, my mother used to say, “You go all the time! I should’ve named you ‘Go’!” It wasn’t a compliment.

My biggest adventure was leaving the South when I was 20 to live my life in California. My second biggest adventure was leaving California, 10 years ago to start a new life in Vegas.

Despite what my sister claims, I am not an exotic dancer at a facility for senior citizens. I’m a newspaper columnist married to a retired editor, who has traveled far more than I ever will. But now that we are free to travel together, neither one of us is in a hurry to hit the road.

We talk about it a lot, where to go, what to see. But aside from going out back to watch sunsets, about the only place we go is to see our family in California.

Maybe that didn’t make much sense to the woman next to me on the plane. But it makes all the sense in the world to me.

My youngest and his wife and their three little ones (Randy is 5, Wiley is 3, and Eleanor is 1) live only a few miles from my daughter and her husband and their Henry, who is 4. I was like a “nana yo-yo” going back and forth between their homes.

I loved talking and laughing with the big people (just as I love talking and laughing with my oldest and my husband’s kids when we see them.) What a joy, to hear all that wisdom and maturity from people who used to stick peas up their noses.

And the little people? Talk about an adventure.  When I picked Randy up after school, he shouted “Nana!” and came running to hug me. He might not do that forever, so I enjoy it while I can. Then we went to a bakery to share secrets and things we shouldn’t eat.

Later that day, Wiley and I played Superheroes. He was Batman, of course, but he let me be his favorite bad guy. “Here, Nana,” he said, handing me an action figure, “you be ‘Doth Vada’.” In my best Darth Vader voice, I said, “Thanks, Batman.”

We took a break to let Eleanor sit in my lap for a while. She patted my face, saying “Na-na.” Then she fell asleep on my chest and pinned me to the sofa.

Next, I went to Henry’s house to play “hug tag” out back. It worked like this: Henry did the running. I sat in a chair and grabbed him as he ran by in a bear hug that made him laugh hysterically. I was good at it.

Then we climbed his oak tree (a low branch) to talk about birds. (“Listen, Nana. That’s a dove.”)

Travel should enlarge our world, renew our soul and make us so very glad to be alive. That is where I want to go: To any place where I can watch sunsets with my husband; talk and laugh with my children and children-in-law; share secrets and superheroes and bear hugs with my grandbabes and get pinned to the sofa by a 25-pound piece of heaven.

I also want to go to the Carolinas, to see my Southern family; to any place where I have friends or in-laws who seem like family; and to any town that carries my column.

A great friend who was a cloistered nun once told me that, though she rarely left the monastery, she traveled the world by looking through the pages of National Geographic.

I travel the world by looking into the eyes of those I love.

I wish you could see them.


  1. The best part of any visit home (for me) is that moment when my grandbabies come running up to hug me. Of course, some of them just about knock me off my feet now, but I would gladly land on my butt for any of them. I know it’s a cliche but the years have gone by so fast! That adorable baby I used to rock to sleep is almost in middle school, and even the youngest is almost 8. Sigh. Sunsets and grandkids. What more does one need?

  2. Pearlene Curry says

    I did not see your column in the Evansville,Indiana Courierpress this past Sunday. Have the new powers that be, canceled you? Or not carry you?? I wrote a letter to the editor. My Sunday coffee is with you. This one was not the same. Pearlene

  3. Sheila Torres says

    One couldn’t ask for any better “travels” than those you take. Family is everything and those memories you are creating are the most precious of all ❤️❤️

  4. My husband and I love to travel, we have visited 49 of the 50 states and Canada several times. But we always enjoy our home and family and watching sunsets on our patio in summer. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life and seeing love in the eyes of our love ones. I am also a Nana to just one grandchild, he is grown and on his own but I am still Nana and the one he calls for advise and to be reassured. I feel the love each time I hear him say Nana. Thanks for your beautiful words.

  5. Shashi Saini says

    oh my God ! It was the best column I read among all the notes and stories I read so far if someone or any writer wrote except you because you wrote many just like this so many times and I read them not once but at least 3 times each one ,not at your website but anywhere in any newspaper as it was published recently with a different heading . Now they stopped its access free but asking for subscription . But I feel so happy to read it from your website free of cost worth million dollars . Thank you so much you let us . We feel so blessed ! God give you and all your family just happiness ! Good health and much more time together for vacation ,

  6. “I travel the world by looking into the eyes of those I love.” Oh, how I’ve missed you !

  7. Davey & Dan Myers says

    Dreams live Sharon. If you are as lucky as I have been Randy will always come running to you with hugs. My Danny is 25 and still does. Oh how it warms the heart!!! We are so blessed. Hugs to you my Friend, Davey

  8. Cecelia Jarboe says

    As usual, great article. Was your article in the Evansville, Indiana paper this week?

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