Father’s Day in Saskatoon

Father's Day

My dad with his father, Leopold Opsomer

Waiting for my return flight from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where I attended the annual conference of the Travel Media Association of Canada, I am thinking, like so many today, about my dad. Do we need a special day to remember our fathers? I miss him every day, not only today, and yet admit that the pain of him being gone for so long somewhat intensified when I woke up this morning. However, the true reason why we need Father’s Day is to remind young men, the future fathers to be, that Father’s Day is every day. In so many homes, children are growing up without engaged fathers, and millions of kids grow up without any male role model in their lives. Yet there are many dads out there that are engaged and that struggle between their obligation to work long hours to provide for their families. Let’s just say that the workplace is often not very accommodating to moms and dads, and it becomes increasingly difficult to leave work behind even when at home.

Father's Day - Idan with my brother Rene

Idan with my brother Rene

I was fortunate to have a loving, caring and engaged father in my life and a mother who stayed at home for most of my childhood. I have so many fond memories of spending time with my dad. He himself did not have his dad around for many years, as grandpa Leopold Opsomer died during WWII when my father was only 10 years old.

And, yes, I am a single mom, so my own son did not enjoy having his father around for many important milestones in his life. He was, however, very lucky to find loving role models in his uncles both in Belgium and in Israel. I am grateful for all the love and care they provided and the support they gave to both of us on so many occasions. It is the overall network of extended family and friends that have helped him grow up. It indeed takes a village!

Father's Day - Idan with my brother Peter Opsomer

Idan with my brother Peter Opsomer

There are so many children in foster care and in need of a good home, a father or two, a family. I wish laws would make the adoption process an easy one so that eager men can become someone’s father on Father’s Day and every day. I am wishing a very Happy Father’s Day to all dads and those who take on this so important role for somebody special in their life.

 

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home - Nailed it! Got my driving license .

Nailed it! Got my driver’s license

Not cooking a meal for two months and mostly sleeping in hotel beds gave me a real craving for Home Sweet Home. There is something to be said about cooking your own meal and waking up in familiar surroundings.

So how did it ever get so crazy? It started with me studying for my learner’s permit and taking up driving lessons with Sr. Carlos. Between the lessons and a press trip to Flanders, there simply never seemed to be enough time to “play house.” The driving lessons where intense.

Behind the wheel - finally!

Behind the wheel – finally!

Carlos drilled me every other day, and I still smile remembering his enthusiasm even in the face of some of my worse moments. The parallel parking exercises drove me, and him, crazy. The 3-way U-turns were my favorite and, according to him, the best in my repertoire. He felt that if I could nail these two items, the rest would just be icing on the cake–his words, not mine. To make things worse, it was time for the annual revision of my guidebook, time was running through my fingers, and it still seems like a miracle to me that I did indeed get that license on my first attempt.

Star Wars Weekend at Disney Hollywood Studios

Star Wars @ Disney Hollywood Studios

Once I had dealt with the car situation and handed in the revisions, I was off to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekend. It was a first for me and I really enjoyed it. I took tons of pictures, interviewed celebrities, met lots of fabulous characters, and indulged in some galactic shopping. I am now the proud owner of an Obi Wan Kenobi lightsaber umbrella and the author of three Star Wars articles.

Grave of Elvis Presley - Graceland

Grave of Elvis Presley – Graceland

From Orlando it was off to Memphis, the hometown of the original Peabody Ducks and Graceland, the famous mansion that was home to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Peabody hotel was my home for three nights, and I loved my excursion to Beale Street, where every Wednesday night Bike Night brings together young and old, showing off Harleys and other unusual modes of transportation.

Graceland is impressive, but I must admit I would not want to live in it. Touring, however, was wonderful and quite moving. Located about 9 miles from Downtown, it is one of the most visited private homes in America, with over 600,000 visitors a year. Elvis Presley died at the estate on August 16, 1977. Elvis is buried on the grounds in the Meditation garden.

On Beale Street, Memphis

On Beale Street, Memphis

His parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley, and his grandmother are buried next to him. A memorial gravestone remembers his stillborn twin brother, Jesse.

Next, I returned to Orlando for the monstrous 24-hour all-nighter at the Magic Kingdom. Walking on Main Street U.S.A. in the middle of the night and meeting Mickey and Minnie in their pajamas was lots of fun but absolutely exhausting. And, of course, all this fun does not come without a prize–more articles to be written. So here is the first one: Up All Night!

With Mickey in Minnie in our PJ's

With Mickey in Minnie in our PJs

So what is next? Some good home cooking followed by the launch of the Red Star Line campaign in New York and a press conference celebrating the cookbook of Alain Coumont, founder of Le Pain Quotidien. In between a short trip to the Canadian Travel Media Conference, this year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Last but not least, there are vacations in West Palm Beach and Los Angeles on the horizon. Life is good!