Taking our grandson Zach to Europe was an unforgettable experience—and marked a point in our family’s journey that’s filled with hope for the future. How have trips inspired you? #BeyondMyWildest
Riding a cog to the top of Switzerland’s Jungfrau mountain makes you feel on top of the world. The summit is over 13,000 feet, and where the snow-capped peak meets the billowing clouds and the piercing blue sky … it’s breathtaking. But beyond the beauty, the best thing I saw that day was the look on my grandson Zach’s face. This was part of a long-anticipated trip to Europe—a huge pinnacle in our journey together as grandparents and grandson, a break from the harder times we’ve all faced together, and a chance to help him start dreaming big for his own life.
FROM SWITZERLAND TO ITALY & FRANCE
Jim and I had been excited to show Zach Europe—so we packed as much into the trip as possible. In Switzerland, we visited the ice cave in Jungfrau (where there’s even a Lindt Chocolate Factory inside the cave!).
Then we decided it wasn’t enough to just see the mountain—Zach and I parasailed off the mountain to our hotel to celebrate his 13th birthday (yes, this grandma can still parasail, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t scream most of the way down).
In Rome, Zach was a walking tour guide of information about the city, the Pope and the Basilica. (He had spent so much time studying the city in school at St. John’s, he was excited to be there.) Being at the Coliseum—something that’s 2,000 years old—and imagining gladiators and animals was magical. The Sistine Chapel was truly beyond belief.
When we went to Paris it felt like a dream, hiking the Eiffel Tower with Zach, looking out over that amazing city. We made sure to visit the Louvre, where Zach shared his wealth of knowledge about the Mona Lisa. As a big soccer family, it was exciting to be in Paris during the Euro Cup, where Italy and Spain were playing. And we did a midnight bike ride from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, which was beautiful to see the City of Light at night.
THOUGHTS FROM THE ROAD
Being there, where that historic, magical city has faced so much tragedy recently, made our hearts go out to the wonderful people of France, and made us grateful for the unity the world has demonstrated since. And for us as a family, taking Zach to see these places so rich in history, to experience first-hand the things he’s studied, to help him open his mind to the possibilities of life—it was priceless.
As I mentioned he turned 13 while we were there. When I turned 13 I was on the cusp of my teenage rebellion. Zach’s dad, Randy, was already well into his battle with addiction by then. So as I look at Zach now, a hard-working student, a talented soccer player, a truly kind and caring soul, I see the hope of our family—the belief that we can all learn from our experiences, and pass along the best parts to those we love. Zach, thanks for making Europe unforgettable—and for bringing us all so much joy!
Read more about Peggy’s journey from rebellion to tragedy to finding strength in her memoir, Beyond My Wildest. Go to www.beyondmywildest.com.