Who would you take to Europe and Where would you go?” These are quite simply two of the easiest questions I have ever had to answer. There is no doubt in my mind that I would take my Mum to the beautiful and breathtaking Italy. Italy is characterized by its magnificent history, art, architecture, landscape, and cuisine; as well as its friendly citizens who enjoy and celebrate life to its fullest.

My Mum has always had a tremendous desire to go to Italy and to experience what makes this one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. She has always had a passionate interest in historic buildings and international cuisine. A trip to Italy would allow her the opportunity to explore these passions further. In November 2012, my Dad decided to make this wish come true for my Mum, by taking her to Italy the following September. My Dad always put great time, effort, and research into planning their adventures, so immediately began the task of planning their dream Italian vacation.

In December 2012, my parents, as they did every year came to the Yukon to celebrate the Christmas holidays with my family. My eldest daughter was also home for the holidays after her first semester at University. Like all visits from my parents, I treasured the time we spent together. After Christmas it became apparent that my Dad was not feeling well. A trip to the Emergency Room at the hospital showed that he had fluid on his lungs. He received treatment and antibiotics and instructions to follow-up with his own doctor upon his return home. My Dad had suffered from Lymphoma for four years and had a regular follow-up appointment at the Cancer agency in Victoria in mid-January. At this visit the Doctor was thrilled to tell my parents that recent blood tests showed that my Dad’s Lymphoma was gone. This rarely happens and thus was fantastic news. Unfortunately for my parents this celebration was very short lived. My Dad asked about the results of follow-up tests that occurred after his visit to the Whitehorse General Hospital, and my parents were informed that my Dad had lung cancer.

For anyone who has ever received this type of news about a family member, you know how devastated my parents and my family were. This diagnosis was particularly frustrating for my Dad who had never smoked a day in his life. The prognosis for sufferers of lung cancer is never good, but we did not know how little more time we would have him in our lives. My Dad had already beaten cancer twice (also in 1980) and so although we knew the prognosis was grim, there was of course this glimmer of hope that he would be three times lucky. Despite chemotherapy treatments, my Dad’s health continued to deteriorate and the cancer spread. My Dad was in his seventies and was one of the most active, fit, and intelligent people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and in two and a half months he was gone. My Dad passed away on April 4th, 2013. His quick decline and death was of course excruciatingly difficult for his family and friends. I, for one, deeply miss our regular contact, his helpful advice, and his constantly supportive nature. Not to mention his ability to fix just about anything, a skill we all miss, especially his neighbours, who were frequently heard saying; “I am sure Ed could help you with that”.

My Mum has been my biggest and main source of strength and emotional support after my Dad’s passing and I am still in awe at how strong she has been and how she has continued to embrace life and enjoy each day. My Dad’s last request of me was that we “look after each other”. These are four words that will stay with me forever and ones that I will forever honour. Although it will most definitely not be the same without my Dad, I would love nothing more than to be able to take my Mum to Italy to thank her for all the love and support that she has always given me, especially over the last year, and to fulfill my Dad’s wish to take her somewhere she has always wanted to go. I believe that my Dad would be there with us in spirit, as we experience the beauty and tranquility of Italy.