Vacations don’t come often in our house. Sure I take time off from work and, yes, we take trips away from our home, but rarely do we go on vacation in the truest form: an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling. This last week we took a family vacation to Bermuda, a place neither my son nor I have ever been, but a place my wife called home for a year, albeit 22 years ago. We had a wonderful time exploring the land, snorkeling the bays, and just being together. Over the course of the week, I was reminded of many things, but the one that rang most true is my need for more vacation.

There are many reasons I say that. First, I had a really good time away from work. I love my profession and the people with whom I share it, but I do in fact hold on too tight to both. I do so because I find it fulfilling and I know the years I have left in the Navy can likely be counted on one hand. Letting go to the extent that I was able helped me realize that I am capable of just being. As much as I enjoy the work, I don’t always have to be doing.

The second reason is I realized how infrequently we go on vacation. We visit family and we travel to swim meets, and though both bring us great joy, they don’t necessarily recharge the batteries and expose us to new environments, new experiences, and new human interaction the way a true vacation does. Nor do they always strengthen the bond within our immediate family of three, the way entirely new experiences do. I’m not saying this is an ‘Or’ proposition…it’s definitely an ‘And’ – Family visits, swim meets, AND vacation!

The third and most revealing reason is the time I was able to spend with my son. Like many parents of active children, I don’t get to spend much time with my son. Between my working and his swimming, we see each other at most two hours a night during the week, while I compete with his friends for time on weekends. The opportunity to be with him, do with him, and talk with him filled a void that I didn’t want to admit was there. A void that makes me more aware of my want to know him better, a void that makes me more aware of the role my brother played in my life (he passed away in 2013), and a void that, as it gets smaller, makes me more aware of what a great young man my son is becoming. Though I am his father, not his brother, he has never had a sibling and I no longer have mine. I think he deserves to feel that kinship and I miss the relationship with my brother that is now a memory. Yes, we play pranks on each other; yes, we wrestle a bit; and yes, we have conversations on topics that other fathers and sons may not share. Heck, he may call me by a derivative of “Brother” as often as he calls me “Dad”, and I am more than OK with that (I do the same with him).

The trip to Bermuda was entirely my wife’s doing. She wanted to share her love for the island with us. She did that, but she did much more. She helped me to grow more comfortable BEING, to schedule more vacations, and to demonstrate more brotherly love.

  • How often do you truly vacation?
  • When on vacation, do you spend more time doing or being?
  • What did you learn about yourself the last time you immersed yourself with family?