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On Love, Loss and Family Tradition

As I sit here, staring at my computer, I can’t bring myself to write about hiking in Zion National Park. I don’t really feel like editing my photos of the strikingly beautiful landscape in Light Room, either. My heart is just not in it. The only thing I can focus on right now is life: love and loss, family: death and rebirth, and with all of that- the inevitable questioning of faith.

family tradition

So much love

You see, two years ago today (“yesterday”- as you read this), my mother lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. I’ve written about this a lot: how my world crumbled, and my belief system shattered in to a million tiny pieces. I turned to travel for therapy (stay tuned for my guest post on The Planet D), and I struggled to get on with life. Now, I find myself at a new crossroads.

family tradition


Resurrecting Thanksgiving family tradition

Last week, my family celebrated our traditional Thanksgiving feast at my childhood home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There were 43 of us, in total- all from my mom’s side of the family. Every family brought about three or four dishes, which turned in to the ultimate potluck. We had: two cornbread dressings, two turkeys, a roast, a ham, three dirty rice dressings, an oyster dressing, a green bean casserole, spinach madeline, carrot soufflé, two sweet potato casseroles, a crab and artichoke casserole, a baked breaded brussel sprout dish, potato salad, cole slaw, and about seven different deserts, including my favorites: pecan and lemon icebox pies. Apologies for the food digression. You know that I 1) love food and 2) love to talk about food in the context of cultures and traditions… So there.

Back to the family aspect of that day. This tradition of gathering all of my mom’s cousins and their families started long ago. Unless we were traveling somewhere on a family vacation, we always invited the family to feast at our house. We had not had our Thanksgiving crew over since before Mom became ill. It has been three years. My siblings and I were determined to revive the tradition and keep it steady-going. It’s especially important now, more than ever, for us to maintain that connection to family… Mom.

family tradition

Last year, my family escaped to Thailand for Thanksgiving. I pushed the location because Mom and Dad had made plans to go there before she became sick and never made it.

The next generation

It was really neat that I was able to announce some happy news to all of my extended family last week- in person, which I am also sharing for the first time publicly- to you right now… I’m going to be a mom! Alan and I are having a baby! I’m 13 weeks today, and I just had my third ultrasound. So far so good! Here’s a snap shot of the little alien- future traveler – baby:


Coming to America: 06-13-1014

I have to admit that this news was bitter sweet to receive. We couldn’t be happier, as we’ve always wanted children. It is a tough pill to swallow that I’ll be jumping in to motherhood without my mom by my side, though. I always envisioned Peg tickling her grandchildren while making that weird duck noise, then laughing her gregarious, infectious laugh when they did something ridiculously cute and funny. I pictured walks with the babes, Mom giving me advice (only after I pressed her- she would never offer it unsolicited. She was way too chill and laid back to impose. Man, I miss that!) Her encouraging and positive words would get me through the roughest times, as she would assure me that it will all be OK in the end. I had dreams- of four generations of Lewis women- sitting around, laughing, loving, crying….. It never occurred to me that it could be any other way. But it will be.

family tradition

Three generations of Lewis women. Wish it could be four.

These photos were taken from family trips to The Bahamas and Mexico, where Dad often kept his boat, and we would tag along. 

family tradition

Seasick on the Pegasus (our boat, named for my mom -Peggy).

family tradition

So on this – day of my mom’s death, three days before her birthday (she would be 61 on December 7th) and during these holiday times of family gathering, I cautiously embrace love, life and new beginnings. I take the painful yet joyous step in to the next phase of my life. Maybe it’s not how I thought it would be, but then again, life rarely is, is it?

family tradition

family tradition

Riding to shore on the mini Boston whaler, the Pegalou, also named for Mom.

family tradition

We took long, slow flights on our friend’s private plane. The engine blew up once, and we had to make an emergency landing near the Everglades, FL. THAT was exciting!

And what does this mean for traveling and blogging? I foresee a similar model to the one my parents used. Occasional getaways away from children and fairly frequent travel with the kids (Dad’s already broached the idea of a family trip to the French countryside next fall! With babies in tow- mine and my brother Cullen’s- renting a chateau??? Sounds great to me!).

This blog’s focus may evolve, as I do, although I don’t foresee a complete conversion into “Mommy Travel Blog” status. I will be greatly relying on my friends with family travel blogs’ advice. Lance, Mara, Keryn, Kara– watch out! I’ll be bombarding y’all with questions!

So, here’s to hope, holidays, love and family….. and babies!! (Alan’s sister and my brother’s wife are due any day now! Cousins!)

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43 Responses to On Love, Loss and Family Tradition

  1. Chandler December 5, 2013 at 9:24 AM #

    Miss the good ole days. Mom sure made traveling with children look easy! I can’t even imagine traveling with one, much less three, four, or five!!! She was superwoman, one of a kind. <3

    • Lindsay December 5, 2013 at 9:44 AM #

      Yes she was. And she did it with such calm grace. It’s going to be hard to emulate that! I think I’ll be a tad bit more neurotic 🙂 or stressed….

    • Susie Gazaway Smith December 5, 2013 at 10:22 AM #

      So very happy for you and Allan. Even though Peggy will not be here physically. Her spirit will be there to guide you through, even unsolicited. Her grandchildren will always be a shadow of herself because of her influence and guidance of her offspring.

      Every time you look at that sweet child, whisper how much you love it into its ear an echo will be there as well. Every time you prepare it’s favorite snack or simply teach it to patty cake your mom will be there because that is where you received those gifts of love and compassion

      So as we proceed down the road of evolution, there will always be love, loss, and thank God family.

      • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 1:54 PM #

        Thanks, Susie! Yes, thank God for family!

    • Jenn December 5, 2013 at 10:58 AM #

      I love all those pictures of the Lewis gang traveling!!! Five kids in tow… man, Peggy sure is my hero. Great post Zay, xoxo

      • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 2:15 PM #

        Thanks, Jenn. Yea, Pegster made it look SO easy. I wish I could be as relaxed as she always was!!

  2. alliblair December 5, 2013 at 9:48 AM #

    Congratulations, Lindsay! That is fantastic news. You look just like your mother. She seemed like such a beautiful and adventurous soul – just like you.

    • Lindsay December 5, 2013 at 10:07 AM #

      Thanks, Alli! That means so much to me. I strive to be like her in so many ways. Hopefully, I’ll make her proud 🙂

      • alliblair December 5, 2013 at 10:10 AM #

        I’m sure she already is and always has been proud of you 🙂 Keep up the great writing!

  3. Sara Catella December 5, 2013 at 9:57 AM #

    Lindsay…what a wonderful news!!! I’m soooooo happy for you, children are always a blessing !
    I can relate to what you are saying, as you know, my beloved dad left us just few weeks ago…it’s hard to let them go, it’s too painful to think that are not going to be here in a moment like that or any other moments…but we need to progress in our life and embrace any new beginnings. They are always with us, in our heart, in our thouths, in everything we do…even though we immensely miss them.
    We are part of them, a piece of them is living in what we are today <3
    Send you million hugs my friend

    • Tracy Neuner December 5, 2013 at 10:05 AM #

      Lindsay, you will be a great Mom! You had a fabulous teacher and example of unconditional love. I enjoyed reading your column and especially love your style of writing! God bless!

    • Lindsay December 5, 2013 at 10:06 AM #

      Thanks, Sara. Hugs right back at you! We can lean on each other! Can’t wait to travel with you again!!

      • Sara Catella December 5, 2013 at 10:10 AM #

        me too Lindsay…we will for sure 🙂

  4. Kristin @ KEEN Digital Summit December 5, 2013 at 9:57 AM #

    Awww, I’m so sorry for your loss but I’m thrilled you guys will be carrying on her legacy through your own baby!

    • Lindsay December 5, 2013 at 10:04 AM #

      Thanks, Kristin! Maybe the baby will look like her 🙂

  5. Jessica December 5, 2013 at 10:24 AM #

    So sorry for your loss, but congrats on your exciting news. A bittersweet time for sure. Welcome to the ranks of traveling parents!

    • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 2:07 PM #

      Jessica, thank you! I’ll definitely utilize your site for advice now!

  6. Jill December 5, 2013 at 10:58 AM #

    Lindsay, we know you will carry on Peggy’s fun spirit with your own kid and in that way she’ll be with her grandbaby, too. So many good family times ahead, and it is with a full heart we smile at the old pictures of your family together! What a glamorous mom!!

  7. © Keryn Means/ walking on travels December 5, 2013 at 11:44 AM #

    Amazing and wonderful news! I know your mom will be watching over you as you go through your pregnancy and enter into motherhood. And of course I am always here if you have any questions, need to rant about morning sickness and sleepless nights 🙂

    • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 2:10 PM #

      Thanks Keryn! I definitely might need to rant about morning (i.e. all-day-and-night) sickness!! 🙂

  8. Trips By Lance December 5, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

    It is crazy how much you look like her. The only way I can tell it’s not you in those photos is that they have an older feel to them, but even then it’s hard considering 80s style is today’s style. Congrats to you guys. Don’t call yourself a mommy travel blogger, but a traveler who happens to have a family! I’m still trying to figure out the wording and accept that I’m a family travel blogger. We didn’t take major trips with our son until he was 5, so I won’t have a lot of advice on that. We managed to enjoy trips without him. In hindsight he would’ve traveled with us on those plane trips from the start. But a getaway to New York or Napa or Atlanta sometimes without the kid is great. This is great news, and be prepared to be flooded with too much advice.

    • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 2:14 PM #

      Thanks, Lance. I get that a lot (although most people thought I favored Dad when I was younger). I like that concept- a traveler who happens to have a family! Traveling family! Yea, the advice is already pouring in! I’ve got my filters on! But some of it is really good stuff! I got some good inoculation advice from a British friend, apparently kids traveling to parts of Asia need the tb vaccine, which you can’t get in the states! Eeks!

  9. Lindsay Boudreaux December 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM #

    congratulations, Lindsay! i know this time will be bittersweet for you, but your mom has definitely left her mark on you and your family – you will carry her spirit with you and your child will be one lucky duck to have such love in his/ her life. wishing you all the best!!

    • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 1:25 PM #

      Thanks, Linds! I can’t wait to meet that little duck!

  10. Megan December 5, 2013 at 1:50 PM #

    I have to admit, this is my first visit to your blog, but this really struck a chord with me. I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer 3 1/2 years ago 5 weeks before my twins were born. She and my dad had plans to travel during retirement, but didn’t quite get there. (She was 56 when she died.) Life is nothing if not unpredictable, which is even more reason to do what you love NOW!

    Congratulations on your impending arrival! I do think you’ll find a new level of healing through your child. After all, “new life makes losing life easier to understand.” I look forward to keeping up with your adventures with a little one.

    • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 1:52 PM #

      Hey Megan, I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how you must have felt loosing your mom right before having your babies. That must have been so difficult! Thank you for sharing your story and your kind words of encouragement!

  11. anerdatlarge December 5, 2013 at 2:36 PM #

    Congratulations my dear!

  12. Kristen C December 5, 2013 at 3:14 PM #

    That’s super sweet 🙂 I remember when my kids were little like 2. She would ask for a hug from them and say that she LOVED little people hugs. I have to agreei love them too!

  13. Kristen C December 5, 2013 at 3:16 PM #

    And congratulations on the new baby you will do great! You learned from the best 😉

  14. Mara Gorman December 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM #

    Congratulations Lindsay. I’ll confess that your post made me cry. I also lost my mother before I had my boys (and even now, 11 years after I became a mom and 15 years after her death) can’t believe she never knew them. Although I’ve only met you a few times, I know that you will make a wonderful mom and I look forward to your thoughtful explorations of what it’s like to travel with a little one.

    I’m a big believer in the intersection of great joy and great pain; these are the places where we see most clearly and feel most acutely. I feel equally certain that you carry both your mother and your baby within you. Peace and love to you all.

    • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM #

      Thanks for your sweet words of encouragement, Mara! I remember when you told me your story in Toronto, I felt that connection to you as someone who had walked that similar, sad path. It gives me great hope to see how happy you are now with life and your family!

  15. Jacqui December 6, 2013 at 12:09 AM #

    Many, many congratulations Lindsay on your wonderful news:)

  16. Alouise December 6, 2013 at 2:05 AM #

    First congratulations on the happy news. I can only imagine how hard the holidays are without your mom, but I think honouring her by trying to keep your family traditions is a beautiful thing, and soon you will have a child who you’ll be able to share those traditions with.

    • Lindsay December 6, 2013 at 8:27 AM #

      Thanks, Alouise! Yes, the holidays are tough without Mom, but it’s also nice to have the support of family during that time, too. We’re really excited about the new little one!

  17. malaysianmeanders April 10, 2014 at 11:49 AM #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your love for your mother is abundantly evident, and I can see that she was instrumental in helping develop your love of travel. Congratulations on the news that you’ll be a mom in a few months. Even though your own mother isn’t physically there, I’m sure that you will pass on to your own kids the lessons that you learned from her.

    • Lindsay April 10, 2014 at 6:48 PM #

      Thank you for those kind words! I will strive every day to be the amazing mother that she was! She was so involved and caring but balanced it all so perfectly with being relaxed, laid-back and positive! I hope our baby girl loves travel as much as her mom and grandmother!

  18. Colleen Lanin May 8, 2014 at 6:36 PM #

    What a beautiful tribute to your mom! My mom lost her own mom when she was just 10 years old, so I never got to meet my grandma. I am so thankful that I have gotten the chance to see my mom with my kids and my heart breaks for you that you will not get to experience that. If you believe like I do, you know that your mom will be there in spirit tickling their toes. It’s not the same, though. And for that I am so very sorry.

    • Lindsay May 9, 2014 at 9:56 AM #

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Colleen. I do struggle with this- a lot. My mom was the best, and she just loved loved loved babies and kids. It’s one of the things I looked forward to most about getting older, was having my own children and having that dynamic with her. It was neat watching her with my younger siblings (two of whom are much younger than me) and helping her with them. My struggle, and my mission, will be to ensure that my daughter knows her grandmother (G.G. is what she wanted to be called, for Grand Goddess ;-)) as much as possible- through stories and photos and videos. It’s just a big empty hole that can never be filled. But it’s what life threw at us. And we just truck along making the best of it that we can. Thanks again for the comment!


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