It started and ended in Stockholm, but I'm combining the two visits to save myself a little confusion. My camera, unlike Benjamin's, doesn't have a GPS locator in it, and I was (again) a little careless about resetting the camera's date and time function. There you have it. My younger brain wouldn't have forgotten. Now I'm just happy to take good photos and sort through them later.
Because Ben hurt his back just before leaving for Sweden, he was in considerable pain and unable to lift anything, including children or luggage. In fact, he had all he could do to walk for a few days. At one point, Ruth looked at the kids, the luggage, and Ben. He was hunched over like an old man, his face twisted in pain. We were preparing to leave the house for a flight, a cruise, and another flight. "Are we nuts?" she asked me. "Probably," I answered, but none of us wanted to scrap the travel plans he had worked so hard months ago to put in place. Besides, we'd already paid for everything, so—carry on!
In Stockholm Benjamin bought walking sticks to help him get around in a fairly upright position. Ruth and John took up most of the slack with carrying the kids and luggage as needed. Until my shoulders are repaired or rebuilt, I'm very limited on what I can do without causing further damage, and my left hip hurts worse than either shoulder, so I was nearly as bad as my son. We were a motley crew, but together we managed everything. John is a trooper, with never a complaint. It's no wonder I call him my Sherpa.
The sights and sounds of Stockholm will stay with me forever. The weather was supposed to be heavy with rain and thunderstorms, but we got just a few drizzles and some glorious clouds. It was cool and bright most of the time, which made all the walking so much easier. I've mentioned before that I do not do heat gracefully. It's all I can do to be nice when the temperatures "soars" beyond 80°. Yes, I said 80. I love it around 60-65°. Even 70-75° is fine. That's about what we got.
Trust me. You've never been shopping until you window shop with grandchildren. They had so much fun trying on hats and wigs, playing with little wind toys and looking at things, I spent the one afternoon of shopping just laughing until my cheeks hurt. It amazed me how few times they expected to be allowed to keep anything. Once in awhile they'd ask, but it was never with the expectation of hearing a yes. Good parenting. You can't ask the grandparents to come for a month and hide what kind of parents you are, or what kind of relationship you really have. It's solid and beautiful.
The churches (or should I call them cathedrals?), theaters, canals and gardens were spectacular. If my slideshow seems long, rest assured you're not seeing one in thirty of the photos I took—especially of the children.
I know it's not politically correct to say "my grandchildren are the cutest, the smartest," etc., and I always swore I wouldn't be that kind of grandma. Blame Ben and Ruth for having the children they have. I can't help it if I'm honest enough to admit that they are the cutest and smartest kids I've been around.