Vacations have always been the glue keeping my family together. As far back as I can remember, my father traveled often for work, at times more than fifty percent of any given month. Postcards from New Zealand or India kept us close, phone calls before school, or well after dark brought us closer. It seems I learned a lot about him through these methods. The best part of these travels meant his mind was open to new places, cultures, people, and took my family along for some great rides. I personally lean towards the tropics, finding Peace on pretty much any oceanside hammock.
I remember staying on the Malaysian island of Penang, I was ten years old. My Father had arranged a conference of all the Asian managers of his company the weeks prior. If you can imagine a warm breeze, cooling your burned skin, but warming your insides. We walked into our hotel’s poolside restaurant, I recall live music, the smell of tiki torches mixed with orchids, and a large, outdoor grill. The musicians, a trio, all nodded their heads. Their leader, playing the upright-bass, welcomed us, saying “Hello Mr. Hacker, how are you this evening”. They played Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton as the sun winked us all goodnight over the water.
As a child, sons are born to lift their fathers above all other men, at least until we turn thirteen. I see much more in this brief encounter today, than I did that evening. He had a way of motivating people to do good work. He remembered names, and spoke with a light heart. As the years passed, it appeared everyone from the front desk staff, to the swim-up bar staff knew his name. It was through these adventures that this became apparent. These are now my shoes to fill.
We toured the world together, which helped form a stronger nuclear family. Friends and places changed often, our only constant each other. Travel meant shared experiences, no long distance phone calls, the only postcards sent to whoever was watching the family cat. And no matter where we lived, how busy we all were, my family always found time for vacations. A new car brings buyer’s remorse, shiny toys grow dull, but people and places can fascinate even the most traveled souls. And we always did it as a family. Times I will never forget.