Road Trip with Family by
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Spring Break

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Rozie, Netsie, Drucy, and me

I had the IUD inserted just before coming home for spring break my junior year at Brandeis. It was a Dalkon Shield and not really meant for young women like myself. I lay in bed for the rest of that day, bleeding and in pain. In fact, I bled for a long time after.

I took my father and brother into my confidence, but never my mother, who would be hysterical and not know what to do with this information anyway. Immediately after returning to Detroit from Boston, we began an extended road trip, the last our entire family would take, as I married 14 months later and my brother would be ordained as a rabbi two weeks earlier, then begin his PhD, so be swamped with his studies.

My father drove a Buick at the time and we had our AAA TripTick route all marked out in orange marker. We headed to Baltimore to spend Passover with my cousin Louise and her family. Most probably, Aunt Sara, dad’s sister, was there too. We stopped somewhere overnight on the way and both my father and brother asked how I was doing…still bleeding and cramping was my response. They were concerned and consoling.

After celebrating Passover, we moved on to Williamsburg, VA. We had visited once before, when I was in 7th grade. That was a wonderful trip. We were all older now, but it was still enjoyable. Dad went off to play golf in the morning, while the three of us toured the historic sights. We dined in an old tavern at night. It didn’t seem quite as magical as it had so many years earlier, but still interesting.

On we went to Virginia Beach. One of my Brandeis suite mates lived close by and other friends were visiting for the vacation, so we stopped in there one night to visit Rozie (now long-deceased), Netsie, my roommate, and Drucy, whose father was a well-known rabbi, so my brother was interested in talking with her. Rozie’s parents were pleasant hosts to all us and we passed several hours there. But we were looking for a beach vacation and that was what we found in Virginia (debatable whether it was for lovers…we stayed at a family motel, but the beach was expansive).

Dad and I took a long walk, just as we did the day before I started Brandeis, up in Ogunquit, ME in 1970. Predictably, my nose got burnt. It was always good to have a long talk with my father. I’m sure we talked about the IUD. The bleeding and cramping had finally subsided and I felt better. Now 46 years later, I can’t remember what else we spoke about, but we never held back. He was my rock and it feels like a cruel joke that he has been gone 29 years. That sunny vacation day was the last time I walked with him alone without a care in the world.

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Tags: Passover, IUD, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach
Characterizations: been there


  1. John Shutkin says:

    An amazing story beginning with an unforgettable first sentence. That sentence says so much about you at that time — your incipient independence from your family — without having to say more about its (inevitable) backstory. And how this all ties in with what was obviously a final parental family vacation.

    In the end, this story is, most of all and powerfully, a love letter to your father.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Clearly, I could, and did, talk with my father about everything in my life. There were no secrets between us, which I know was rare for father and daughter, particularly at that age. I wasn’t the only one. He had the same relationship with his nieces (and nephews) as well. He was such a genuinely nice guy, good listener, always a smile on his face, always going out of his way to be pleasant. The lesson wasn’t lost on me. He listened without judgement. He didn’t try to “fix” the problems (necessarily…if he could, he would give advise). But we knew he would be in our corner. And that was a tremendous source of support and comfort. I hadn’t started out to write a love letter, as you say, but as I thought about that long walk on the beach, it did turn out that way.

  2. Suzy says:

    Very poignant story, Betsy. I am so sad about your mother never being a supportive voice in your life. Glad you at least had a wonderful father.

    The AAA TripTick with the route mapped out in orange marker sure brought back memories for me. We had those for all our trips when I was a child. I bet my mother saved them all, but it’s too late to retrieve them now. Really, before GPS that was the only way to get anywhere!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Yes, Suzy, my father was the supportive parent, not my mother, but at least I had one.

      Yes, GPS has replaced those TripTicks…still have some in our basement, I think. Brings back memories for lots of us!

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    I related to so many parts of your story — the AAA Trip Tick, the last family vacation, and even the IUD (which was a disaster for me after I was married, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy). I don’t remember the last trip I took with my parents, but the last one with our kids, two in college and one in high school, was a wonderful and poignant experience. We knew it would never be the same again. I love the descriptions of your father and that last walk on the beach. It’s a beautiful memory.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Laurie, I also had an ectopic pregnancy with an IUD, after I was married. Very nearly burst! And those family vacations were priceless. I’m so glad I thought about that walk on the beach with my dad…so long ago.

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