My 88-year-old Mutti just got back from another tour of Deutschland. My brother took her back to Germany last year, too, to revisit the places we lived years ago.

This is actually a photo from our first weekend living there back in the early 70s. Yep, that’s Mom in the hot pink polyester pantsuit. At that time in German fashion history, you might as well have put a neon American flag on yourself with a sign that said, AMERICAN TOURIST HERE!” (Note, I’m hanging back in the pack trying desperately to put out a lame “I’m not not a dang tourist—or with them” GQ vibe. And by the way, my mom is distinctly Deutsch so she quickly got into “the German fashion groove” to the point that when we lived in the famed Rothenberg ob der Tauber town, Japanese tourists sometimes asked to have their picture taken with her.)

This shot was also taken in August when we decided to go see the spectacular monthly lighting of the castle in Heidelberg. Dad didn’t let a silly inconvenience like the lack of car shut down any of our early European adventures. So we walked through fields to the train station. He was the only one who could speak even a bisschen of Deutsch. We, of course, got on the wrong train which Dad discovered while trying to practice casual German conversation with a fellow passenger. We panicked, jumped off at the next stop and then got on the right train.

I remember seeing mom laughing, holding my little sister and looking at my dad with a twinkle in her eye as we were finally rolling our merry way to Heidelberg. She’s been through a lot and much worse since then, but she’s still up for an adventure…