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Son takes mom on 20 European adventures as thanks for 20 years she cared for disabled dad

Posted December 22, 2016

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — Following the death of his father, one man is taking his mother on 20 adventures across Europe to thank her for the 20 years she spent caring for the man they both loved.

Two decades ago, Carla Brooks’ husband Karl suffered a stroke that left him handicapped for the remainder of his life, according to Today. The loving wife devoted herself to his care — spending every waking moment tending to his many needs.

When Karl passed away a year ago, 77-year-old Carla lost her sense of self, according to her son Barton Brooks.

“It wasn’t a huge shock when he passed away, but after caring for him 24/7 for nearly 20 years — she was just lost,” Brooks told Today. “She was sad and lonely (obviously), but there was more of a melancholy about what she was supposed to do next.”

As he was brainstorming ways to help his mom, Barton Brooks remembered the story of his young mother running away to Europe with her wedding money after discovering her then-fiancé had been unfaithful, People reported. From that memory, a grand adventure was born.

“For as long as I can remember, whenever she did something impressive (dad would) jokingly say, ‘How’d you do that? You’re just a little girl from Kamas! (Utah)’ and it would always make her smile,” Brooks wrote on his blog, The Little Girl from Kamas. “I think it’s time to find that little girl from Kamas, and prove to her just how much life she has left to live.”

Using the slides from his mother’s original trip to Europe, Brooks set an itinerary that aimed to re-create her experience and then surprised Carla with the plan.

“I was surprised and overwhelmed, and was really excited, but just didn’t think I could do it,” Carla told Today. “But I decided I wanted to try!”

So back in September, Carla, Barton and Barton’s fiancé hopped on a flight to Paris — and they haven’t looked back. The trio is documenting their adventures on The Little Girl From Kamas blog, as well as Instagram and Facebook.

They're also featured on People's website in a section called "Carla's Comeback," where they post videos and stories of their adventures.

Since touching down on European soil, Carla has enjoyed a crepe on the river Seine, road tripped to Switzerland, wandered Stonehenge, bathed in Budapest and explored castles in Prague — among other things.

On Nov. 7 — Karl's birthday and anniversary of his burial — the mother-son pair visited his ancestors' home in Talacre, Wales.

“The most meaningful day was in Wales when we had the memory day for Karl,” Carla told Today. “We spent that day at the lighthouse where his great-grandfather was the lighthouse keeper 150 years ago, and we’d been there together before — he loved it there.”

Barton told Today that through their travels, his mother seems to be finding herself again.

“I’ve already gotten more than I could have ever dreamed,” he said. “It was the best decision I’ve made.”

The trio is about halfway through their trip and has plans to make stops in Rome, Florence, Austria, Germany and France in the coming months. The wanderers are also taking suggestions for potential adventures on the website, so if you know of a European destination that cannot be missed, click here.

Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.

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