All Aboard to Petaluma – Returning to My Mother’s Roots

By on May 5, 2016
“ALL ABOARD!” – Returning to My Mother’s Roots

By Norine Rae –

As we are about to celebrate Mother’s Day, I am so grateful for the gift of my mom and I would like to share about a wonderful road trip I made to Petaluma, California with my amazing mom, Norma Doyel and my sister-in-law Carol.

A few months ago my mom called to see if I would be available to take a trip down memory lane with her. She had recently picked up a travel magazine and saw that the small town of Petaluma, where she was born, was holding their annual Butter & Egg Days Parade and Antique Faire. She asked if I would like to go with her. My heart was excited with the thought of stepping “onboard” to join her. I knew it would be a special time for her to explore her past and share childhood memories.

“ALL ABOARD!” – Returning to My Mother’s Roots

Without hesitation, I jumped at the chance for this grand adventure since I was already in southern California visiting family. It seemed natural to ask my sister-in-law to join us, we have taken road trips together in the past and always have such a great time together. She too was eager to set the time aside to honor our mom, who is now in her eighties. We both knew it would mean a lot to my mom, as the past and future would kiss – coming alive – as our mom would be narrator and navigator.

We were blessed to stay with friends in Santa Rosa, which added to our fun as we were rekindling and building relationships as well. The first day of our journey consisted mostly of driving, which took approximately nine hours, but we enjoyed the time catching up on family affairs. After arriving and a delightful evening with our friends, we got up early the next morning to make sure we had plenty of time to find a good spot for the historic parade.

It was so much fun driving through town as mom shared stories and reminisced about her childhood. We learned that she had not been back to Petaluma for over sixty years. To her, this quaint town looked quite different from what she remembered, yet she was now embracing the old with the new.

We purchased a chair for my mom to sit in comfort as she took in the festivities. She was happy to be there with us and we all enjoyed the parade, food booths and activities. Petaluma is a beautiful historic town. Although a friend had said to me earlier in the week, when I told him where we were going, that he didn’t think of Petaluma as a tourist destination. On the contrary, we found there was plenty to see and do as we strolled the streets of this charming historic downtown area filled with shops and restaurants.

I felt as though I had stepped back in time as I watched the country parade of floats, horses, marching bands, live music, vintage cars, and even fictional characters including a few of my favorites from Star Wars. It especially, made me proud to be a Veteran as the crowd cheered on the military and Veteran groups who were included in the procession.

Parade participants delighted the audience (especially the children) by handing out candy, fruit, and other goodies. It was a beautiful day as families giggled, clapped, and cheered as their favorite floats passed by. My heart was warmed at the thought of the America I have always been so proud to be part of, an America where family values and tradition are important. They were evident that day! 

“ALL ABOARD!” – Returning to My Mother’s RootsWe also enjoyed the Antique Faire the next day where Carol found a leather baseball mitt and ball for my great nephew, her grandchild. It truly was a time of new memories unfolding as we drove back along Highway 1, taking our time to breath in the sea air and picturesque beauty of Pebble Beach, Carmel, and even a lunch stop for fresh halibut fish and chips in Morro Bay.

As we turned towards Highway 101, we knew our adventure was coming to a close, but we were grateful for the time we had together. My mom was overjoyed and we too were happy that we were “All Aboard!” on the adventure to Petaluma showing our love for our mom. I want to encourage you to take the time to celebrate with your mom as she rekindles memories of her past bringing them into your present as a gift you will cherish forever.


Norine is a lifelong learner, international speaker, minister, writer, mother, and friend. You can find her at:

About Norine Rae

Norine Rae resides in Redding, California where she is a member of Bethel Church. In 2012 she completed her Master’s in Intellectual Leadership from A.W. Tozer Seminary through Simpson University. She has worked over 30 years in Human Services fields and has done extensive work in ministry, missions, and leadership both foreign and domestic. She is a lifelong learner, international speaker, minister, writer, mother, and friend.

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All Aboard to Petaluma – Returning to My Mother’s Roots