A New York man is taking his mother on 20 adventures to honor the 20 years she spent acting as a caregiver for her late husband.
In September, Barton Brooks embarked on a trip with his mother, Carla Brooks, and his partner, Gregg Goodbrod, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Barton said he was inspired to take his mother on the trip because she didn't have a sense of purpose after the death of her husband last year. She'd been at Barton's father's side for two decades, helping take care of him after he suffered a debilitating stroke.
Barton said all Carla knew was how to be a caregiver and she "kind of lost herself."
"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," Barton told the "Today" show. "She was sad and lonely, but there was more of a melancholy about what she was supposed to do next."
Carla was heartbroken, and Barton wanted to help her heal and inspire her in the wake of the loss. So he hatched a plan to take her to 20 European destinations, some of which Carla visited the last time she overcame heartbreak.
In 1962, Carla, originally from Kamas, Utah, traveled to Europe with what would have been money for her wedding after learning her then-fiance was cheating on her. She reasserted herself abroad before returning to the U.S., where she met and married Barton's father, Karl Brooks.
"She uses adventure, often, to heal herself from things that are difficult," Barton told People. "She traveled around Europe and explored and healed her broken heart through that."
Hoping to recreate some of that excitement and adventure, Barton convinced his mother to go on a trip across Europe. The group's first stop was Paris. Since then, they've visited Switzerland, London, Wales, Budapest, Prague and Munich.
"The most meaningful day was in Wales when we had the memory day for Karl," Carla, 77, 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 said his mother has more of a go-getter attitude.
"I get to hug my mom every night, show her things she's always wanted to see and have her hang on my arm as we walk around each city," Barton, 45, told "Today." "(It) has just been perfect."
Carla said the trip as been more than she could have ever dreamed and that it was the best decision she's made.
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