You had to chuckle at Michael Phelps' mother for her unrequited plea to her son to forego retirement after 2012 and extend his swimming career through the 2016 Olympics so she could make the trip to Brazil.
Seriously, who wouldn't want to go?
"C'mon Michael, just a 50 freestyle," Debbie Phelps joked with 60 Minutes' Anderson Cooper. "I've never been there."
The comment was made in jest, but I don't think Debbie Phelps was kidding about that trip.
It's a privilege to watch a loved one travel around the world to compete in a professional sport that he or she has been working to master since childhood. And retirement is sometimes just as hard for family members to accept as it can be for the athletes.
Moms, dads and siblings aren't in the gyms working out and they're certainly not winning and losing competitions. But they are at the games, cheering (screaming) for their loved ones, encouraging them through injuries and poor performances. They are enjoying the experience of watching that rare dream of becoming a professional athlete materialize at every exciting and excruciating step.
My older brother, Chris Owens, is nearing the end of his career as a professional athlete. So I traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel, in May to watch his Croatian basketball team compete in the Final Four for the Adriatic League.
I soaked in every moment from the Croatian chants of his Cedevita team fans, to the Hebrew boos from the opposing Maccabi fans to the announcer calling his name during the introduction, to his final basket. After 28 years and countless hours of tournaments, games and practices, this could be it.
Sometimes the amount of time, sacrifice and discipline that goes into such a temporary job boggles my mind.
I can't remember a time Chris didn't have a basketball attached to his life and ours. Just about every vacation, every holiday was anchored around a basketball tournament. Anyone with a kid who competes in AAU sports understands this well. The sport becomes a needy extra child in the family requiring constant nurturing and attention.
Surely, Debbie Phelps can relate. Swimming has probably meant just as much, and maybe more, to her life as it has to her son.
The joy you can get from watching someone live a dream is just as good as experiencing it yourself.
My brother once dreamed of getting back into the NBA after he was cut by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2004. Every summer, he'd go to Las Vegas for summer league competitions hoping another team would give him a good look. And every year, he'd end up in some exotic locale like Istanbul, Turkey or Donetsk, Ukraine.
But he grew to love this new adventure. And, selfishly, we did too.
His career provided memorable vacations around the world (Italy, Greece, Germany to name a few places) for our family, although he rarely got to enjoy the time.
While my mother and I toured the Holy City in Jerusalem and rode camels, my brother and his teammates were confined to the gym and hotel room. That's part of the deal when you're working. Athletes like him can travel the world and never actually see it.
Chris loves basketball, but more than that, he loves what basketball has done for our mother. She was just 10 years old when her mother, Mary Ruth, died at 33. My mom is the fourth-oldest of nine children.
She tells us how she cried when she looked into the casket because her mother never got to see the world.
Thankfully, that hasn't been her story. She's traveled to at least 10 countries cheering on my brother from the stands. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if Chris played another year in another country to see another place.
When I was younger, I used to think basketball took time away from our family. But I later realized how much my brother's sport enriched all of our lives and, yes, our vacations.
And when Chris's career ends, that doesn't mean our vacations have to stop. It just means he'll finally be able to enjoy them with us.