Toronto

'Be bold, be brave': Toronto dad instills lesson from late wife into sons with trip around the world

Before she could show the world to her boys, Jane died of breast cancer. Her husband was determined to find a way to carry on her journey.

'She instilled a passion for life in me... And that’s what I tried to teach them on this trip'

From left, Jason Pearson and his two sons, Max and Sully, kicked off their 12-month journey around the world last August with stops in places such as Iceland and Laos. (Jason Pearson)

When Max and Sully Pearson set out on an adventure around the world with their father twelve months ago, Sully was sure to wear his mother Jane's shoes.

It was a trip that began as a way of honouring the boys' late mother, who travelled the world with her family when she was 10 years old. Before she could show the world to her boys, Jane died of breast cancer. Her husband was determined to find a way to carry on her journey.

Sully (left) and Max (right) Pearson pictured with their mother, Jane, before she died of breast cancer seven years ago. (Jason Pearson)

So Jason Pearson and his two sons, 8 and 11, embarked on the adventure on Aug. 7, 2015, returning to Toronto Wednesday with a lifetime of memories and a pair of nearly tattered shoes.

When Max and Sully Pearson set out on an adventure around the world with their father twelve months ago, Sully was sure to wear his mother Jane's shoes. (CBC)

"They're a little bit worse for wear," Sully said of the pink Crocs after the year-long adventure. "It's literally following her in her footsteps."

"Her shoes nearly fit me, which is pretty cool too because that means I'm growing."

Max was only around a year old when Jane died. For him, the trip was, in part, a way of seeing the world through his mother's eyes.

"Just looking at what she looked at… I know where she's been and it's just really good to be where she is," he told CBC News.

Jane (left) pictured with her family travelling the world in 1983 when she was just 10 years old. (Jason Pearson)

'Best year of my life'

The boys and their father visited 26 countries, blogging about their journey along the way. They began in Boston, touching down in Central America before heading to Southeast Asia with Myanmar among Sully's top spots.

From there, they spent several weeks in New Zealand before heading to Sri Lanka and India, where Max remembers the blaring horns on jam-packed roads. They were in the Philippines just three days before that country's historic elections, saw the Vatican city, and touched down in Greece, France, England and Iceland before heading back home.

Max (left), Jason and Sully (right) visited the Taj Mahal, one of the sites the boys' mother, Jane, said was among her favourites when she spoke to CBC Radio about her journey around the world in 1983. (Jason Pearson)

"It's probably the best year of my life, which is short, so only 12 years really," said Sully.

And while retracing their mother's steps was a major reason for the trip, it became the boys' very own adventure as time went on, said Jason, who switched careers to become a teacher and spend more time with his sons after their mother passed away.

Sully and Max at Australia's iconic Sydney Opera House. (Jason Pearson)

'A passion for life'

"They just got to see the world for how big it really is," said Jason. "I think their eyes were just really opened."

That's exactly what Jane would have wanted, he said.

"She instilled a passion for life in me, a willingness to take risks, be bold, be brave… And that's what I tried to teach them on this trip," Jason said.

Jason Pearson and wife, Jane, along with sons Sully (right) and Max (left) before the boys' mother died of breast cancer seven years ago. (Jason Pearson)

'Until they don't fit me anymore'

As for Jane's pink Crocs, they look a bit bare after the four-leaf clover she'd pinned was lost along the way, Sully said. But he intends to take them with him to camp later this summer, where his mother was once a counsellor.

"I'm going to keep wearing them until they don't fit me anymore," he said.

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