Friday, April 8, 2011

When things go pear-shaped and you're 10 000 miles away....

When you get a text from your elderly mum on the other side of the world that begins "Try not to worry, but..." you just know that you ARE going to worry...lots.

My mum and dad are in their 70s.  They're a pretty intrepid couple, for years they've been heading off in little caravans or campers into the wilds of the outback, heading north for a few months nearly every year during winter, or making their way across the Nullabor to tootle on up the East coast of Australia.  I've never really worried about them because they've been doing it since I was a kid, when my brother and I used to go with them.  I guess you have to accept that one day your parents are actually elderly.

They've been planning the trip to the UK for quite a while.  Or rather, dad OVER plans, and then drives mum nuts to the point that she doesn't want to think about it anymore!  But they always work it out.  The problems this time were bigger than ever before though.  Dad is 76 in May, and 3 years ago he had open heart surgery.  He sailed through that and you wouldn't know it to see him now.  He's incredibly spry for his age!  But it means he's on medication that needs to be monitored.  They had all the check-ups and info and go ahead from doctors and specialists that it would be ok to travel though.  Then another health problem came up.  I won't go into details, but he's due to start radiation therapy in June, another reason why he so wanted to go on this trip now.  Then a few weeks before they were due to leave, he got Pneumonia and spent a few days in hospital.  I suppose we could have put the fear of God into him and forced him to rethink the whole trip, but maybe elderly parents are a bit like teenagers...at some point you have to let them go to follow their dreams.  And my dad is not the kind of man who can sit on the couch all day in front of the TV, even if it is much safer than holidaying overseas.

To cut a long story short, mum and dad found their first few days in London difficult.  They've been to Britain before, but it was 14 years ago, and they were 14 years younger but kind of forgot that bit.  So they took the tube from Heathrow into London and had to stand most of the way, also forgetting about the miles of stairs they'd have to negotiate with unwieldy suitcases with wheels.  So both were exhausted when they arrived at their hostel, and rather stressed out, and both came down with colds.  And mum's text this evening was to let me know that dad's cold is now flu-possible-pneumonia and he's in hospital.  They need to keep him under observation because they're giving him IV antibiotics and it will affect his other medication.  So mum tells me it's ok and they managed put the hire car booking off a couple of days, and they'll be in London for a bit longer and she's fine at the hostel for the moment and dad sounds ok on the phone...and I'M thinking maybe they should just COME HOME!  But I also know that they would both be so horribly disappointed, and dad would probably feel that it was his fault...sigh!

So I think she and I have agreed that the best thing to do, is once dad gets the OK from the hospital and is fit to leave, to pick up the hire car, head as far south (and warm) as possible (Cornwall maybe?), find a nice B&B in a nice little town, and just STAY (at least a couple of weeks).  Put their feet up and do NOTHING.  It won't be the holiday they intended (my GOD, you should have seen my dad's detailed itinerary...you'd need to be a fit 22 year old backpacker to fit it all in...and yes, I DID tell him so, several times!), but it will still be lovely.  A different kind of holiday where perhaps they can just experience life in a little English town, take in the changes in the season, get to know some locals, take a few gentle day trips, mum can do some sketching, to stop and smell the roses so to speak.  At least I'll know where they are at any given moment.  There's not a lot else I can do (I don't even have a valid passport anymore) apart from worry!  BIG *sigh*!

16 comments:

jinxxxygirl said...

Heres hoping all is well.

Lunar Hine said...

Send them to Chagford in Devon. We're nearly as southern as Cornwall (and so nearly as warm) and then I could meet up with them and send you unbiased reports about how they're REALLY doing.
And I'm generally all in favour of putting feet up - if only I would take my own advice!

A mermaid in the attic said...

Thanks Jinxxxygirl! Lunar, thank you for the lovely offer, I'm doing my best to do exactly that! They had Chagford in their itinerary (my suggestion!) and were actually supposed to be there today, possibly to stay a night. They were originally considering using Okehampton as a base to explore Devon, but Terri very helpfully sent me some info for them about B&Bs in Chagford and about Dartmoor in general, and that all looked so lovely, so there's a chance they might find their way there still. I'll be nervous until I know dad's been given the all clear, AND mum has convinced him to follow our plan, but it would be nice to know they were somewhere where they at least 'sort of' knew some people (even if by proxy!), and I had some way of 'keeping an eye on them' so to speak.

Oya's Daughter said...

Bless, I was going to say that Wiltshire is lovely as well, and I'm in Salisbury where we're currently having GORGEOUS weather. West Country would be good, and I'd offer to keep an eye on them as well if I was a bit more mobile myself but perhaps I could highlight some lovely points here which would be QUIET and calm - Avebury and Stonehenge, some of the stately homes and gardens are amazing for example and (though I wouldn't whisper too loudly about this) the National Trust has some scooters you can rent if the walking is a bit much as I do that myself.

A mermaid in the attic said...

Thank you Oya's Daughter! I'm hoping that if they can stay put somewhere and relax for a couple of weeks, then they might be able to carry on with a (much edited) version of the original itinerary, so I don't know how much they'll get to see. Thanks for the tip about scooters, I'll let them know, it might come in very handy!

Oya's Daughter said...

No worries: I was just at Kingston Lacy and the gardens are amazing! Scooters there as well (I got one of the first ones as I was the first there) http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-kingstonlacy

There's loads of stately homes in this area to visit and the weather is going to be gorgeous this week, very warm for a few more days before England realises it isn't the Med, so hope they can enjoy it! (if they spot a huge multiracial chick with red dreadlocks challenging them to a joust in a scooter, that's me, sorry, I can be a bit childish sometimes)

A mermaid in the attic said...

He he, OD, Dad would normally be up for a joust, I'm sure, but he might be feeling a little delicate! Red dreadlocks sound so very cool...I'm trying to decide whether almost 45 is a bit too um...middle-aged?...for dreadlocks. My other half reckons they'd suit me tho'!

Ren said...

O dear... what more can I say! Keeping fingers crossed that they will at least be able to enjoy the journey now that they are here. I agree with you, head south to Devon or Cornwall, its warm and sunny here. Hope all goes well and sending a hug because you must be worried sick xx Parents,... cant take them anywhere...!

A mermaid in the attic said...

Thanks Ren! Yes, I'm going to have a few more grey hairs I think. I just hope they can still have a nice holiday. It might even end up being better for just staying in a few places for longer, and really having time to enjoy. Just so long as Dad gets out of hospital soon and is well enough to travel, so that's what I'm crossing my fingers for now!

Goodness, it's the wee hours of the morning here, I really need to go to bed...and not worry myself sleepless!

Valerianna said...

Yikes, intense! Glad your Dad is doing OK... and has good help. I like the sound of a Cornwall vacation - and maybe a hop over to Dartmoor for a look at the daffodils! Healing blessings to all and a non-worry prayer for you.. and congratulations on winning Carrie's wonderful bird, I was psyched to read you won!

Lynn said...

I do hope that they find a place to settle for a while. A different kind of vacation, but possibly as interesting for them, in a different way. All the best to them - and to you.

Swan Artworks said...

Best wishes to your Dad Christina for a speedy recovery...
It's lovely to think that there's so many caring people on this here blogland so willing to try and look out for them. Friendly faces waiting to give them warm welcomes... It would be lovely if they were able to meet up with some wouldn't it...

Raven Moon Magic said...

wow this is another time when the blog world is just like a big family, look at all the help your getting, I so hope that the wheels get back on their broken little adventure bus. and being so far away is so frustrating. I send wishes of healing to your dad so they can get out of London, I tried to live there too, was planned for 2 years and I lasted 9 months, it was crazzzeeee, never have I felt like such an insignificant number, especially seeing as I come from a town where you know eveeryone.
The B&B holiday you dream of for them sounds like a dream, Ill go! but then my passport is invalid at the moment too! xxx love to mums and dads everywhere

xxx
sheree

WOL said...

Sending good vibes to your M & D and hopes for a speedy recovery.

earthangelsarts said...

Cornwall and Devon are magical places! I find just being by the ocean and spending time on the beaches are very healing. XX

Claire Massey said...

I'm sure they'll be able to have a magical and restful time in a beautiful little Cornish village. Really hope your Dad feels much better soon. x

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