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*!