Calmer Days With A Bit Of Darkness

With the hectic month of May behind us, Nat and I settled back into our usual routines. His 3 golfs games a week were a welcome relief despite a few scorchy hot days that zapped his energy and reduced his handicap. We also had the air-conditioner repaired and as it is still under warranty, our bank account took a big sigh of relief. Apparently that bloody little mouse did a bit of damage before executing himself. I repeat, Idiot!!

We did our usual quarterly run to Costco for groceries and refilled the freezer with summer BBQ treats we don’t normally buy in the winter months. It will be nice to have a good juicy steak before July and my dental surgery, despite the fact it takes me twice as long to chew anything substantial right now. I love steak and will enjoy it come what may!

As the Provincial election heated up after our return from Britain, Nat and I became even more confused who to vote for. We politely mulled things over, discussed the pros and cons and had no favouritism for any of the leaders and, truth be told, didn’t want any of them in power. We had missed the early voting with running around getting summer chores done, a couple medical appointments and even baking a few items, so we headed down to the voting station on the final day and cast our ballots. We never discuss who voted for whom as we both have different philosphies and thoughts about each party and their leader. We were, however, really impressed with the new voting machines. Quick and easy once we made it through the long line up at the door.

I went to bed at my usual time on Election Day and along with the Stanley Cup game between Washington and Las Vegas that same evening, my mind kept busy wondering who would win the election and the hockey game. I had secretly hoped that Las Vegas would win it, being their first year together as a team and it would certainly make the records books, and Alex Ovechekin is not one of my favourite players. Everytime he’s on the ice I see him playing like a bully, hitting and undercutting the opposing team as if he was some sort of God. Despite my feelings, dear hubby convinced me to root for Washington, only because if Las Vegas won the Cup there would be no living with any of the players or team management. Egos would be flying everywhere. Plus Ovechekin and his Washington Redskins have been playing for eons, is one of the elder statesment of hockey and has never won a Cup at all. Hubby felt it was about time they had their day. I ended up agreeing.

As I was starting to float into “LaLa Land” hubby came to bed and gave me the news. Washington had finally won the Stanley Cup. Good on them as from what I saw before bed time, they were fighting the good fight and were ahead in goals. My only thought now was what Provincial party would be our esteemed leader come the next day. No matter what, I surmised, the next four years are going to be either tumultuous, weird or taxing!!!!

Awakening to a new day and a quiet day from my point of view, it was soon revealed by hubby that Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives had won a majority in Parliament. Like I surmised the night before – the next four years are going to be tumultuous. Don’t really trust Mr. Ford from his previous days in local politics, but time will tell.

It was also that morning as I was reading my Twitter feed, Anthony Bourdain had passed away in his hotel room n Paris. As with the rest of the world, I was dumbfounded. He had such a strong presence on his Parts Unknown series, which I followed devoutly, along with other shows he had done. Strong, rugged good looks, intelligent and daring to try anything once, he came across as a very confident man knowing his true self. However, as with all things human, we all have our demons, and Mr. Bourdain had succumbed to his. We’ll all miss you dearly.

This Tuesday sees me having lunch with sister, Michele. Looking forward to hearing what’s new and going on. Have not seen any family members since our return from Britain and I miss seeing any one of them. We were, however, blessed with a visit from Laura and dog, Zoe, this past Sunday. I was actually very good in my attitude and was even taken aback when we received a few compliments on our kitchen. I’ll take whatever I can get and went on with the visit as if we in good graces with each other. It was then that we also presented her with the ring we picked out from Jenny’s jewelery box. Susan had received her’s earlier and succumbed to tears just thinking about the wonderful gester from Jenny’s family. The ring looked good on Laura’s finger and I told her so. Unlike Susan, Laura may wear her ring on special occasions, where Susan is putting her’s away for inheritance sake. I’m proud of both girls and how they’re treating their gifts. It seems so long ago now that Nat and I were in Britain and if it wasn’t for Instagram and Twitter Jenny’s family would soon become a distant memory, but at least now we can keep up with postings, pictures and other shenanigans. I truly love it.

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Saying Goodbye To Those You Don’t Want to Leave – Part VI

May15th – 16th

Monday night/Tuesday morning Nat and I were both in and out of sleep. Being self-conscious of the time and wondering if we had set Jenny’s bedside clock alarm right, we were paranoid about being late. Young Nat was picking us up at 4:00 am to drive us to Newcastle Airport. Having literally thrown everything in our check-in luggage, we only had to pack our toiletries and we were off and running.

Young Nat, having travelled just as many miles as an astronaut in his career, could walk through this airport blind-folded. Once we arrived at the check-in gate, Young Nat pointed out a Newcastle United Football player, Jamaal Lascelles (former captain in 2016) walking by with his wife. I was in awe, having never seen a real life professional footballer. I may be a Cristiano Ronaldo fan, but I’m also a lover of Newcastle United and even Manchester United.  Getting back to business, Nat and I were soon informed that we would have to transfer to Gatwick Airport once we arrived at Heathrow. Dumbfounded, we had no idea. If we were told by our travel agent, we had long forgotten. Young Nat looked a bit worried for us, as he could no longer be of assistance, so we said our goodbyes as he watched us walking hand-in-hand off into the abyss!!

The flight to Heathrow was short and sweet, but then the bloody aggravation began. We had no idea where to go to catch our transfer and even with a 3 hour layover we managed to use that time completely by just getting to where we were to go. We had no idea that the small square piece of paper stapled to our ticket was actually the British Airways Transfer ticket we were to use for the bus. Oblivious to it all, we wandered around the airport asking anyone that would walk by where the transfer buses were to Gatwick. Very surprising to find out not too many people even knew there was an area where buses and taxies lined up to take you somewhere. Finally, an intelligent woman, along with following a few “Arrival Transfer” signs hanging above us, we found where the buses at least came through for pick-ups. We, however, just didn’t have a ticket (despite the fact it was in my purse all along)!!

So exhausted, frustrated and barely dangling by a thread, we both said “to hell with it” and purchased a National Express transfer ticket for 54.00 Pounds. Now getting really anxious, our bus finally arrived and we were whisked away to Gatwick for (what were the odds) another adventure.

We’re now walking through Gatwick Airport, for what seemed to be miles, to get to our gate, of which we did not know the number yet. It had not been posted on our tickets. We checked the Gate board and were informed the number would be posted around 11:00 am. Our flight was leaving by 1:00 pm. Waiting and waiting, constantly checking the board, no number was being posted even though it was now past 11:00. We had  no idea what was going on, when Nat asked someone and with luck he told us it had been posted, that we somehow missed it, and with the number in hand, we made a bee-line to get ready for boarding. My heart ached for Nat, worried about missing the plane, trying to slow down a pace to keep an eye on old miss cripple walking behind, he witheld his frustration. Finally arriving at the gate, no one was there. God almighty, please tell us we didn’t miss the plane!!!!!  No, thank God, we hadn’t. The attendant told us we had a half-hour at least. Then suddenly other passengers came literally running in, thinking the same thing we were. Having no idea what was going on, British Airways had somehow managed to confuse a plane full of passengers now in the departure lounge.

At last, finally, we were boarded and sitting in our seats. With no one beside us, we felt we would have a private time flying home. We were informed that several passengers were missing and with that a head count was now being taken. We soon found out – about an hour while sitting on the tarmac – that their flight from Florida had been delayed and we had to wait until they, too, were boarded. We were still lucky as none of the missing passengers were slated to sit in the empty seat beside us.

We were ecstatic to get into the air and looked forward to another boring flight only because we were so tired and knew this would not be the time to get any sleep at all. The meal was soon served (Chicken with Chirizo and soggy chips) which, naturally, I turned my nose up to. Nat tried some just to fill a small void. We then watched a little TV – very old American shows – but were soon put off so we gave up and tried to sit quietly in our seats. Somehow, someway we both fell asleep long enough that when I finally woke up, the rest of the passengers were licking away on Ice Cream Bars – big, fat ones covered in chocolate. Somehow it seemed right as nothing was going our way that day no matter how we tried.

At long last landing on Canadian soil, we had no choice but to gather up as much energy as we could to make that bloody long trek to the baggage claim, customs and  Niagara Airbus pick-up area. Another extremely long walk, winding in and out of the line control areas to get to customs area. Not having travelled in over 7-8 years, some changes had been made and unbeknownst to us, a lot had been computerized. Getting close to where we had to “check-in” on one of a dozen computer screens lined up along the wall with our passport, fill out the Landing Declaration and get a receipt, we soon became even more confused. I was able to follow the instructions, for the two of us, but not realizing that once I completed my turn, I was to have Nat follow, as we would end up with one receipt. Trying to figure things out, along came a snotty-nosed, arrogant and very angry attentant to help us. Not saying a thing but looking at Nat and repeatedly saying “Put it there!!”, “Put it there!!”, Put it there!!, “Put it there!!!”  pointing to the screen and tapping her little stubby fingers on the passport screen for Nat’s passport which had to be scanned. Nat was ready to deck her, but the poor man could hardly lift his arms. Don’t ask, but we managed to get through the whole process, as we began another long trek to the Airbus area where we crashed until our driver arrived.

We were picked up for our last ride home on any kind of airplane, bus or vehicle, and arrived at our doorstep early evening. By way of coincidence we had a retired RCMPer drive us home. I was wearing an RCMP t-shirt I bought while in Regina so he asked me about. Nice man!!!

Walking in the door, Nat and I literally dropped our suitcases and went straight to bed. Only being 8:00 pm, we didn’t give a damn. Nat stayed up long enough to text Susan and Laura to let them know we were home and didn’t want to be disturbed until morning.

We have never felt such exhaustion in our whole lives. Our spirits had been broken. I felt like I had Fibomyalgia (like dear sister, Gail), bent over and walking as if I lost my cane and walker, my whole back wanted to cave in and drop to the floor for a thousand nights. We admitted we were becoming a bit old to travel like that any longer. Nat felt the same way only his legs are in better shape. Those large airports are beyond our capacity to walk through and any time differences in travel would take us twice as long now to get over.

After almost 12 hours of sleep, we awoke Wednesday morning still a tad tired. I got organized – throwing a whole suitcase of clothes in the laundry, getting our meds and toiletries back in order. Nat (believe it or not) went to his usual Wednesday golf league while I stayed home and got caught up with paperwork, bills, etc.

It was later that night, it dawned on Nat, he should have stayed home from his golf. He couldn’t keep his eyes open while eating pizza for supper nor for the entire evening. He finally realized it was going to take several more days for us to get back to where we were before we left. Life was now going too fast for us!!

Saying Goodbye To Those You Don’t Want to Leave – Part V

May 14th

Our last day had arrived just as we were getting somewhat settled in. Nat and I got a little sleep and as I wobbled downstairs to greet hubby, he was lying on Jenny’s “lift recliner chair” contemplating. By mid-morning we were pleasantly surprised to see Vicki, with her son, Michael, and twins, Gracie and Isla and their Aunt Adele. The twins were all decked out in their sweet little dresses and hair tied up with a big white pearl-dotted bow. Cute as the pearl buttons in their bows. It was a real treat to see Adele again. She had accompanied Jenny on her first trip to Canada and endeared herself to me right away with her wise cracks and wry sense of humour. We were also thrilled to see her sister, Vicki, as we did not see much of her on our last trip.

These were two of Big Robert’s three girls and another pair of beautiful women. They, too, had not aged a day, even after having their children. We were having a few laughs when Natalie called to invite us over to her home for tea around 1:00 pm that afternoon. We were finally going to get to see their new newly built home in Morpeth, just down the road from Bedlington where the rest of Jenny’s family had homes.

We said our final goodbyes to Vicki, Adele and the children, and were shortly picked-up by Nat. Driving through the big rod-iron gates we were both awe struck at the size of their 3-story home set back from the road and with a large semi-circle drive. We noticed other cars parked around the drive, along with Grace’s 18th birthday gift Mini – what I wouldn’t have given to drive that little cutie!!

We walked through the huge wooden double doors and were soon greeted by most of Jenny’s children and grandchildren that could make it. Fabulous surprise as Nat and I grinned from ear to ear to see them all. Yvonne, Sharon, her husband Alan, her son, Michael, Nat, Natalie, son Matthew and daughter, Grace, her boyfriend, Big Robert’s daughter, Lisia, and forgive me if I’ve forgotten anyone. We were so overwhelmed as we all gathered around the island in the kitchen being passed a glass of wine or whatever else we wanted to drink. We chatted away and were soon taken on a tour by Natalie of their grandiose home that took their blood, sweat and tears to get built. We could see Natalie’s graceful and elegant touches throughout with the decor and design. We were, however, informed that her hubby Nat picked out those gorgeous wooden doors with squares engraved throughout, while Natalie picked out the 3-storey high Chandelier that hung from the roof rafters, falling down in tapered tiers to be the main event once you walked through the main double doors. Vicki’s (niece to Nat) husband, Michael, volunteered to install the Chandelier, being a professional electrician and took him up to 3 days to install. Along with hanging from the rafters each beaded string had to be individually hung, of which there were hundreds!! Mr. Middlemas we each have a deep respect for your talents!!!

As we toured each room – the TV viewing room with attached semi-circle recliner chairs, the pool room (3rd Floor), the kids bedrooms, their parents’ bedroom, to die-for bathrooms (2nd Floor), two downstairs living rooms with fireplaces, a kitchen you could dance in with built-ins and island, large viewing windows to enjoy the surrounding view and finally a paved patio with barbecue. Yvonne and I were in awe and jealous as we could be. We agreed that Jenny’s Nat had worked all of his life to accomplish this, from his constant studying as a young teen, to his higher education and working his way up the technical/computer ladder in various jobs trying to increase his salary to achieve the dream he had worked so hard for. His son, Matthew, is just as intelligent and is looking to achieve his dream in film and cinematography. He’s also working as hard as his father and has been blessed with a trip to Los Angeles in June to take a course with the pros.

Being different as day and night, his sister, Grace, as beautiful as her Mom, has become a fashion icon. What I wouldn’t give to have her closet as a young teenager. Her shoes are to die for, her clothes and bags look like they came from the pages of Vogue (stylish, chic, tasteful). She, too, works hard at her job to earn her way through this world. Plus she’ll be the first to admit that she and Matthew have been spoiled, but I’ll be the first to tell you that they don’t flaunt it. I also respect each child’s close relationship to their mom and dad.

After the tour we were treated to a really nice luncheon of sliced deli meats, corned beef pies, salad and rolls, along with an assortment of desserts. As everyone made up their lunches we soon all sat around the kitchen enjoying each others’ company. With perfect weather outside, we meandered to the back patio and enjoyed the sunshine. More great laughs and stories.

This is when the family told us of their mother’s surprise final gesture. As Jenny had planned her entire funeral arrangements after her husband, Robert, died, she set aside some time and wrote each of her 5 children a letter. Jenny was never a woman to brag, boast or express her personal emotions but just a down-to-earth woman that raised her family to the best of her ability. As one final gesture on this earth, she surprised her children by writing a letter to each one to thank and praise them for all of their love, adoration, achievements in life, family and help throughout the years. Each one was gobsmacked and never saw this coming. Just proves when you think you know someone, including family, you really don’t. Her funeral won’t be until 2 weeks later and rest assured each child will read their mother’s letters in quiet solitude reflecting family memories forever. One of the best legacies I’ve ever heard of. God Bless Jenny – she had the last word.

With a beautiful afternoon slipping away, Sharon drove us home and a few hours later, Vicki picked us up for another fish ‘n chip meal. She had stated earlier she wanted to do this and we were whisked away to our popular restaurant in Blythe. When we arrived we were tickled to death that hubby, Michael, their 3 children, and young Robert’s daughter, Paris, were joining us. What a great way to get to know Michael (another gorgeous man and whom we’ve only seen once before) and their gorgeous children. Young Robert’s, Paris, was quiet as a mouse and Vicki and Michael were wondering if she was feeling okay.

We gave our orders and Vicki, being Vicki, decided to get cheeky. Being a “chocoholic” like me, she was insistent that we finish the meal with ice cream. Nat and I were so full, only finishing half of our meals, we insisted no ice cream. She tried to chide me by asking what’s your favourite flavour, but I didn’t bite. Thinking we had convinced her, away she went with the children and shortly came back with a cone each for Nat and myself. At least it was only a single, She gave Nat a Vanilla cone and me a Chocolate Chip (she knew there had to be chocolate in their somewhere).

We had such a wonderful time and were sorry we had to leave. Michael had driven off with the children, and to drop off Paris at her father’s. As we were driving home, young Robert called on Vicki’s car phone looking for a piece of clothing for Paris. This was our only chance to say Hi to Robert and tell him we missed seeing him. Arriving home we said our goodbyes and waddled through the front door fat and happy from our day out and couldn’t thank Vicki and Michael enough for their generosity.

Later that evening Michael, Jason, Susan and Lucie dropped in. We were informed by Michael and earlier by Yvonne, that Jenny’s family agreed Nat should take home anything he wanted as a memory of his sister, whether an item from the house or photos. Nat was dumbfounded and had absolutely no idea. He wanted for nothing and struggled to think of a thing. As we were talking Michael suddenly returned from upstairs carrying a small jewel case of Jenny’s. Again, he was so undecided, but when I saw a few of her rings – nothing expensive – I told Nat to pick out two he thought Susan and Laura would like. Done. He was satisfied and happy that his girls would also have a memory of their Aunt Jenny.

We soon found ourselves surrounded by a few photo albums, of which Jenny had plenty of stacked upstairs. Jason and Lucie were enthralled with the olden, golden goodies along with the stories his Dad and Nat would tell him. It didn’t take long before the 3 adults began to reminisce, while my Nat picked out a few pictures to take home to add to his family memories. With the subjects going back and forth, I suddenly found myself telling Susan how Nat and I met. She had never known the story and (bless her) was fascinated. We didn’t want them to go, but alas we had to catch a 4:00 am pick up by Nat E. for our flight at 6:00 pm.

The shortest, saddest and yet memorable trip we had ever been on. We miss gathering around with this family to this day. At least with social media we’ll be able to keep in touch with some of the adults and certainly a lot of the grandchildren. Plus I can’t wait to write some letters to Yvonne. Thank-you everyone from the bottom of our hearts.

…. and yet, still to be continued …. last one???

Saying Goodbye To Those You Don’t Want To Leave – Part IV

May 12th and 13th

Finally! A good nights sleep. We both managed to get at least 9 hours which was enough to get us through the day. We were up around 6:30 am, got some toast and tea. Sitting quietly enjoying the stillness of the morning when Natalie had called by 10:30 to go for a few groceries and on to the hospital to see Jenny.

It felt good, for some reason, to be back at an ASDA store now (much to our chagrin) owned by that American octopus, Walmart. Shopping with Nat, however, made it just a bit difficult. My only chance to have a look around at all of the British goodies, but alas we were there only for a few essentials to get us by for the next few days – chicken, English bacon, one potato, cereal, small pack of Sprite, etc. Natalie and her look-alike daughter, Grace, were already finished with their pick-ups and waited patiently for us by the door.

Back on the road to the hospital. Grace and I sat in the back seat and I, again, was in shock at how much she had grown, too. The last time we saw her and brother, Matthew, was at our going home party about 7-8 years ago. We had all gathered in a party room at the local pub, ate, drank and made merry with Jenny’s entire family. Such great memories, such fun. Grace at that time was a pre-teen beauty with long blonde locks of hair, all dressed in her red matching pants and top. Matthew was an adorable blonde-haired boy going along with the other youngsters in the room wondering who the hell were these old folks from Canada.

Arriving at the hospital, Jenny was still sleeping. More of the family were there. Seeing them all was wonderful and it didn’t take long before we all began to chat about various things. It was nice to see two of big Robert’s girls, Leah and Adele, and Yvonne’s daughter, young Yvonne. Like the rest of the Edington family, they were gorgeousw as ever. There was one brother missing, young Robert, whom I’ve seen on Instagram and has grown up to become a very handsome man, along with his adorable daughter, Paris. It was during that morning visit, I tapped (my) Nat on the shoulder to remind him we had to go for fish ‘n chips. I was NOT leaving Britain without at least one meal. How, I wasn’t sure.

As everyone mulled around Jenny’s bedside, coming and going from her room to leave room for the next shift arriving, Jenny’s sons, Nat and Michael, hatched a plan to take the two of us for that fish ‘n chip meal at lunch time. (I really did not mean for them to hear, honestly!!)

Within the hour the four of us were headed out to the best Fish ‘N Chip/Ice Cream restaurant along the coast of Blythe. Natalie had taken us there on our last trip and were awe struck at how fabulous our meals were, including the over 12 flavours of ice cream. Hubby and I ordered the Haddock fish and the boys ordered their dishes, with Michael ordering from the children’s menu. This smart man likes to eat smaller portions of food at different times throughout the day, which keeps him less sluggish and makes it easier to get on with his routine. He’s actually doing the right thing.

The portions were humungous but looking oh, so delicious with those chips cut large and fried to light golden perfection. At our age it was very difficult to eat even half of that portion of fish, but I managed until I felt like dropping. I had craved this meal for years. Hubby made a damn good stab at his plate, too. Michael, however, ate his entire (kids’) portion, leaving nothing but one small wee chip. It goes without saying the poor chap received a bit of flack from baby brother about not finishing his meal. It also goes without saying, older brother snapped back in defence. With that, the two brothers suddenly broke into their younger selves joking back and forth, laughing and giggling as if they were youngsters again. Hubby and I were being entertained and were glad to see the two boys release some stress and tension from the events of the past several weeks.

The boys then talked us into double cones of ice cream that always came with either a crunchy biscuit or chocolate “Flake” – a short round chocolate stick that flaked all over you when you bit into it and melted in your mouth in oh such goodness. We all headed back to the hospital feeling so relaxed and easy going. Hubby and I could never thank Nat and Michael enough for that surprise and selfless gesture.

Once back to see Jenny, my Nat was able to meet Jenny’s brother-in-law whom he had not seen in over 40 years. This time Sharon’s lad, John, was there. Another grandson grown up to where I didn’t even recognize,. I was embarrassed. Only an extremely quiet young boy when we had last met sticking close to his mom staring at the strangers in his gran’s house.

We were soon driven home to be picked up again by 7:00 pm. We stayed for an hour but this time we noticed Jenny was now breathing harder. Some of her girls were staying the night in the next room the nurses had fixed up for them. Nat and I could see the strain and worry on their faces and we felt helpless. We were then driven home with another day now at a close.

Just as we were both heading into a deep sleep, the phone rang at 12:45 am (Sunday am), jolting us up. Nat reached over and answered pretty much knowing what the news was. He was right. Jenny had passed. Michael’s son, Jason, would be coming by to pick us up to head back to hospital.

Most family members (excluding young children) were holding vigil as Jenny lay peacefully in bed. Suddenly, I had to leave the room and have my good cry. I loved Jenny, she was my pen-pal and listened to all of my tales of woe, happiness and just plain bitching. She never wrote back as Nat would call her every couple of weeks to get caught up on family news, but she loved getting my letters and I loved her for allowing me to write. During our visits at her home, whenever Nat was out with her late husband, Robert, or anytime we were alone, we would chat about family matters. She was so enlightening in her stories of my Nat and his younger years. Hubby is not one to express his personal feelings, but Jenny at least answered my questions and made me understand her baby brother, his two daughters, their relationship with each other since their mother’s passing, and his previous life. I regretted so much that she lived too far away for get-togethers. Bless Jenny’s first born, Yvonne. She would read my letters, and later announced that I could continue to write to her. She’s not a computer whiz like her children but still enjoys a good letter. I love her so much for that, and trust me, she’ll get letters. I never want to lose touch with any of Jenny’s family.

Once back home we headed straight to our bed and tried our best to sleep. Our heads were now swirling.

Later that morning after an unsettling sleep, we were up hoping for a somewhat quiet day. Natalie called to see if we needed anything. We couldn’t believe how attentive Natalie was. She had been driving us back and forth between Jenny’s house and hospital, grocery shopping and was willing to take us anywhere we needed to go. Always keeping her composure, being the strong one, along with her loving husband Nat, taking care of anything required. She’s had her medical issues, too, in the past and still remained calm and loving. Still looking like she was in her 30’s, she hadn’t aged a day. Always the young girl that we first met going on a double date with young Nat, Susan and Michael, while Jenny was living in the trailer.

Our quiet morning soon came to a close. The first of Jenny’s large family arrived were Sharon, Michael, Nat and Robert (Jenny’s children minus one). We were pleased to see them and they brought us up-to-date on what was happening. This would probably be the last time we would talk to the four of Jenny’s children in the same room. Each had their own lives, their own businesses and would try to get on with the rest of their lives now without their mother. We both knew that Michael and Yvonne would have a rough patch getting back to normalcy. Each and everyday Michael would drop by his mom’s, organize her medicines, attend to her needs, do any running around, attend to financial matters, any mail she received and kept his Mom company as long as his day would allow, after all he had his own to attend to. Yvonne would drop by later, probably taking over where Michael left off. They both have families and lives of their own, but Jenny raised very unselfish children.  Her five children had no idea about what was soon to come. God Bless Jenny – she left the best for last.

Shortly after the kids left, we were visited by Big Terry and Yvonne, and young Yvonne. Big Terry is still working diligently in the antique/older furniture business. His trips to Europe, especially Belgium and France still continued despite his age. He soldiers on as best he can taking care of his own family. Yvonne, as stated earlier would always see to her Mom’s needs during the day. Their two children young Terry and young Yvonne were busy with their own families and Mom and Dad were now empty-nesters. Young Yvonne is still another young women who has not aged a day and still gorgeous and fun loving as when we last saw her.

After getting big Terry’s famous bear hug (I love ’em) they were away and we were left with a lull. Not wanting a big meal we decided to maneuver around Jenny’s kitchen to cook up some of the chicken we bought. It was obvious Jenny had had an extremely difficult time while she was ill at home. Her hospital bed was placed along the back wall under what use to be her dining room window, with a small chair being used as a bed-side table. Her family had bought a proper table for her to use, but she would have nothing to do with it. The kids had also purchased a medicine cabinet to place on the wall in order to keep the enormous amount of prescription medicines, vitamins, etc. off the small dinning table standing beside her bed. Again, another no go. Jenny was adamant that things were just fine the way they were. Now I know where my hubby gets his stubbornness. Their Mom was the same.

With some bobbing, weaving and opening of cabinets and drawers, we soon found the fry pan and pot (behind the dish detergent) for our chicken and cut-up potato. As per our habit at home we like to pound the chicken into a cutlet, throw a few Panko crumbs on and then saute on the top of the stove. Not being “that” hungry, we only used one breast between the two of us and had to improvise on how to pound the chicken down to the size of a cutlet. Suddenly a can of beans became our weapon of choice not knowing that you can literally dent a can of beans with a chicken breast. (Sorry, kids, but whoever cleans out Jenny’s food supply and wonders why there’s a can of dented beans, you’ll know it was us!!)

Now deciding to grill the chicken cutlet rather than sauteeing, we managed to get it done to half-decent perfection and along with our one boiled potato, we were good to go. We cleared a little corner for ourselves on the small table sitting with the “bed-side chair” and Jenny’s bed, to eat our small meal. Must admit for improvisation, we did pretty good.

Just as we were cleaning up, in popped young Terry and wife, Emma. Despite our meager meal, we were complimented that it at least smelt good!! Again I repeat myself, young Terry had not changed a bit, only more mature and a bit more bulked up and taller. The two didn’t stay that long, but we were glad to have a great talk getting caught up with their adventures, taking care of his two children and that their entire family were “Disney-olics”, along with licence plates. Their faithful to say the least.

Thinking the day had ended, we were soon gifted with another nice surprise visit. Michael’s oldest, Jason, his girlfriend, Lucie, Sharon’s son, Michael and his girlfriend, Emma, dropped by. What four young kids drop by to visit a couple of seniors on a Sunday night? These two young men were a joy to see as were their girlfriends, who, believe it or not, also wanted to meet us. A great visit as Jason and I joked about how I mistook him for calling me a “carrot” on social media. Long, but cute story, Jason soon advised he was giving me a compliment. His father apparently also appreciated the joke and didn’t hesitate to spread it around the family. Somehow I truly felt like I was welcomed into Jenny’s family, along with their Uncle Nat despite their loss. My heart was swelling as we continued our wonderful Sunday evening. We both love Jenny’s family so much.

Sunday had now been filled with memories of times gone by and Nat and I grinned at each other not believing how wonderful this day had become. We watched a little television – American shows, such as “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace”- then headed to bed by 10:00 totally exhausted. We were still coming to terms with what was happening and all at once. Hopefully off to lullaby land ASAP.

Saying Goodbye To Someone You Don’t Want to Leave – Part III

The flight to London Heathrow was so bloody long and boring, and naturally, the lower class schmucks in the back were packed in like sardines!! As we were boarding Nat and I noticed what section the upgrade (Premium) would be like. Nice!! Each individual sat in a little half-oval pod where you could physically lay back, put your feet up and watch telly as you whiled away the hours. Another lesson learned and never to be repeated.

Nat and I tried our best to relax and get comfy with the room we had. Soon after midnight we were served a meal – Chicken Marsala (chicken, marsala sauce, rice). Yuk for me, but Nat ate it. The dessert was even worse – some sort of layered bars, along with a pudding of some sort. I just know it didn’t wiggle when I pressed the top!! It ended up with me eating the dry bun with (not enough) butter. I suppose I was a bit taken aback being served a meal like that at midnight (EST). As I really wasn’t hungry, I tried to push that meal tray away from on that bloody little seat tray. Just a country bumpkin that doesn’t appreciate good (cough, cough) food when it’s put in front of you. Shame on me!!

With the meal trays finally taken away, Nat and I tried to get a little sleep. We both tried to place the small flat airplane pillows behind our heads every which way but inside out and upside down. Couldn’t get a good placement no matter how we tried. So, we just sat there staring into the abyss for quite some time. At one point I tried to hook up my iPad to the Airplane’s WIFI. Another bloody ruse. You have to subscribe to British Airways in order to get connected. I gave up, so I played a couple of games I had previously down-loaded from home which did not require an internet connection, but soon got bored. The plane kept bobbing and weaving with the air turbulence and my stylus would bob and weave at the same time thus making me hit the wrong icons. It was now becoming apparent this was really going to be a long ride.

At long last, began our descent into Heathrow. Once in the airport we followed the crowd trying to keep up as everyone headed for the baggage claim and customs. Another massive walk, including a ride via mini subway car to the other end of the airport. That’s how massive this airport is – one of the largest in the world. I was ready to drop from total exhaustion. My legs were aching from hip to toe, with both feet swelling up with each step I took. (Found out later your feet can swell from cabin pressure and high altitude).

Despite a 2 hour layover, it took us that long to get through the airport, customs, and find where we were to catch our flight to Newcastle. Geez, if it didn’t involve another bloody walk!! With help from others – we had long lost the crowd we were following by now – we soon found where we were to board for the transfer with no time to spare.  Finally now seated on the smaller BA plane  we were even more exhausted. The trip was around 45 minutes which wasn’t that bad.

Landing at Newcastle Airport, at last, we found the luggage pick-up area quickly enough, but we had to ask an attendant, “Which one was the flight from London?” To which he responded “There’s only 2”. Bloody smart ass!! Could he not see my body draped forward as if I were The Hunchback of Notre Dame, along with the bags under Nat’s eyes and frustrated look on this face?? He’s bad for British tourism.

There is where I have to explain to some Canadians that don’t understand the naming system in Scotland. Jenny had 5 children – Yvonne, Robert, Michael, Sharon, Nat. Having said that some of them named their children after one of the parents – eg. Yvonne has a daughter, Yvonne, and a son, Terry (named after his father, Terry); and Robert has a son named Robert. Michael, Sharon and Nat bucked the system!! So when I mention one of the children of Jenny, I’ll refer to them as “Big” – no insulted intended as they’re all in good shape. Then when I refer to one of the children of the same name, I’ll refer to them as “Young”. Trust me, this will make it so much easier to understand.

Having arrived and picked up our baggage, we were out the doors to be greeted by Nat’s beautiful wife, Natalie. It had now been 2 days without a good meal and any sleep. Natalie was however a wonderful sight for very tired eyes. She drove us straight to the hospital (it was now somewhere around 3:00 PM UK – 5 hours ahead of Canada). Poor Natalie had to put up with two old fogies who were dragging their asses and trying to keep up as best we could. Naturally, loving husband was doing so much better, but I put my best efforts into it. In my defence, it was another long walk, including a flight up, to get to Jenny’s room.

As we walked into Jenny’s ward quite a few of the family were there – Sharon, her husband, Alan, Nat’s nephew, Nat, Natalie, Sharmaine, etc. With other patients in the same room it was difficult for Jenny’s family to gather around, but we found a seat alongside Jenny’s bed which was nice. (The family had a request in for a private room, later that day).

We were taken aback somewhat as we had not seen her in over 7-8 years. She was so doped up on morphine and pain killers, she was totally confused and mumbling about going home, along with other hallucinations she was having. Her cancer had spread from her lungs to her liver, she now also had half a lung collapse, along with a chest infection which was being treated with one of the best antibiotics in the UK. Her entire body was black and blue from needle jabs, morphine drips and side effects. She looked like she had been kicked around in an alley. I began to get choked up. I could feel the tears coming as I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. We were told she had been more lucid earlier on, including one time mumbling to Sharon – “You’ve got your work cut out for you” – meaning clearing out her house once she passed. Clever Jenny, she knew exactly what was happening. She had previously expressed to her brother Nat that she was ready to go a few months back, so we both knew exactly what she was thinking. She, too, was just playing the waiting game.

After an hour or so, Natalie drove us back to Jenny’s home so we could get unpacked and settled in the best we could. As we arrived Sharon’s daughter, Sharmaine, pulled up with her son, Jayden, in her arms. That adorable little blond haired boy had asked her mom if he could meet us. Still in his school uniform, he gave a small grin as I expressed my love of his dancing videos his mom had posted on Instagram. He was so full of energy and cute as a button. I told him I looked forward to seeing more. With that they were off and running.

Natalie said she would pick us up again around 7:00 pm to go back to hospital. Despite our complete exhaustion, we managed to lay our suitcases in Jenny’s spare room, open them up and then headed downstairs to make ourselves a snack while we sat in front of the TV too tired to turn it on or even talk.

Later that evening when back at the hospital, another shift of family members had arrived, including Nat and Natalie’s youngest boy, Matthew. My God how he had grown and looking just like his dad. I love this young man for his good looks, his intelligence, kindness, selflessness and photography which he is now studying. (With a wonderful chance to go to Los Angeles for a month on a special course!!) I follow him and his sister, Grace, on Instagram with each child completely posting on polar opposites of the world. They both make me laugh and smile at their antics.

Jenny had now been moved to a private room and was sleeping from still being doped up. Her breathing was hard and once her Doctor came in she took Nat, Michael, and my Nat into the hallway where they could discuss in private Jenny’s future treatment. She was going to be taken off the antibiotic (it was no longer working) and she’ll then be reassessed after that. I’m so glad we were there so my Nat could be included in the discussion and understand exactly what was going on with his only Sister.

My heart broke when I saw Michael’s wife, Susan. She was really broken up and since Nat and I both adore her, it was difficult to see her hurting. She’s beautiful (stunning, actually), funny and has two fabulous boys, Jason and Bradley. These are the two boys who presented us with a crystal clock with their names inscribed on the back, while on one of our past trips and while still in grade school. I cherish that clock today as it sits proudly on our living room shelf beside a picture of their Gran and Uncle Nat. Shock had now set in as soon as I saw Jason, so grown up, very tasteful beard along his jaw and still as sweet and loving as when I first met him. Always smiling, always helpful. For some reason I feel very connected to him, with his dry sense of humour (like his Dad’s) and his love of cars and trailers. His younger brother, Bradley, is still a very shy young man and stayed home but we were hoping we would see him later on.

Natalie drove us home and we were able to get settled in for a short evening. We were both in bed by 9:00 pm, which is highly unusual for dear hubby who only sleeps about 5 hours and usually waits until midnight to retire. Apparently Natalie, along with Sharon and Lisia, stocked Jenny’s house for us with some essentials – milk, bread, etc. and made up Jenny’s bed with fresh linens and towels. We were overwhelmed by their kindness and forethought. Now we would at least have something to munch on whenever we awoke from our long, long awaited sleep.

….and yet, still to be continued …

Saying Goodbye – Part II

May 10th

Thursday morning arrived. We both had to pack last minute items before being picked up by the Air Bus at 2:00 that afternoon. We suddenly remembered that we would have to have some “travel-sized” toiletry items as the usual day-to-day items were too big, too bulky for travelling, plus Customs now had stringent requirements. Nat popped out to the Drug Store for what we needed while I finished getting the house in order for being away. We then had a bite to eat, watched a little TV while we waited.

We were picked-up by the Air Bus right on time. As Ridgeway/Fort Erie are always the first on and last off, we were alone until the first and second pick-ups in St. Catharines. We were then taken to Vineland for another Air Bus to Toronto, as our guy was headed for another round. The new bus turned out to be their Limousine Bus and what a treat that was. Nice quiet, smooth ride and the driver did not hesitate to drive through the crowded QEW to Toronto. Luckily he could take advantage of the High Occupancy Lane and we could watch those comuter suckers fly right by. What a treat that was. Nat and I are also so paranoid about being on time and this made us feel a lot more secure.

We arrived at Terminal 3, got checked in for our 10:00 PM flight to London Heathrow. Thankfully the lines were bare-to-none and we received our boarding passes just fine. By this time the two of us were a bit hungry, as we had missed our supper. Another massive walk, including two-three walking escalators/walkways, to the Departure Lounge, but on our way we came across the Smashburger restaurant. Nat was hoping to go to Tim Horton’s but not sure where it was. After asking, he was directed to go walk down and it was right around the corner. I went for the Smashburger and he headed to “Timmies”. We found a table and began our lunches. As I opened my little package containing a burger I was taken aback. It really was “smashed”. They take a bun, place the burger, the lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup and mustard within it, put on the top and physically “smash” that sucker. What a strange concept!!!!! Despite that, and after scraping off all those toppings I abhor, it was pretty good, as were the fries.

With our belllies reasonably happy we proceeded to our Departure Lounge. We were now getting exhausted, after such a long, long walk through that humungus Air Port. It was even harder for me, after being taken off the Fosamax (bone density) pill for four months before my dental surgery. My legs have becomes somewhat weaker from my feet to my hips. I had no idea that was coming but having no choice I had to soldier on. Poor Nat, with his long stride in walking, he was at times always looking back to make sure I was still with him and at other times tried to be patient with me. We both had no idea how bad I had become.

We found a seat at the WIFI tables and I tried to hook up my iPad to see if I could at least email any family, but alas it was a bit confusing for this deteriorating brain and I gave up. We found a couple of seats and began to watch the rest of the passengers coming and going. Fascinating to watch people from around the globe walking by. I love to check everyone out – what they’re wearing, how much luggage, how good looking, how geeky, etc. Terrible of me, but I truly am fascinated with people. It’s an education in any Air Port.

The time had arrived to finally board the plane. Naturally, we were in the last group to board. Why they don’t start from back to front of the plane is beyond me. We have to walk the farthest and try to worm our way through the first boarders as they’re putting their “check-in” bags in the cabin above them, blocking the aisles. Yes, the more you pay the more privileges you get, but it just makes sense, at least to me.

We found our seats, got settled in and were soon up and off to the wild blue yonder, unaware of what was ahead.

Saying Goodbyes To Those You Don’t Want To Leave

May 7th – Part I

Received a call from Natalie on Monday, which answered a lot of questions for Nat. He had been trying to call Jenny at home several times but no answer and was starting to get a little worried. He kind of thought she might be back in hospital so decided to leave it for a few more days. Still a bit worried, he decided to leave a message for Natalie (Nat’s nephew’s wife who was taking care of what was going on with Jenny and was always our contact for any and all updates on Jenny’s health). She called back this past Monday while Nat was playing golf with his buddies, which he’s not been able to do lately because of the crappy weather.  Once I picked up the receiver and saw the number on Call Display, I knew it was Natalie. She told me Jenny was back in hospital and not expected to come out. Along with the progression of her cancer and infection, she had fallen again. The cancer had now spread from her lungs to liver and she was disoriented and confused. My heart sank. Somehow I wished Nat had been home to take the call. The tears began to swell. I so hoped this moment would never come and as I tried to listen to Natalie my hands were shaking as I took down notes for me to remember to tell Nat when he arrived home.

As Natalie had mentioned that Jenny would love to see us, we now had a dilemma. Do we go now or try and wait? Not having seen Jenny in so long, we were thinking positive that she would hold on for a while. But it soon became a no brainer to see her while she’s still alive. I knew Nat would have regretted waiting and end up going to her funeral instead. We then made a mad dash to make flight decisions – what day to leave, how long to stay, search for flights to Newcastle (which do not have direct flights to and we would have to fly on some other airlines with some with connections (London. Amsterdam, Dublin, etc.)

After doing research on the travel sites, I was totally confused. Too much information and difficult for this aging brain to comprehend. So it now became another no brainer that we head to CAA to find us something. That same day Nat had an appointment in Stoney Creek – was gone for about 1-1/2 hours, then had to return home so I could  jump in the car for lunch with Michele in St. Catharines. This was one of those times I wished we had two vehicles, but alas the expense isn’t justified. Poor Michele, she got hit hard with my bitching on personal matters, and as I was also a bit hyper, I probably talked in bits and bytes and along with memory lapses of remembering words, I probably sounded like a crackly Ham Radio Operator. I love her for listening to me. I then drove home to pick up Nat to drive back to Niagara Falls and CAA. Sitting down with the agent and after several tries, she soon found good deal with British Airways with a stopover in London, leaving in 2 days!! She also arranged with Niagara Airbus as our transport to the airport. It took us back a bit about the price of flights today, but again no complaints, as this may be our last time going back to Britain.

We returned home to plan the packing and cancel some appointments for while we were gone. Nat then called Natalie to let her know the details of our trip so she could arrange for someone to pick us up once we arrived at Newcastle airport.

I then spent Wednesday getting packed and organized, setting up finances, organizing medications for the two of us and rebooking dental and medical appointments. I was proud of myself that I was able to pack lightly. We both did not want to be burdened with carrying more than we needed, as this was not going to be a holiday. Nat is always good in what he takes, but I always think of every variation where I might need this or that (just in case), including any make-up (but another no brainer, as I’m now a senior and can just go bare faced). With one bag for checking-in, one carry-on and my travel tote loaded with money, travel info, passports and iPad (won’t go anywhere without), we were good to go and ready to leave on Thursday afternoon. I truly was proud of my packing – not even an extra pair of shoes which is unheard of for me!!!

Once Nat returned home from his game, we were enjoying supper and decided to put on the air conditioner, as we were both getting a little warm. Then later that evening the air was running for quite some time but not cooling down the house. We really didn’t have any bloody time for the air-conditioner to break down at this moment in time. Before getting too panicky,  Nat had decided to check things out and it was discovered the air conditioner breaker was off. Thank God. Nat figures it got flipped to the off position when we had some workers in the house and had to use the fuse box. Whew!!!!

Off to bed with our minds whirling and wondering about the days ahead.

…. to be continued ….