The afflicted are geographically all over the place. I should be here. I should be there. I should be everywhere. I should be making tea, washing pillow cases, organising sock drawers and gently taking the Mothership’s hand off the telephone to stop her calling the police on her caregiver, AKA Dad. And somehow in all of this I am supposed to be a wife and a mother of three.
I’ve been on the telephone non-stop for five months. I’ve done a bit of visiting and helping. Not enough, but enough for the minute.
So, I’ve run away. Just for a week. And not alone. I’ve taken a child who used to be Small but seems to have become Tall. We’ve headed south. The others – The Executive, Medium and Large – were invited but when I said camper van they said ‘what?’ with a degree of incredulity that I found unattractive.
I am not going to dwell on medical matters, but to sum up: the Mothership’s navigation systems have been taken over by aliens. The Travelling Aunt is confined to quarters and, having arranged every detail of her funeral (how many funeral directors get to hug their future clients?) has, quite frankly, had enough of cancer. And the Father-in-Law? Good Lord! Some call him The Gorse Bush for his refusal over the years to succumb to health crises that make Round-up look like a dose of homeopathy. His latest dance with Death was so dirty that the doctors called in the whanau. ‘Don’t waste time’, they said. We rushed in and we hugged and kissed him, sobbed out our love and said our goodbyes. I’m happy that he rallied. Elated. But there is a certain kind of awkward that occurs the next time you chat to someone to whom you said goodbye forever. Especially when you snotted into his hair. And now he’s hoovering the muffin you brought and is wah-ha-ha-ing about the numbing gel the nurse rubbed on his pecker the previous evening.
Anyhoo, it’s been a roller coaster, and I don’t like roller coasters. I had given up all hope of doing this camper van trip with Small. Then the planets did a strange thing. They lined up. Just in time. The Mothership settled into cheerful bewilderment. The Aunt shrieked: ‘But you MUST go!’ And the Gorse Bush was being discharged from hospital and going home to his big chair and a large glass of beer.
So, just like that, Small and I were off.
We have gone south. We have picked up a camper van. We shall gaze upon mountains and fjords and stars and lakes and remind ourselves that everything can be beautiful and terrible at the same time. We will learn how to empty toilet waste. We will play Exploding Kittens. We will cook with gas. We will read books and write blogs for those family members who could do with a hand but have given us their blessing to bugger off anyway.
While everyone is still alive, they are alive. Alive! And that is worth celebrating.
If you’re having a COVID of a year, feel free to join us. More to follow.