The call from home
My family made the move from the UK to Canada in 2004. We thought that Canada represented a better future for our children. I think we were right. Those that have fledged have jobs, partners and some have children, and some are buying a home; something their generation in the UK finds increasingly difficult, sometimes impossible.
My wife and I have taken the “call from home” that I suppose all immigrants and those that live far from home dread. In our case having lost our fathers, both to cancer some years before, it was “Your mother is sick” and worse, “Your mother is dying.” We were faced with awful choices based on finance, visit our mothers while they were alive or go to the funeral. We chose the former and were glad that we did for both my partner’s mother and my own. High emotion, jet lag, winter storms, hospitals and nursing homes do not make for an easy visit.
What we lacked in presence we made up for in advocacy and fighting for our mother’s rights. We spoke to them on the phone most days, then every day right up to their last one. I would not wish that on anyone.
I’ll be honest the experience messed with both of our heads. Twice afterwards we returned to the UK for a couple of years with our younger children but couldn’t settle there either. Most of our family was in Canada and us being away upset them too. The “call from home” for them or us was an inevitability. We decided to use the second UK stay to buy a wreck of a home, fix it up and use the money to buy a modest property in Canada for cash and quit the mortgage dance. This we did. The property on a Scottish island was almost a derelict, no power, no water, no heating. Water and power, we got reasonably quickly, heating took a year or more. It was harsh living.
Anyway, the renovation got done and we sold the property without a single viewing in a matter of weeks and we returned to Canada to our family, bought a modest acreage and are and will be investing some sweat equity.
The last really close relative I have in the UK is my sister. My grandmother and my sister brought me up in my early years. I speak with my sister on the phone usually every two weeks sometimes more frequently. Her husband passed a couple of years ago, but I don’t think she misses him that much. He was not a nice man. During our regular call recently, she told me she had cancer, stage two breast cancer. She will be going in for an operation in the first week in November. It looks like the doctors have caught it early but nevertheless there is the C word and there is risk. She has two sons and a daughter, but they don’t live close. It looks like they’re rallying around their mother, which is good.
Finances are, as ever, tight for us and worse, we are in-between travel documents, which could take months to sort out. Once again, “the call from home”, and all the memories come flooding back. Once again, I’m going to be checking travel logistics for a possible trip perhaps to say goodbye to someone I love dearly. Or, I hope, a holiday. If I appear distracted at times I apologise in advance.