The call from home

Ru­ral Ram­bling

The McLeod River Post - - Points Of View -

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.


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