We dropped my mother off at the airport today. She is coming up to 80, has dementia, COPD (a chronic lung condition), has had several mini-strokes and must take daily doses of rat poison (aka Warfarin) to thin her blood. She should be reclining in a granny chair to admire views of the garden, but instead she is heading to Africa to go on Safari.
I am not sure if this is a good or a bad thing. Her partner is 20 years her junior and can’t wait for this trip of a lifetime. My mum on the other hand, sobbed as we left her standing outside departures. She looked bewildered and frightened. We’d all made jokes about her being eating by a lion, but suddenly, it doesn’t seem so funny.
She is prone to nocturnal wandering, especially when she is somewhere strange. She flits between the UK and New Zealand and each time it takes her several months to work out where the bathroom is in her own home. It would be entirely possible for her to go shuffling out into the African bush for a wee where she couldn’t outrun a dung beetle and would be easy pickings for a predator.
One thing I’ve learned from doing The Journey is that the only business I should be worrying about is my own. If my mother and her toyboy want to hurtle around the globe pretending that everything is tickety boo when clearly it is not, then so be it. I cannot control the situation. It is what it is – somebody else’s life. Besides, there is also every chance they’ll have a jolly good time and come to no harm.
I told Mum I loved her as I fear I won’t see her again. Yesterday she said goodbye to my father and cried because I think she knew it was probably their last meeting – he has terminal cancer and she will be gone for seven months.
Time is passing. Death is drawing closer. Change is in the air and there is nothing I can do about it. In fact, knowing and accepting that is incredibly freeing. I can’t keep everyone safe, but I can take good care of myself.
Above all else, I honour myself.