Greetings from Dublin. I'm writing this in Maura's lovely sitting room, using her laptop. We are here for the Easter weekend and excuse me if I'm somewhat incoherent but we were up at the unearthly hour of 5am this morning to catch an early flight. For only the second time i requested special assistance for Roch - the first time was for our journey to and from Tenerife in February. This time the kids were with us and there was a very awkward moment at the special assistance desk as he was clearly undecided about whether he wanted us to wait with him and then accompany him to the gate or meet him there. I couldn't read him. We went on to the gate without him and he told me later he felt that was the right thing for him. He said he didn't want the children to see him in a wheelchair for the first time at the airport. Not sure why. By the way, mental note to myself, Aer Lingus changed his seat and put him in a seat at the front of the plane but we were 25 rows behind him. Mustn't let that happen again.
Well, Good Friday seems a long time ago now and here I am back in London reading what I wrote then. It was a good weekend although Roch picked up a filthy cold. Remind me never to book such early flights again. It was torture getting up this morning although the journey itself was very smooth indeed. It's sunny out now and the house is quiet as the rest of the family are asleep. The children did see him in a wheelchair today for the first time. It felt strange to me and I know to the children too. Is there such a thing as wheelchair etiquette? The woman who pushed the wheelchair made sure they were alongside us all the way to baggage reclaim so in the end we just carried on as if it was the most normal thing in the world for us to walk along beside his wheelchair. And that was the first step in making it the most normal thing in the world.
Earlier in our journey, at the Gate, another hairy moment when a member of the ground staff called for all those needing Special Assistance to come forward. So he did and when he did, she told him to stand aside as he would be boarded last! There was nowhere for him to sit near the desk so he walked slowly back to us feeling pretty embarrassed. So when I got to the top of the q, well, Roch said he could see me 'having a go' but I wasn't really - 'Can you explain to me,' were my opening words and she did try to, but it seemed daft to me. So I just asked her to explain it to him, as he was pretty angry about being called forward and then sent back, as if he was trying to skip the q. She then obligingly began an apology to the startled gentleman standing next to me. I corrected her and the children and I went on to board. Happily this time I had discussed the seating arrangements at check in and we all sat together at the front of the plane. Very handy for the toilet.
It's hard for his family when they see the changes in him at first hand. This time the cold weather seemed to make the tremor in his hands worse at times and I think it affects his walking too (a big thanks to Lorc for Roch's new walking stick!). It's hard for him being home I think. He wonders what changes will affect his next visit. I wonder that too. I worry a bit about the practicalities of it. The journey will get more difficult - but not impossible. It always feels a bit sad to me, going home. It's like stepping into the past for me - I think I get how that feeling may be multiplied for him. I think about my childhood and the way things used to be at home, or my young adulthood and what exciting times lay before me - visits with the children when they were small and my mother was more vigorous. That was our first visit home together since his mother's funeral and we all feel her absence.
But all that said, it was a good weekend and although it was a bit of a flying visit, it was worth it. We spent time with his family and mine and with some of our dearest friends. I enjoyed Saturday night with his family and it was great to see him with the clan, having a few drinks and a good laugh (and a tasty snack). That's the secret, enjoy the moment, live in the present and try not to worry too much about how the future will unfold.