It’s been a busy July and today I am completing final preparations for our annual trip to Ireland. This year we have even more stuff to bring with us and as space is limited in the WAV, Kate and Tom have travelled ahead. They flew into Dublin last Wednesday. Roch and I follow tomorrow with brother Paudie to help with the driving. Unlike the past two years, we intend to undertake the whole journey in one day. That way there’s only one unloading of the kit and caboodle and I think both Roch and I are just anxious to get there really. It used to feel very much like part of the family holiday, the drive to Holyhead and the ferry crossing. Now the journey ahead seems quite daunting.
However, we have had something of a trial run, as I drove the new WAV down to Exeter for Kate’s graduation on July 18th. What a wonderful day. We are so proud of her and I was pleased as punch to have managed the trip. A thing of wonder and a joy forever, for us all to be together at Kate’s graduation. It is one of those precious days which will live in all our memories. I don’t think we would have dared to have dreamt it possible back when he was first diagnosed.
|Cheers! At the champagne and cupcake reception! Very Exeter...|
The trip was not without its difficulties but I think Roch would agree that these were worth it to be there.
The main problem was pretty basic: washing. A couple of months ago, I booked two rooms at a Premier Inn outside Exeter. I could have sworn that the last Premier Inn we stayed in had shower facilities attached to the ‘disabled’ room – anyway to our great disappointment, this ensuite was equipped with a bath. We asked to be moved to a ‘disabled’ room with a shower seat and appropriate washing facilities – but none of the disabled rooms could provide this. We were there for two days, in really, really hot weather. The least the proud father could expect was to be able to shower for the big day. A sponge bath and hair wash at the sink was hardly a substitute but we made do (as you do). Happily, having made a complaint about this – and also about the fact that the room had very little space in which he could manoeuvre his chair – and filled in an online feedback form which Premier Inn was foolish enough to send us a day or so later – we were given a refund for both nights for the disabled room. They have promised that our feedback has been fed back to Head Office and that hopefully, changes will be made. We move on.
I had a few problems with the WAV – Exeter is very hilly and it really seemed to struggle on steep slopes. It may be the weight of the wheelchair but there were a few hairy moments as I crashed through gears and we crawled along.
However, it was all worth it in the end.
July began with Tom’s trip to Kavos (every mother’s nightmare). But he returned safely, just before I headed off to Venice, where I met my sister Maura for a six day break. In case you’re thinking that I abandoned my husband – I did not! I left him to the tender care of not one, not two, but three of his brothers (not to mention Tom, keeping a weather eye on Dad). I knew that at any given time two brothers would be on hand and was dimly aware that there would be shenanigans and chaos in my absence. Frankly, my dear, I didn’t give a damn. Venice, as always, was enchanting , and I left it behind with many a backward glance of love and longing.
There are lots of memories for me there. I have been lucky enough to travel to Venice on a number of occasions over the years, but it is almost exactly three years this July since Roch and I went there together. It was on our bucket list. On that trip he needed wheelchair assistance at the airport, but managed with two sticks throughout our stay. Everywhere I was reminded of our time there together, but it didn’t make me sad. His generosity of spirit and loving heart made it easy for me to go back to Venice without him. He never made me feel guilty about it – I kept in touch via text and facebook and back in the London heatwave with brothers, friends and neighbours, he assured me that he was having a good time and looking forward to the cigars I had been charged with purchasing for him. He is truly one in a million.