England - Round The World Tour 2003 T-7

pre-departure

West Thurrock

Thursday 6th March

The time we spent down in Basingstoke was a huge success. We got to spend some quality time with the last remaining Nephews & Nieces and had a blast overall. We only got to see Ellis & Yasmin for a short time but we will get to see them again this Saturday at the family reunion at Jacqueline’s house.

We are now spending a couple of days at Mum & Dad’s house. The time we have spent with them so far, here in Paul David’s old house, has been no less enjoyable a time than we have spent elsewhere. This evening we went to visit Uncle Dave & Auntie Lilly as well as Dave & Irene Write. As a rule, due to the typically rushed nature of our visits to the UK, we rarely get to visit everyone we would like to but Dave & Lilly and Dave & Irene are always on our must-see list and we always make the effort to spent at least a little time with them if we can. Aunt Lilly & Uncle Dave and their large family (7 kids and about 14,000 grandchildren and great-grandchildren by now) were very much a part of my growing up. We lived just around the corner from them in South Ockendon. Between their family and ours, South Ockendon is a place where a family member of mine, either direct or indirect, is never very far away. Dave and Irene are very good friends of Mum & Dad and were also an integral part of my childhood. They are the sort of people who I would have no hesitation in calling in the middle of the night for assistance if my car had broken down somewhere in the country – as I have done on more than one occasion during my youth, in fact.

Another must see on our list is usually Mary, the next-door neighbour to Mum & Dad. Mary is a lovely woman and somewhat like a second mother. She told us this evening about one of her sisters, a Nun as it happens, who lives in Perth, Australia. It would be nice if we could get to meet her when we are there a little under a year from now. Mary is a most enthusiastic yet down to earth Irish woman with one of the most positive and uplifting outlooks on life that I have yet encountered. Despite the growing problem of youth street crime to afflict this immediate vicinity, for example, her positive attitude is truly an inspiration to me.

Mum is doing well, even though she now lives life never far from discomfort with her various ailments. She has her good days and her bad days. Between her insulin injections, eating schedule, mobility problems, doctor’s visits and all too constant breathing problems with oxygen tubes trailers around the place, she is, I think, coping much better than I think I ever could do so in her situation. Ultimately, it is disheartening to see her in her condition with slim hope of any improvement because of the various vicious circles that plague her health problems. But what can you do, but soldier on? I find it a constant annoyance and irritation that even with all my money and talents and everything that I have ever achieved in life, I cannot take her pain away! Still, it’s not healthy to mull or mope over a problem that is beyond the scope of anyone’s control. Much the same as my other siblings, I do what I can in ways that I am able, to help or assist my parents live more comfortable lives. All I really ever hope for in life is for Mum and Dad to be proud of me. When the time comes for my epitaph to be written, I would consider my life a true success if could be said that I had achieved this goal. My sadness for my mother’s condition is tempered only by the knowledge that Mum & Dad are, in fact, very proud of all of us, my brothers and sisters and I, and, indeed, they will use almost any excuse to proclaim as much. In many regards, we are a very much a close knit and loving family and even though Sandy and I have chosen to give up the vast majority of our material and financial wealth in favour of following a once-in-a-lifetime dream and ambition, you really can’t get and richer than that.

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