Today we took my Dad’s caravan to Kirkudbright for him. As this year has progressed I have learned to accept that it isn’t about the wealth we have or the belongings that we possess but about the moments we share with the people that we love.
Mum passed away in August 2008, she is probably still giving someone grief up there for how untimely that was at 64, as she had worked all her life and never got to draw her pension. I had emigrated to New Zealand in 2006 with my husband and the girls, and got stuck with our property falling into negative equity following the global recession and no hope of returning to the UK, and I didn’t even make it home for the funeral.
My sister held everything together. She helped Dad and sorted affairs and then continued to shoulder the weight of Dad’s illness. He was diagnosed with cancer less than six months after mum’s passing and the weight loss that we had put down to grief was actually the cancer eating away at him. He had some major surgery to remove a lung and was given fairly low odds of survival, but survive he did, and whilst he was unable to receive any chemotherapy, he was too ill and frail, he slowly healed and recovered. He was never really able to return to being an active solo captain on his boat without his beloved bosun and the years rolled by until in 2011 he got his beloved Emma dog. He then grew from strength to strength and got his first camper van in 2013, followed by an upgrade in 2015. In 2016 finally after seven years, we managed to sell our house in NZ and we returned home at the beginning of 2017.
Fast forward to today and the latest roadtrip as we were able to drive Dad’s newly acquired caravan north to Kirkudbright for him. It is these moments that make all the complexities and turmoil of the last decade somewhat worthwhile.
Driving to Kirkudbright itself was a trip down memory lane, we often went there camping as a family when we were younger, as Dad had lived there as a child. Ironically Galloway had also been a favourite haunt of my husband’s family. My husband and I honeymooned for 2 nights along the same Galloway route at the Isle of Whithorn in 1994, the car breaking down in Dumfries on the way, robbing us of a night’s money. We then camped and visited Dumfries and Galloway fairly regularly in our early marriage even partying on down for Hogmany in Portpatrick with friends on numerous occasions. Emily learned a lot on the journey northward. Every name on every road sign brought back some distant memory and now there was a new excitement as what we were embarking on was a new adventure, and a new opportunity to create new memories both for and with Dad.
Our lives can and do change so rapidly. It is important to treasure and cherish each moment that is of meaning and see it for its true value and worth especially when we live in troubling times where values seem to be challenged and dropped so readily and with such ease.
I was glad to be able to have today. I hope there will be many more days like today.
It was a day full of promise. It took a long time to get here but we got here in the end.
©Alison Jean Hankinson