Christmas Break

We had quite a journey to the West Country between Christmas and New Year.  I thought it would be a good idea to take the train – a more relaxing way to travel.  We got there in the end but public transport doesn’t always go to plan.  Our transfer at Reading Station took a lot longer than we’d anticipated and we spent nearly two hours standing in the cold awaiting our next train.  Luckily for us, we hopped on and found a seat where we could – in first class – and stayed there.

Our journey in first class ended at Tiverton Parkway where we took a bus replacement service to Exeter because there was flooding on the rails between Tiverton and Exeter.  Ultimately our journey that should have taken about 4½ hours took nearly 6½.  Understandably, we were pretty tired when we arrived.

My mother in law had a pizza on hand for us together with a wide variety of cakes, sweets, drinks and other food that we may or may not like.  I was reminded of visiting with my mom – who stocks up with enough provisions to feed the Romanian Army when we come to visit!

The next morning we awoke and got ready to see my father in law.  We have to time our visits well because he tends to be easily distracted and has been known to forget to eat.  We were told that the best time to go is 11am.  Thanks to my time with my dad, I feel I have an idea of what to look for in a nursing home.  It’s set in what could be a manor house.  There is a large dining room to the right just inside the front door.  To the left, a few comfy chairs where my father in law was sitting.  It seemed a clean and bright place where the staff smiled when they saw us.

My father in law beamed with a smile when he saw Helios.  It’s clear that he recognised him but was unable to put a name to his face straightaway.  He got my name right though and we were thinking that there is probably a reasonable explanation: he has only known me as an adult whereas he’s known Helios all his life and may be trying to match the mental pictures he has of a child to the adult standing before him.  My father in law was on good form as he was hoisted from his chair and wheeled to the dining room where we could have a visit in private.  While the move was being undertaken, Helios went to his dad’s room.   In the meantime, I sat with my father in law and listened to how much he liked the place and how nice it was festooned with festive paraphernalia.  He loved the attention and I was pleased to be there.

Later that afternoon we met Apollo, Helios’s son.  He’s a lovely kid and I just adore him.  I made sure to tell him how much my mom appreciates him looking in on her every so often.

The next day we visited my father in law again.  I found this visit to be harder because he looks so frail and, as we were going, I couldn’t stop myself thinking: “I may not see you again in this life.”  It’s hard not to adore such a kind-hearted and positive individual.  I fought  back the tears as we were leaving.

That afternoon – perhaps to take our minds off how ill my father  in law is – my mother in law has arranged to see a number of her family at the Conservative Club in town.  Uncle R met us at the flat and walked with us to the Club.  Lucky thing he did, one of the door handles fell apart in Helios’s hand so Uncle R fixed it (with a bit of tin foil in the end) and we were off.

One of the things I love about blokes in families is the lively banter they affectionately give one another.  The teasing can be relentless but it’s never malicious and, I think, is a replacement for the more obvious affection that women give one another.  Well, Helios was being teased something chronic that afternoon but he gave as good as he got.  I couldn’t stop chuckling.  So when they started playing darts, we ladies joined in and had a great time.

That evening we had a Chinese delivered and enjoyed a quiet evening with my mother in law.  It’s unusual for us to spend so much time with her because her flat is too small to comfortably sleep four people.  With her husband in the nursing home, I think she was glad to have company, if only for a couple of days.

The next morning we went to the train station and started our epic journey home.  Luckily the flooding had subsided and the rails repaired so we didn’t have the problem of taking a bus-replacement service near Exeter.  Our connecting trains were all on time and we arrived home in the early evening.  Good thing we had New Years to get ourselves prepared for more work and daily routine.

I hope you had a peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Foxy

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