My flight will arrive in Australia on Monday morning after a gazillion hours in the air and at airports. My aunt (actually, my cousin — it’s a long story) has organized for her two boys and their partners, and my mum and her partner to come over for dinner. If he can organize himself, my outback brother will be there too. I will be staying with my aunt/cousin, not my mum, for this trip.
My aunt’s theory is this: I will arrive in Melbourne, she will drive me to her house, and I will immediately fall asleep. She will wake me shortly before the guests arrive for dinner and I will be charming and witty and impress everyone.
My theory is this: I will be too wide awake when I get to her house to go straight to bed. Instead, right around the time everyone arrives, I will fall into a very deep asleep (think Sleeping Beauty without the “Beauty” element). My relatives will have a pleasant dinner with slightly more food available since I will be asleep and unable to participate. They will have to speak up a little to hear themselves over my snoring. They may even come in while I am sleeping and comment on how I’ve changed since they saw me last, how I am thinner, that I still have hair, that I need to clip my nails, etc.
Hopefully the reality will be closer to my aunt’s theory. It’s been such a long time since I saw some of my cousins, I’m looking forward to it and would love to be awake for dinner. Especially as my aunt’s younger son and wife are now having a b-a-b-y (Sssh! No-one else knows yet).
At some time though, the overarching theme of the visit will come up and the mood will become more sombre.
I haven’t been able to talk to my brother yet as he lives in the middle of ‘Nowhere Land’ and only has a cell phone (in a location with no service — he can only use it when he drives into town). I have heard from my dad’s partner that my brother is very upset as he didn’t know dad’s health was getting much worse recently and so this was a much bigger shock for him.
It has been decided that I will be the first speaker at the funeral and I have been thinking about what to say. I found my dad’s memoirs tonight (it was “tonight” when I started drafting this) and have been reading through them. I was waiting for him to send me an update before reading them, but that’s not going to happen now, and so this version will help me write my speech. Many of his friends from his youth never made it out of the small towns and are still there today, above or below ground. My dad had a horrible start to life but his brilliance gave him the chance to make something of himself anyway. All his education was in evening classes while he worked and looked after a family. He had at least four distinct careers and lived in three countries. The speech will write itself.
I was able to use Air Miles for a business class flight, which means first class on the domestic leg between Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. I’d forgotten until I got to the airport that this includes access to the executive lounge. Free drinks, nibbles to munch on, and access to this computer. I have looked up the Qantas web-site (they run the international leg to/from Australia) and business class seats have improved since I last was on their airline. Built-in back massagers, lie-flat seats for sleeping, a big screen for entertainment and access to 500 movies (if I read it correctly). This is definitely going to be different to the boring, long, slow, boring, oh-my-God-will-it-ever-end, boring flights I used to take when I was younger.
I have a nice view of the airport as I finish up this post. The workers scuttle around, directing planes and shifting baggage carts, probably without thinking if today might be their last. It probably isn’t, so good for them. But as each friend or family member passes on, it does remind me to make the best of the time I do have here. I’m glad to have met all of you. Stay safe. Please.