A Sad Thing Which Took 16 Months To Occur

This post was supposed to be about how I was staring down the barrel of around 10 school fetes and the associated drama that comes with baking a thousand cupcakes and trying to wangle as much money out of relatives for the raffle as possible. But then my brother rang to tell of the news of an old family friend’s passing. This post is still about time, but no longer about fluffy cupcakes.

Last April we were in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in Karumba, enduring days of sweltering heat, nights where the temperature would not drop below 27 degrees Celsius and a beach full of crocodiles. Only five weeks on the road, I’d already hit my threshold of “This is all a bit Fucked and not really like holiday at all” and had moved on to acceptance and drinking copious amounts of wine. It was hot- I was thirsty. We’d hit a rhythm in setting and packing up the camper, the landscape had changed 20 times since we’d left the soft and easy arms of the East coast and family and it WAS all starting to feel like a wild adventure.
But there were still days when there was a longing for friends and family, especially since we hadn’t made any new friends on the road: few families were travelling at this time of the year in Australia and those Grey Nomads usual lock tight their 5 o’clock circle of camp chairs. So we had been in our own company for those first five weeks. Which is great! But little feelings of homesickness had started to creep in and snowball into full blown “Where’s Nana and Poppy??” moments.
One 32 degrees at 9am morning I’d cycled down to the fruit truck which graced Karumba once a week to see if I could get something fresh which I did in the form of perspective and personalities. Standing there were old family friends whom I had not seen in decades, but as happens, the only things that had really changed were hair colour and waist lines.
Mr and Mrs Trucking Magnates were a wonderful tonic. We only saw them a few times; they even blew off afternoon drinks in their own Grey Nomad circle to entertain us at the Taj Mahal (their enormous house on wheels) which was simply lovely. I’m not sure they realised just how much that afternoon meant to us, to have a direct connection with someone who knew us beyond Those People With The Noisy Kids And The Messy Set Up. To talk about people we all knew, to have someone give our kids a dose of grandparenting (read “Eat as many chips as you want- there’s more!”), to get a spoonful of home-spun advice (“Don’t be so bloody stupid!” in reference to fears about certain upcoming parts of our trip ie the Gibb River Road)… But to dispel that homesickness with a good dose of home: this is what we needed and this is what we got. They fortified us immeasurably. And I will be eternally grateful of those few days of crossed paths with them.
They were also doing a lap of Australia, but our time frames and routes meant the chances of catching them again before we all got back home were pretty slim. So we said good bye with the knowledge that we might not see them again for a year or so. Or forever.
A few months later, “living the dream” travelling around this wide brown land, Mrs TM collapsed. After a horrible year, she passed away this morning, leaving her loved ones bobbing around in a wake of every heartbreaking emotion possible.
It’s really hard to end this post without some contrite message about Time Passing or Hug Your Loved Ones or Live Each Day Like It’s Your Last but you know what? It’s all of that. Time does pass by quickly, we do need to appreciate and cuddle our precious people constantly and each day should be cherished. And thanks Mrs TM, I hope it’s beautiful there.

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