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“Are you able to take some time off from your relocating problems and pay us a visit?”
It was Gwen on the line, and her voice had a ring of concern to it. Gwen was near the end of a difficult pregnancy, and was clearly finding the task of carrying the baby through these last stages and caring for her motherly duties more than she could handle. To further complicate life she reported house contractors were not meeting their time schedule. The kitchen had been totally demolished for refurbishment, there was dust throughout the house from the demolition work and she was not able to easily negotiate the stairs to the basement laundry any more. She sounded quite miserable!”
May looked at Jack uncertainly. The relocation in retirement had gone off fairly smoothly, but there were plenty of things still to be done, including that dreaded trip to the government office to apply for age pension. They needed to have that pension to supplement other income in retirement, and it seemed the government wanted to know so much about them. It would take weeks to put all that information together. Could they really afford to take time off now, and how would it impact on their finances if they did?
They knew they couldn’t refuse this request from their daughter though. Both children were precious to them, and they’d do anything within their power to attend to their girls requests. Fortunately both daughters had married well and didn’t lack finances, but there were things money couldn’t buy and only family could supply.
The proposed trip would mean a lengthy hop across the ocean. They were quite worn out after relocation from one state to another, and the thought of a trip at this time made them both weary. Travelling by plane in cramped conditions for twenty-four hours was not the most pleasant way to relax after their recent stressful move. Jack thought ruefully of the last overseas trip, and how it had taken him hours to unwind stiff limbs after they’d landed. But Jack gave a nod of agreement to May in spite of that thought.
“It’ll take a little while to get our travel arrangements in order, but we’ll start working on it right away,” said May. “When were you planning for us to be there?”
“Last month!” Gwen responded with a giggle. She sounded more relaxed now that her mother had made the commitment to come.
May and Jack were not yet familiar with their new location, so Jack settled down at the computer and began checking off the list he’d prepared hastily to guide them with preparations. The Internet is a wonderful tool to care for travel bookings, and check out latest visa regulations with the Embassy.
“Don’t forget medical insurance” May said ruffling jack’s hair. She was more aware of that need as they’d experienced a medical emergency on their last visit and were glad for insurance when they received the hospital bill.
Jack discovered they could get door-to-door service between their new home and the International Airport. That was something they’d taken for granted when they worked in a big city. It was impractical, and a waste of money to leave a car at the airport for two months while they helped their daughter survive the birth of her third child, so they were glad to see this service was available.
“It looks like we have all the conveniences of living in a city right here on the Coast,” Jack remarked to May who was peering over his shoulder at the computer screen while he accessed one web page after another, gathering information for their proposed visit.
All documentation was on hand to meet the travel deadline, and they were soon on a plane heading for Atlanta USA. To their surprise the trip wasn’t as unpleasant as they’d remembered from journeys they’d made previously to the US. Immigration and Customs formalities were less stressful than news media had lately been reporting. Since the nine-eleven catastrophe security was tight, and Immigration and Customs were slower than they’d been in the past, but not as bad as news media made them out to be. Jack was glad security was tight anyway, as he felt safer knowing travellers were being checked carefully each time he boarded a plane for a journey.
“I hope you had a pleasant journey,” said Ralph as he steered Jack and May with their luggage into the car park.
Ralph was Gwen’s husband, and he was surprisingly cheerful considering it was almost midnight when the weary travellers arrived in Atlanta. Ralph was one of the top executives in his corporation, and would have to be on his way to work at 7 am in the morning. May anxiously steadied suitcases as they manoeuvred across the pedestrian crossing to the car park. She’d made sure the suitcases were well packed with Oz supermarket items her daughter was unable to get in the US, so the expatriate family could experience a taste of home.
In spite of the time difference, and resulting effects of jet lag, May and Jack were up early in the morning to greet their daughter and the two grandchildren Michelle and Kate. Michelle was always eager to help Grandma unpack suitcases, as she knew there’d be lots of good things to eat hidden away in each case.
“Look what Grandma brought us,” Michelle would shout at the top of her voice as she ran down stairs from the third level guest bedroom to the dining area now serving as a makeshift kitchen.
May and Gwen were soon in a huddle discussing progress of the pregnancy, and getting a duty list assembled for the time Gwen would spend in hospital during delivery. It appeared Gwen would be admitted on Kate’s birthday, so the Grandparents would have to help some of Gwen’s close friends see the party went according to plan. The party would be managed by a professional children’s party establishment downtown, but there had to be a family presence so the event could be photographed, and children would feel someone from family was there to share the experience with them. Gwen had thought of a change of date when her Doctor had revealed the time of her likely delivery, but it was impossible to get an alternative booking. The party was to be two days from May and Jack’s arrival date!
The Doctor’s prediction was very accurate. Gwen felt cramps developing on Sunday morning and Ralph headed for the hospital with her while May and Jack prepared the children for their birthday celebration.
“Just as well we couldn’t cancel out on the booking”, said May as she steered the two children into their car for a trip to the party venue. The children have seen their Mother in difficulties for the past month and have been quite concerned for her welfare. They’ll have a chance to take their mind off their Mother while the party is in progress, and then we trust there’ll be good news for all of us to relieve the tension.”
The party was a success, and Ralph showed up later to bring good news the girls had a new baby sister. They’d decided to name her Elizabeth. Gwen had a difficult delivery, as had been predicted, but the Doctor was certain that with good rest, and a lot of help around the home, she’d make a good recovery. It appeared to May and Jack they’d made the right decision to put their own plans aside and make the long trip to help their daughter. They really were needed! Their pleasure in feeling useful was further enhanced when they made that first trip to hospital and saw their third granddaughter, Elizabeth.
“It was worth all the trouble,” said May as he held Elizabeth in her arms for the first time, while Gwen looked on, exhausted but happy.
“Thanks for being there for me when I needed you most”, Gwen murmured sleepily.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2011 All rights reserved”