She did not use words to voice her excitement, rather, Mum’s excitement was shown through expression. Her smile grew wide and her eyes sparkled like those of a toddler who delighted in the gifts that lay beneath the Christmas tree. Her fingers glided over the electronic buttons embedded in the armrest, and her eyes rested upon the menu that was placed neatly on her seat alongside the amenities pack.
As she began to settle in her Business Class seat on a Qantas flight bound for Frankfurt via Singapore, tears began to glide down her cheeks. She turned toward me and slowly mouthed a simple, ‘thank you’.
I will never forget that moment. She was so happy, so thankful and so excited. I hugged her warmly, then together, we chinked our chilled glasses of champagne, took a long sip and revelled in the moment.
Adjacent to us, my boys then 10 & 12, were excitedly exploring the gadgets, gifts and myriad of entertainment on offer in the expansive seats that made them look very small. And whilst Mum’s excitement was contained, theirs was not, and with every new discovery, squeals of joy permeated through the cabin.
Watching my family’s happiness, I was thankful. Thankful for being a Qantas employee whose benefits included free Business Class tickets to any destination in the world, and thankful that I could share those benefits with those I loved.
I had surprised Mum with the tickets after previously speaking with Dad. He did not want to come, rather, he felt a trip with Mum and my two sons was a perfect idea. Knowing Mum adored Europe, I knew that was the perfect place for us to go, and as I believed, as did Mum that the best experiences were those that happened serendipitously, our itinerary was unplanned. The only sure thing was the month long booking of a hire car that we’d collect on our arrival into Frankfurt Main, and from there, who knew.
Many hours later, with Mum and Rob in the back of our hire car and Max, as self-appointed navigator in the front, we set off through the dark, underground car park in search of the exit. This simple task turned into a laughter filled adventure when the boys spotted a sign with the words Ausfahrt splashed across the vivid, green background. Farting noises and giggles followed and despite discovering it was german for exit, throughout our journey, it was a constant source of amusement for them.
On Christmas morning 2007, with giggles abated, we finally emerged from the darkness to find ourselves immersed in a spectacular, snow filled landscape.
It was indeed a very merry Christmas.
For the next few weeks, the laughter was in abundance and the adventures numerous. You loved that trip and in the years following, you spoke of it often.
Lake Annecy, France
It has now been 14 years since that wonderful adventure, and as today is the anniversary of my first year without you, I felt sharing some of our adventures is a fitting tribute to honour the beautiful, funny, crazy and incredibly loving woman, mother and grandmother that you were.
I’m so grateful for our relationship, so grateful that I was always there for you and so grateful you were always there for me. I’m so happy I took you to Europe, Bali and many other destinations we found ourselves in. So grateful we spent the afternoon of Christmas Day watching the world go by at Mooloolaba beach from the comfort of the car. Dogs on laps, we laughed as you did a running commentary of people strolling by. You loved that. You loved it when we took many leisurely drives through the countryside. We would stop many times to take in the quiet, and simply to be.
Mum, I could write for hours about all the things we did together, and I love that only we shared so many crazy, laughter filled moments.
‘Slipping’ on rainy streets in Singapore, crazy ‘mattress rides’ in France, being the ‘pied piper’ on Austria’s winding roads, sipping vin chaud in quaint bars, and feeling like fugitives in Switzerland. How could we forget Delphine throwing cooking oil on unsuspecting drivers in Germany, then the laughter filled snowmobile rides on France’s glorious snowfields. At home, those endless hours chatting downstairs, whilst Dad sat snoring happily in an adjoining chair. How we laughed when in unison, we would say, ‘Ken/Dad, go to bed…’.
I am so lucky to have so many memories and so many photos of our life together.
I won’t pretend to say I’m not sad, I am, I’m heartbroken knowing I can no longer create memories with you. Yet despite my sadness, I know you were so happy that we were so close and that replaces all my sadness with joy.
Mum, you were my best friend and my greatest support.
I will miss you forever…