So The Swede flew into the UK last week, & broke his journey at Heathrow, so that we could meet down there for my Uncle's funeral. The preceding journey down to the Northeast for myself & my son was a fairly uneventful train journey (apart from sitting like fools for half an hour outside of Newcastle, due to signalling problems), and then the next day we set off in my sister's humongous car to collect The Swede & then proceed to the fantastically cheap & cheerful hotel that I (being the family bargain hunter) had found us all in Kent.
Oh My Lord. As soon as the receptionist handed us room keys (as opposed to swipe cards), we knew we were in trouble. However, the horror that awaited us was so bad it was hard to describe.
Altogether, our party (My mum, dad, sister, son, & The Swede & myself) suffered (deep breath):
Hairs in the bed
Hairs in the bath (different colours)
Somebody's hair band casually tossed on the floor-together with what looked like half a scalp full of their hair
Shabby, peeling paintwork
Yellow stained towels (unfortunately I only discovered this AFTER I had dried my face on one of them)
Shower curtain poles so rusty & corroded they could have fallen down at any time
A bed with a horrendous case of "roll-together" in the middle
The drawers in our room smelt of fish
My sister's room stank of cat pee
...and I'm sure there were others....Oh Jeez.....did I get it in the neck from the rest of the family for picking that one! I have to hand it to the Medway M2 Travelodge tho-they actually managed to achieve the nigh impossible feat of making me think that a mere £35 for one room for one night was too much!!
Anyway, by Friday morning we were suitably soberly dressed & out of the hell-hole, & proceeded to my auntie's house for coffee before the funeral. I thought I was doing ok, composure-wise, however, when I took a look at a photo of my auntie & uncle taken on their 55th wedding anniversary this June, I couldn't speak, & the tears came. It was just too much...my auntie gazing adoringly into the vacant eyes of the shell of a person that my uncle used to be before Alzheimers pulled him under. Bless him, he didn't even know why he was there cuddling this to all intents & purposes, "stranger". Somehow, we all got thru the day, though I had to force my mind elsewhere when all of us famiy members were standing outside the church waiting for the coffin, & then he arrived, and my auntie walked in behind him with her son & daughter (my cousins). Huge gulp.
As for what my auntie wrote on the flowers from her, that is of course, private, but I just hope that I come close someday to the love & companionship that they had for so long.
Onto happier times. Yesterday was my 40th birthday (However I am still in denial & pretending that it's happened to someone else!), & The Swede took me & my son out for dinner at my favourite restaurant. We had an absolutely sublime meal, & a very happy evening indeed. My son also behaved perfectly-well, apart froma few, largely accidental, burps because of the two cokes he guzzled. Earlier in the day, I received a birthday card & a cheque from my auntie, which was a nice surprise, because God knows I wouldn't have expected a card this year after what had just happened, tho when I saw only her signature on the card, & realised how strange it must have been for her to write only her name for the first time, I had a few sad moments too. But it was hugely appreciated, & I bought a nice thank you card today which I am going to write a letter to her in tomorrow. What a brave, lovely lady.
Sometimes I am awfully sad that I don't see huge portions of my family for so long. I am going to make much more effort to keep in touch with my family in future.