So things did not go exactly to plan since the last blog, as this draft (I didn’t publish at the time) describes:
August 2015: Stressed is not the word – work stress, finance stress, family secrets stress and stress caused by the impending bereavement of Bruces Mum, Sue. No matter how I tried I could not get rid of the constant anxious knot in my chest and, as a fat smoker in her forties. I was a prime candidate for a heart attack, something had to change and after our holiday it did.
Home had become work and it was not unusual for me to spend 12+ hours chained to a laptop with no escape. The “family secret” was one I had to keep until my then son felt comfortable to come out as transgender. I now have a beautiful daughter of whom I am very proud but at the time I was full of anxiety about how our close extended family, including her grandparents, father, brother and step siblings, would take the news. They took it in their stride and all of my fears were completely unfounded but the disclosure wasn’t made until we returned and I held it all in as we bumbled around France. Financial stress is a constant companion but all of that paled into insignificance as we learned there was nothing more that the hospital could do for Bruces Mum and she had weeks to live; the journeys to France began as she lived in the Vendee in France.
Weekend 1: Left Leicester for Kent and took my work with me. Picked up Bruce, who now lives in Kent Monday to Friday with his sister as he is working away from home. Sat waiting for eurotrain thing for ages and then drove through the night to the west coast. Unfortunately Sue had slipped into a coma, a brief moment when she acknowledged Bruce’s presence but nothing more. It was very sad and surreal, we left Monday morning as I needed to get back to work but we should have stayed, some things are more important. We got the call back in Kent Tuesday Morning, she had passed away.
The following Friday:
Weekend 2: Left Leicester for Kent and took work with me, silly me, my brain was a thick fog of fuddleness. Eventually I thought “sod that”, forgot about work and left for France for a funeral, picking up some passengers, a tent and other belongings along the way. Arrived in the Vendee in the evening and set up the tent in the garden of the gite for the rest of the families arrival by minibus in the early hours of the morning. The weekend followed with a beautiful funeral service, a very special wake at their local bar and celebrations of Sue’s life until the early hours of the morning. Laughter and tears to celebrate the life of the hostess with the mostess, she will be missed so much by so many. We made our way home on August Bank Holiday Monday to prepare for our holiday in France starting on Friday.
The following Friday:
Weekend 3: Needless to say we were both knackered and the normal holiday excitement was lacking.
When I collected Marge the Hymer I thought I’d never make it round the M25 to Kent, let alone around France. The left hand drive didn’t bother me, in my other life I had a left hand drive coach built Hymer. What was difficult was the clutch was miles away; so much so that when I pressed the clutch to go into 5th gear, my left foot was at full stretch as was my right hand and I disappeared below the dash board! It was noisy and the extra width took some getting used to. Driving the Hymer was like a fully body work out for me, not a bad thing as I could do with it but it wasn’t the easy drive I expected! The accommodation bit was fab and I loved the drop down bed but it was soon apparent we probably wouldn’t make it down to the South Coast and I checked the weather for the best alternative – The Loire and the Dordogne had big sunshine symbols and were chosen as we needed to be west to collect some things from Bruces Mums home in the Vendee on the way back to the UK.
I collected Bruce, tired and exhausted from work and we went to catch the train across the channel. He pulled out a beer and put his feet up and after a few hours driving in France (me driving not Bruce with his beer!) we pulled into an Aire and slept like babies! How wonderful to just pull up and fall into bed.