“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony,” once said Friedrich Nietzsche. It has been an emotional week in the Thomas household, a week of reuniting.
One of the toughest sides of a global pandemic is the separation. Yes, we’ve been able to keep in touch virtually, but physical contact can’t be replaced with a Zoom call. But finally after almost two years I felt the embrace of my mother again. Tears of joy and relief. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It was a journey, or rather a holiday, that we’ve been planning for a long time. We had missed too many family celebrations over the last two years.
“I’m more than a little nervous about travelling alone,” said my mother on the eve of her journey. Yes, apart from travelling in a pandemic my mother was also coming to Dubrovnik alone as my father had sadly died just before Covid reared its ugly head. It made me think about the billions of other families that had been divided due to the virus.
We had, of course, planned a busy week in Dubrovnik with my mum. In many ways it was strange for her to be out and about in society again. “I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people,” was a phrase that we’d hear a lot over the week. After almost two years at home Dubrovnik probably felt like New York for her. And as she hadn’t been here for over five years everything looked new for her.
Of course we jumped through all the hoops that travelling at this time brings. And ended up spending more on the PCR tests than the actual flights! When she arrived it looked like she had more weight in paperwork than luggage. And just to highlight the absurdity of travel, when she returned home she had to take another test of day two after arrival. But this could be done via post! “What’s stopping you doing the test on another person, or even a dog?” was my question.
From the far reaches of Konavle to the glorious Baćina lakes in the north, we travelled the length and breadth of our county. 24 hours a day together for seven wonderful and unforgettable days.
And clearly I am not the only member of our family with a love for the written word. “This is for you,” said my mum as she dug into her luggage. My father had started an autobiography before he fell ill. It had remained an unfinished piece. However, my mum had been busy over the past two years and had finished the last chapter in his name. Not only had she finished it but she had found a publisher, who had edited and laid out the book. She then had it printed in enough copies to hand out to all the family. Now if seeing your mother after so long isn’t enough of a shock, then receiving a book that your late father had written, and had been completed by your mother, was a shock to the bone (more tears). In these days of blogs, vlogs and posts, there is still nothing as permanent and tactile as an actual book. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
We reminisced, we joked, we debated, we ate and drank (thank you Dingač) and above all we laughed. It was so nice to see my mother laughing again after the past period, and it was even nicer to be the one laughing with her. As we plan to have a big family Christmas all together in England this year the final goodbye wasn’t as tearful as it could have been.
“See you in a couple of months,” I said with a smile as she made her way through the airport. And clearly this made the goodbye easier for her. Quality time with our families is something that should never be taken for granted, because time moves so fast. Cherish those moments, as I will cherish that week in the Dubrovnik sunshine with my mother.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to