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Saturday, July 17, 2010

We Come Back Home

We're home! Here is the end of the French stay and the beginning of our return home.

Day Ninety:

No one has slept enough, but we are all wide awake and making preparations and getting in mama's way as she desperately alternates stuffing and removing items from full-to-bursting suitcases which have been weighed and found to be at the very limit of the allowed 23 kilos. I have a more lenient approach to this than my poor husband. "Ah, our scale is probably off by as much as theirs, they won't quibble for a couple of ounces, and yes, I need that skein of yarn! The other 57 as well!" Poor baby Puck, the only one who, not entirely on board with the plan to get up so very early and be out of my arms when he is so tired, protests in his sleepy way, crying and making a general ruckus. My plan of leaving him in bed until the last minute and tossing him, diaper, pyjamas and all into the car, was greeted with one big negative from daddy. (What's one grubby kid in pyjamas when the other six members of the family are nicely dressed with their hair done? Sigh, but we are in France, after all.)

We manage to all get into the cars, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandparents and small cousin, not to mention baggage in tow, and drive the hour plus to the airport. We meet up with the friends who are entrusting us with their fifteen-year-old daughter for a month and double-check her carry-on luggage contents for the all-important forbidden items (you never know, she might have brought a bottle of after-shave with her.) Next we have our bags checked in, holding our breath as they are weighed and accepted.

The rest goes as normally as one would expect. The airport custodian service is called to bring up mops for the amount of tears bursting forth from the two gathered families as we say our farewells. We go all the way through security, everyone beeps today, of course, shoes off, re-security check, and as we turn around to pick up bags and things, we see that the parents, grandparents, etc. are all still back there waving. They are not making it any easier to leave.

As we are about to arrive in London, child number four in the illness contest, comes down with an upset stomach and horrible cramps. They continue to worsen as we collectively race around Gatwick; eight of us with seven suitcases on trolleys, one guitar and carry-ons, looking for the blasted Boots pharmacy to buy some ibuprofen. At one point, this child is leaning over a garbage can, in the middle of an area with seats and a million people, crying, yelling and gasping; "I need to throw up, I am going to throw up." She is practically in the lap of the man sitting next to the garbage can, but he does not so much as flinch. The only reasons for this that I can imagine are that he does not speak English, he is very polite or he is asleep.

Once we get some drugs and food into the ill ones, everyone feels better and we make the airport change with a minimum of fuss. The flight offers a great selection of films and we make it to Chicago and into the waiting arms of Grandpa, with little further ado. It is so good to be home!

Our house is happy to see us, our neighbors come over to say hello at 11:30 pm when we arrive, and we all sleep soundly in our own beds. A fantastic friend had the kindness to stock our fridge and cupboards with enough for two meals, one already prepared, forgetting neither rice milk nor wine. Our mail has all been stacked neatly in three baskets by our wonderful neighbors, ready for rip, read and toss (or pay) for the most part. I had the foresight to place an order of a couple of books for the kids and a pair of binoculars for Arthur's birthday, so there is at least one fun thing to open among the many work items. There is some money too, which is always a nice thing to find in the mail, issues of a few favorite magazines and yarn catalogs (mmmmm).

My yard has been kept mowed, but the weeds are taunting me and will meet their fate in the coming days, as Lily and I attack and conquer our vegetable and rose gardens, making room for fresh growth and flowers.

There is still some blueness pervading the atmosphere as some of us are homesick, some wishing they were back in France, and some dwelling on how very far away it is. On the whole, this is balanced by the unmitigated joy of the others who are glad, glad, glad to be back in their beloved house with their greatly missed cockatiel or friends or routine of "normal" life again. Children are funny creatures, I am happy I get to share this life with them. Anywhere on earth becomes home when your family is there together, how lucky we are to have each other, and two homes.

2 comments:

Marlis said...

Welcome Home!!!! As you can see it's boiling but at least you have the air conditioner. I can't wait for a cooler day so I can bring my two short people to our Wednesday Park Day and hear all about your trip. I also have tons of questions.

Cheerio

Jen said...

Yes, Welcome Home! So sorry to hear about all the illnesses, but your family is full of troopers and it sounds like you will all be resting and catching up on much needed sleep :D

Thank you again for documenting so much. I missed some of the posts, so I will enjoy going back to visit your lovely journey!

Hugs,
Jen