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January 13, 2012

After spending almost three months away from my beautiful Welsh countryside, and having missed what was described to me as a lovely Welsh summer, my return home last October created an anticipation that surprised, and pleased, me. The death of my mother, and the horrendous betrayal handed to me by some members of my family, wore me out.  I stepped off the plane and immediately booked an appointment with my doctor.  The heart palpitations, painful headaches, tight shoulder muscles and sleepless nights punctured by nightmares and unwritten and unspoken dialogue, had taken their toll.  I was a mess.

All I wanted to do was to sit on my terrace, hold a cup of tea, and look out at the spectacular scenery that unfolds in front of me.  Three mountains (hills, bumps – I call them mountains, as do most citizens of this prideful country) – Blorenge, Skirrid and Sugar Loaf stand proudly in the near horizon. The day could be cloudy and gray, but most often the clouds tear away when they are above these peaks and a streak of sun shines down, illuminating their majesty.  I dreamt of this view, and the hot tea poured into my porcelain mug warming my hands, when I was going through the “terribles.” There was comfort in these thoughts.

My return to Wales was the good.

I was looking forward to going back to Florida and spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with our daughter, son-in-law and two very special little boys, our grandsons.  We missed them terribly last year during the holidays and I had vowed not to spend another Christmas away from their lively faces and tender hugs and kisses. Recreating Thanksgiving here in Penperlleni last year provided a salve of sorts, but my heart still ached by the vacancy the separation created. My tickets had been booked months before and I wasn’t going to change them.

Just a few days before we were to leave for Florida I was told my father had taken ill and was in the hospital.  The good people at Delta Airlines took matters into their own hands and managed to re-book both my husband and me, and to reroute our trip so we could get to the hospital on the west coast of Florida as quickly as possible. Fees were waived. Flights were rearranged, and before I knew it we were onboard and heading for the States.

I said my goodbyes to the man in the hospital bed who wore my father’s identification band.  It wasn’t my father who was lying in that bed in the intensive care unit.  He didn’t look like my father.  His hair was different. His chin was more prominent and his nose had changed.  Is that what age and illness does to a person?  He had lost his wife only two months earlier and I guess Dad had decided he’d had enough.  I said my goodbyes, remembering the person who “was,” not acknowledging who he had morphed into. Shortly after Thanksgiving, Dad joined Mom in the hereafter.

That was the bad.  But ugly lurked on the horizon.

I cannot stress enough how important it is for EVERYONE to put their affairs in order and to make sure all siblings are in tune to parents’ wishes.  My siblings ignored what my parents had established and took matters into their own hands, distributing the “booty” with a glee that sickened me. My mother’s wishes for a specific inheritance dedicated to me was snatched away under the auspices of a power of attorney. The legal cost to prosecute was more than the stolen funds amounted to. I walked away with much less than my siblings.  But I also walked away with the knowledge that it wasn’t I who had trampled on my parents’ graves.

So ended the bad.

Returning to the east coast of Florida, my beautiful daughter, handsome son-in-law and delicious grandsons enveloped me in hugs that lasted forever. Our friends stood in line to invite us into their homes. The welcome we received after such a horrendous few days that had split my world in two, revived the mending process that the previous six weeks in Wales had started.

My bad dreams started to go away. The heart palpitations ebbed. The throbbing in my head”Dear Santa, We bought you some red roses. We hope you like them. Love, Jacob and Nicky.” calmed. The tension in my shoulders began to subside. The love we were given helped erase the miseries and reminded us of all the goodness that is in our lives.

"Dear Santa, We bought you some red roses. We hope you like them. Love, Jacob and Nicky!"

We spent a long six weeks in Florida, eating, laughing, drinking, hugging, crying and then eating and drinking some more. I shopped with my daughter. We took a two-day road trip with our grandsons, exploring Butterfly World and Billie’s Swamp Safari. It’s amazing what most impresses children.  Not the iridescent blue morpho butterflies, not the treasures purchased in the gift shop, not the meatballs swimming in sauce or macaroni and cheese they had for dinner.  No.  It was the sheer delight that was in Jacob’s voice when he walked into our hotel room for the first time.  “Grandma, it has a microwave!  Thank God!” Those seven words reduced all my woes to nothingness as what was important in my life stood in seven-year-old amazement in front of me.

"I'm never going to wash my finger again. It touched a butterfly!" Jacob at Butterfly World

Two weeks before we were to return home I was ready. I missed my home. I missed my countryside. I missed the civilized people of Wales and their lilting voices. I missed my fresh market, real vegetables pulled from the ground and still covered in rich, Welsh earth, lambs dotting the countryside, trees that had limbs almost down to the ground, weather, green rolling hills – I missed Wales.

I’m home now. 2012 lays ahead of me full of promise. 2011 was regurgitated as the clock neared midnight on New Year’s Eve, and the bad was flushed away.  Only good remains as only good is allowed in my life from this point forward. For me, the good is what stretches out from my children’s arms and reaches across the ocean to my husband and me, and our life in this glorious country that is Wales.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Malcolm permalink
    January 13, 2012 11:16 am

    Good to have you home Girl

  2. Trudi Behr permalink
    January 13, 2012 3:40 pm

    So sorry you had to go through the bad and the ugly…i know what that is like and it sucks. Thrilled you got the time with the kids. I can’t believe how grown up they are! Big hugs. We have to catch up sometime, somewhere!

  3. Pat permalink
    January 13, 2012 5:20 pm

    Our condolences.
    Some realize too late that they now, the adults, are orphans and need each other like no other time.

  4. January 14, 2012 10:47 am

    Jann it’s so good to hear from you again, glad you’re back! I am sorry about your loss of your mom and dad, I lost my dad just a short while ago. I know how much the family hurt can damage, sometimes friends seem more like family! I owe you an email to catch up. I’ll send one soon.

  5. peggy clarke permalink
    January 17, 2012 10:43 pm

    Jann, it was so great to see you and Paul for a bit. You’ve had a lot thrown on your shoulders and you’ve held up quite well. I also had a parent pass away and saw another side to a sibling that surprised us all. We were still grieving while she took what she could from the house as fast as possible. Not sure how she can live with herself but we can’t dwell on that. Your outlook is amazing. Seeing the world through young eyes is wonderful. Have a cup of tea for me. See you next time around! xo

  6. Helen permalink
    February 2, 2012 4:08 pm

    Love your blog, I lived in Wales for 6 years many years ago, I now call Nottingham, PA. my home. Loved the Welsh people and Welsh cakes, cups of tea and even the rain.

  7. Hope Jennifer Barron permalink
    February 13, 2012 11:45 pm

    Oh, Jann, I am so sorry to hear about the “bad” and the “ugly.” You are absolutely right about telling people to plan properly. A well-written, detailed will and trust can save the remaining family members a lot of grief and heart-ache.

    I’m glad that Florida was redeemed when you returned to see your daughter and family. Butterfly World is one of my very most favorite places. I just love it there. So beautiful.

    Continue to enjoy Wales and I will continue to enjoy reading about it (with the continuing plan to make it out that way. I know it won’t be this year, but I’m hoping for 2013!)

  8. AHG permalink
    February 20, 2012 10:02 pm

    JB –

    So sorry to learn of your parents’ passing; alas, it’s part of the passage. More disturbing though is shaft from your brothers, although I have to say I’m not altogether surprised.

    And I missed your birthday! Mea culpa. In the past ~45 (?) years don’t think I’ve missed too many. I’ve been terribly preoccupied in heavyweight company business since my Managing/Technical Director died suddenly of a heart attack late last year.

    Seems as if you have lots of good friends and are happy in Wales. That’s excellent news. I do hope you and Paul are staying well.

    Allan, aka Your Worldwide travelling partner

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