Esther then left Holland with her mum for a short trip to see her dad back in the UK, who hadn’t been able to come to Holland, with a plan to fly straight back to Spain from Britain only to get the news 24 hours later that Oma had had a terminal stroke. Esther went straight back to Holland where, along with the rest of the family, they took turns to sit with Oma who was now in a coma until, three days later, she passed away.
For my part, living with the gang in the motorhome, spending time with my dad in Los Alcazares and then on my own, while all of this was happening was a peculiar, almost unreal sensation. We all agreed that it wasn’t sensible for me to drive 25 hours north for the funeral, or try and find places to leave 5 dogs, although in hindsight maybe it could have worked. I’ve never fully understood the value of a funeral to say goodbye until now. Oma had also been big part of my life for 17 years and it was hard not to be there.
For Esther and her mum Oma’s passing was the start of a very hectic and emotional time, not only having lost Oma but unfortunately the conditions of Oma’s care home only gave them 6 days to clear her room while also organising the funeral and taking care of lots of other paperwork. Esther was very grateful to be there to support her mum and, while it was maybe all a little too quick, it ensured that not too much attachment got transferred to the material things. Esther also stayed a few days after the funeral to support her mum and dad.
Which brings us to the start of February and time to pick up on that reflection, goal-setting and considering what 2019 might have in store for us. It’s already a year with some uncertainty, particularly with Brexit now less than 2 months away, but whatever arises I believe we will be able to roll with it, something we’ve gotten better at in the past year or so thanks again in no small part to the presence of our five furry travel companions. When we first set off in 2014 everything was new and, as a result, everything was wonderful. We just enjoyed whatever and wherever we found ourselves. Then, in the years that followed, we sometimes started to make comparisons and get stressed if things weren’t as good as something else we remembered. We sometimes had a tendency to focus on the small parts of our lives that didn’t feel good, rather than the many gifts we had, and we got worried as a result, trying to get back what we remembered or set even higher goals to outdo the past. But now we’ve seen it for what it was, we make sure we try and take time every day to be thankful for the many gifts already in our lives. I’m not saying that we’re perfect at this, far from it. We’re just at the stage where we can catch ourselves from time to time, and then try and presence ourselves to appreciate what we have in the now, a lesson that Oma, in her wisdom, had been showing us for years. That there is amazing joy to be found in appreciating the simplest things.
We’ve now moved a little further north of Alicante, into the Jalon Valley north of Benidorm, where the almond blossom is just starting to bloom and the sun is shining on some fine cycling roads and many, many hiking signs.