Monday, February 23, 2009


I don’t think I’ve mentioned that sometimes I commute to work by air. It’s about an hours flight to Wellington, our capital city. The regularity of travel depends on what’s going on at work. Sometimes it’s only once or twice a month and other times it’s at least one day a week.

If it sounds like a flash job believe me it’s not. 

I had a 7am flight this morning which means I got up at 5am and reached the airport feeling tired, coffee deprived and hungry at about 6.45am. As usual I arrived too late to grab a decent cappuccino and something to eat before boarding.  The inevitable queuing for the x-ray machine (and the grumbles when my bangles set off the alarm) was followed this morning by sitting and waiting in the plane while they hold up the departure for some Member of Parliament flying to work for the week.

Anyway, by the time I’m ‘enjoying’ the crappy offerings they call coffee on the plane, I’m usually in full on work mode and doing some reading to prepare for the days meetings. Not today.

I found myself sitting next to a woman in her sixties, who was in NZ from the UK and was on her way to a town north of Wellington to stay with her son and his familyAir_New_Zealand_Plane_Tail who emigrated here a couple of years ago. She was so excited about seeing him and her grandchildren that she could barely sit still.  I’ll call her Doreen and she was adorable. She entertained me for the whole flight with stories of her son growing up and why she’s decided to stay put in the UK when her only child and grandchildren have moved to the other side of the planet.

Doreen said she couldn’t stand the thought of leaving the village where she grew up and got married and raised her son and, most importantly I think, where her late husband is buried. She told me that she visited him everyday and a friend had promised to keep up the daily visits while Doreen was away for a month in NZ.

When we landed and I was in a taxi heading to the Wellington office, I reflected on the conversation with Doreen and I felt sad that she was tied, albeit apparently willingly, to a place that kept her from enjoying the living.

Life’s too short.


  1. It's hard to walk away from the grave of someone you love Lou. Very hard. Even then you never stop worrying about the abandonment issues you have or the actual state of the graves.
    For her I would imagine leaving impossible after so many years with her husband and his grave. There is also the thought she may just be so settled and at peace with where she is, that moving would not make her that much happier. Sure she misses her kids, but her life is in that small village.

  2. You're much wiser than me DD :-)

  3. Wise? Me? Uh-uh. Just got an understanding on where she is coming from is all Lou. I have an email addy on my profile to understand what I am raving on about, if you want to email me and I'll send you a piece that will never be published. But be warned, it's not the usual funny stuff.

  4. Hope that helps, somehow, if you have any questions feel free to email me. I am fine with it.

  5. If she were to move to NZ, she would become a part of her son's life - it would never really be her life. And she visits him and flies all that way - she's living. My gran did not want to move from the house she raised her kids in and spent her entire life to live with my aunt 30mins away. It's hard to leave all those memories and all that living behind.

  6. Her story about not wanting to leave the town and gravesite is exactly why I won't be buried.
    I have told my loved ones to cremate me and sprinkle me around somewhere nice, womewhere i liked.
    Because I will not be in the ground, I will be in their hearts. And they in mine.

  7. When you say commute, car travel or train travel springs to mind, not flight.

    I understand the woman not wanting to move at her age, when she's lived in the UK and the same village all her life. I know NZ isn't a new language to learn, but it must be scary starting a new life in a new country.

  8. Cheers everyone, I appreciate your comments. DD that made me teary, thanks for sharing.

    I get that it's a heck of a move around the world, it's just that I sincerely hope that Doreen is where she wants to be and not staying out of any sense of obligation. That's what Bob's saying I think and I see his point - a buried loved one is an anchor, for better or worse.

    I'm sure that you're all quite right in that she is choosing to stay with her husband (and friends no doubt)in a place she knows and loves. With the occasional jaunt to NZ thrown in for good measure.


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