Thursday, 21 June 2012

You realise how large the world actually is when you're an expat when there's an emergency

People say the world is a small place. You can fly anywhere, you can talk to any one at any time, via twitter, emails, facebook and skype and even the old fashioned pen to paper letter writing.

But it's not the same, you can't cuddle a new born niece, give your kids or parents a hug or 'be there' when people are ill.

We had a plan for emergencies. We also argued and rowed over what was an emergency. Who do we fly back for? When? How much?

It was agreed that parents and children were a priority, but what constituted an emergency. Routine operation? No. Complications? Maybe and who?

Last week my sister rang my mobile. It could only be bad news. I have various Uncles and Aunts with serious illnesses, my mum is 68 the youngest of 8, my father is 72, the eldest of 3. His middle brother died last year. Yes I went to the funeral, but it coincided with my UK visit, but in all honesty I wouldn't have flown back for the funeral.

So my first thought was it was my Dad's cousin, he had a stroke last week. Or my Uncle who's had heart bypass or my mums friend with cancer. But no, it was my Dad, he'd had a heart attack over the weekend and they were waiting for test results before worrying me. He was in hospital and I was told he was going to be fine.

It was too late Monday night to fly out, it takes me 24hrs door to door. So Tuesday was spent by the phone, would he survive? Would he be ok? Did I need to fly home? Should I go tonight or tomorrow?

I spoke with my Mother in Law, she said 'do what you feel you need to do' Hubby agreed and the flight was booked for Wednesday night, arriving in the UK Thursday lunch time, a few frantic text and facebook messages to arrange for me to be collected from Birmingham Airport and driven to Cardiff.

I'm due to fly home tomorrow. My father will be fine with his new medication, diet and exercise routine.

Did I need to fly home? No, not really in the sense of it being a life threatening situation. But in the sense of my personal needs and that of my immediate family, Yes I did need to be there. To see them when they are all well and alive. I don't want to be flying back for a funeral having not seen any of them for a year.


  1. I know what you mean. We regularly have this conversation (in reverse though as we moved to the UK from SA 17 years ago). Recently, I moved my parents to the UK to live near to us. Sadly, Mom died of cancer shortly after, but at least she was near to me and we were with her all the way.

    It's a tough decision though.

    Hope you've had a great trip, safe journey back to SA.

    Lesley x.

    1. Hi lesley, sorry to hear about your mum. When you live as an expat people keep things from you, they don't want to worry you, they want you there but at the same time don't want to put pressure on you sure to the cost involved.
      I'm glad I went back, but am scared soon that one day there will be nothing to go back to.

  2. To live so far away to hear awful news must be just horrible, especially when trying to find out information. I hope your father does well with his new lifestyle.