While we carried on with our lives, the wheels of the immigration process were quietly turning. When the day of our medicals arrived, I told the doctor I hoped he would find something wrong with me. He thought that was tremendously funny, but I wasn’t joking. I didn’t mean anything like lung cancer that would carry me off in the immediate future, but something like a small TIA that I hadn’t even noticed, but would have been sufficient to get the rejection stamp.
The day the letter of acceptance arrived, Vaughn was ecstatic. I felt as if I’d been punched in the solar plexus. We had a year to get out to Australia to validate the residency visa, and thereafter five years to come and go before finally settling.
So to sweeten the Australian pill and get the relevant stamp on our passports, Vaughn suggested we fly first to the UK to visit my father, then on to Australia via New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fiji, and New Zealand. This was going to be our ‘Trip of a Lifetime’, a round the world holiday. I still didn’t believe we would be going to live in Australia, so went off on holiday with a semi festive attitude.
My father’s house seemed sad and empty without my mother there, but it was good spending time with Dad. We took a trip to Exmoor, a place I remembered with great fondness from my childhood.
We walked across Tarr steps – Dad must have been about eighty-six at the time, but he was game for anything. Halfway across he lost his balance, and although we managed to save him from falling, his walking stick fell into the water and was soon racing through the rapids. Luckily he had a spare one at home.
England draws me back again and again as if I were physically attached by a long piece of elastic, but I knew it would be a long time before I was able to return, so I drunk in all the greenness, the history, the lifestyle and every precious moment spent with family members.
The rest of our world trip was a wonderful experience but totally exhausting. Too much in too short a time.
When we arrived in Melbourne we spent most of the holiday looking at houses, always a pleasant activity in any country.
Somehow, by the time we got back, what had started off as a ‘maybe’, had subtly turned into a ‘definite’. There was never any more discussion about ‘if’. It was always ‘when’. I looked in the sky for a sign telling me it was okay to go. When the first agent absconded with our money, I was certain that was a sign, and we wouldn’t be going. When three new grandchildren were born, I felt as if this whole Australia thing was just a bit of an adventure, but we’d actually be staying in South Africa. When I was offered a really good promotion at work, it was another addition to my growing list of Reasons to Stay.