Saturday, November 05, 2011

Where’s Eric?

Saturday morning, 8am.

Milly is straining on the lead, dying for a leash-less run around in the park after two days of non-stop rain and only quick visits downstairs for relieving herself.

Sapphire has been left at home, fitfully sleeping, with her mobile resting on her pillow. Mine is in the pocket of my polar fleece and I finger it nervously, hoping that I’m not a terrible mother for leaving her to give a dog forty five minutes of my undivided attention.

Nafeesa’s grandmother arrives from Lebanon today, the lucky recipient of the laughingly-titled ‘fast track’ visa application on compassionate grounds. Yep, only three weeks: how very thoughtful of them to rush it through for a child without an able parent or family..... Nanna will need help though as she’s eighty one, doesn’t drive, is in a strange country and speaks mostly Arabic.

We’ll all pitch in of course and I know that Nafeesa is greatly looking forward to living in her own home again, where things are familiar and the comforting routines can recommence. This past week, she’s been at her friend Paige’s place. Sapphire’s been too ill for us to have her at ours and, well, she’s made it clear that we’re, um, not who she wants to stay with, despite the wishes of her mother and mother’s best friend. Still, if she wants a week of late nights, junk food and sporadic visits to hospital but is having some fun, who can deny her that when she’s endured several weeks of stress?

Love Chunks is in Canada running a conference and workshop; stopping only to head to the airport, bypass the US and do the same thing for another week in Mexico.

I think back to my birthday, two days ago. Sapphire’s blood test showed that her body was definitely struggling with a major illness, but that her major organs (liver, etc) were functioning normally. Her temperature had finally lowered, but the headaches, diarrhoea, nausea, exhaustion and wrenching stomach pains had not.

“Sorry about ruining it, Mum,” she whimpered, head in my lap as I stroked her forehead. “I got up when you were in the shower and your cards and presents are on the lounge.”

She had sewed me a bag for my latest knitting project and alongside it was a golden chocolate Lindt bear. “Look inside the bag, Mum,” she urged, sitting up slowly, the morning light showing too pale a complexion and dark circles under her eyes.

A beautiful hand-made card with sentiments inside that brought me to tears. “No Mum, look in the bag.” Inside was a framed magazine advertisement pulled from a magazine of the month and year of my birth – November 1968. Nestle’s chocolate – Born in Switzerland, their secret is now being shared with you. “I found it on ebay and when we were at Jumbo’s I put the frame in with the ones you had bought and hoped that you wouldn’t notice. Dad did framed it when you were on your treadmill.” Yes, my other present, which arrived a week ago.

More tears from me as I rushed back to the other lounge and cuddled her. She’s twelve now and yet I still automatically breathe in her hair and am instantly reminded of her as a newly-bathed baby. “Mum, you’re not supposed to cry on your birthday,” Sapphire laughs.

Love Chunks writes me an email with a message so simple and beautiful that I’ve read it every time I’ve logged on since. The rest of the day is spent knitting as Sapphire watches the motley collection of Antiques Road Trip shows we’ve recorded, running an ongoing guessing game on how much each item will fetch at auction. The TV is regularly paused for her to recover from a painful stomach spasm or to dash to the toilet and my worry is masked by the rude jokes I make to try and get her to smile. “Everything is about farts and poos with you, Mum,” she says in a not-very disapproving tone.

Two days later and Milly and I are about to walk into the park. A quick glance shows that there are no other dogs nearby for her to scare off, so I bend down to unsnap her lead.

Putta putta putta putta – one of the ubiquitous mini-bikes has screeched to a halt on the opposite side of the street, the driver calling out to me in French.

“Parlez vous Anglais?”

“Yes,” he says with relief. “There was a bakery here...” he gestures to the shop behind him whose windows are papered white, “ you know where it is now?”

Being an inexplicable magnet for direction seekers, I actually do know. “Here, it’s around the corner, where we’re heading. It’s only been open for two days, very fancy now. Follow me.”

He nods in agreement, driving on the left hand side of the road as he does so, breaking the law. It’s 8am on a foggy Saturday morning, who’s going to notice?

The police, that’s who. Out of nowhere a heavily armoured van pulls up alongside us, six serious faces peering through the dark windows that are now slowly rolling down.


No French this time; I think my ‘Oh My God’ has given them a clue.

“Do you know where Eric’s bakery has moved to?”

Half an hour later, with a muddy but happy dog I’m still laughing as I walk back home, knowing that Sapphire will get a kick of out this story when I see her.


nuttynoton said...

When you said the police van pulled up I wondered what was going to happen, so descriptive again, We hope that Sapph is better soon, sounds not very nice at all. I bet you will be glad when LC is back from his travels, keep up the writing brilliant!

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks nutty - we're all coping very well; I just find that sometimes it's the very tiny, unexpected things that help me keep going!

Loving the treadmill - did 6km this morning and blew off the cobwebs.

drb said...

Is Eric the Bakery in trouble?

River said...

Oh Sapphire! I recall my eldest girl having exactly those symptoms with her very first period and every one after until a doctor put her on the pill to see if that helped.
I hope this isn't the case with Sapph. and a quicker cure can be found.
Happy Birthday too! I love the very thoughtful present from your girl.
I hope Nafeesa continues to be okay and her mum improves quickly.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

Belated birthday greetings.




Kath Lockett said...

Nah, but Eric is very popular locally and out of the blue he closed down, stuck up a note saying "I'll be back soon" and is now across the road in much snazzier surroundings.

Thanks River. I think things are going as well as they can for Nafeesa and Yasmin. It'll be months of rehab and recovery, but there's a lot of people willing to help out.

Thanks also, PlasMan. I ended up drinking a 375 ml bottle of Moet in the evening as Sapphire lay on the lounge and we watched The Big Bang Theory.

Jackie K said...

Hi Kath,
I've been on a blog holiday for
last 2 weeks and just caught up with your last few posts; my goodness you've had a lot to deal with. Hope everything goes well and Sapphire is better and Yasmine recovers. One needs a good bakery in times like these.

Anji said...

Belated Happy Birthday.

You certainly don't have time to feel sorry for yourself, perhaps that's a good thing.

take care of yourselves.

Kath Lockett said...

JackieK, a bakery yes; but chocolate has also been my faithful standby. At last count (five minutes ago) there are fifteen family-sized blocks in the fridge, from six different brands!

Thanks Anji - time for self-pity would be dangerous but a nice long sleep in wouldn't be knocked back....

The Elephant's Child said...

Never mind you crying at the wonderful, wonderful presents you received from your family, tears sprang to my eyes.
I hope Saphire gets better so very quickly and am glad that for the moment you are Nafeesa free and can concentrate on each other, Milly, farts and poohs.
And belated birthday wishes from me too.

Imogen said...

Happy belated birthday!

Sapphire's gift - oh how perfect is that, and HOW thoughtful. She's such a sweet, pure, insightful and beautiful soul!

Made me cry, reading that! So beautiful.

And how funny regarding the police!!!

Imogen said...

P.S. get well soon Sapphire. Her illness sounds absolutely horrendous :(

Hannah said...

As someone who works in advocacy for refugees and migrants... I'm actually pretty impressed by three weeks. It's still awful, but so much better than some people get! That aside... how wonderful to read of you laughing and laughing!

Marshall Stacks said...

oh poor Nafeesa.
imagine how Sapphire would be without a mother in a strange place.

reading about the cops I panicked that they would ignore wrong-side cyclist and get you for the loose chien.

I hope you get a good Pain Au Chocolat from Erics though.

LC is working hard god bless him and all of you.
x x from me and Annie O'D

Pandora Behr said...

Belated birthday greetings. Hope Saph is on the mend and you get some wonderful goodies from Canada and Mexico!

Kath Lockett said...

Thank you, EC but apologies for the crying bit :)

Imogen, the police visit has me wondering if it's donuts they want over here, or something like croissants?

Hannah I tend to find that I laugh more and more when things get weird or tough or too hard or whatever - the tiny amusing incidents often trigger a bout of giggles that's hard to stop. Not that I try too hard....

Marshall it's with shame that I admit that I haven't yet stepped inside the new Eric's - will do when Sapphire is ready to sample the delights such as pain au chocolat with me.

Thanks Pand. I sooooo want to see Love Chunks arrive wearing a sombrero and poncho!

Anonymous said...

You might be surprised and find Nafeesa's grandma speaks passable French. Lots of Lebanese do......

Red Nomad OZ said...

Attagirl! So proud you've got the bakery sorted out!!

AND ... Happy Birthday!

Kath Lockett said...

Anon, you could be right. After all, her daughter Yasmin speaks it fluently.

Thanks Red - bakery visit will occur very soon!

Kari said...

Oh goodness...I read your last and this post together. I hope your daughter is feeling better and that her friend enjoys transitioning to being at home with her grandmother. What a difficult few weeks you have all had!

franzy said...

Kath, I thought of you today when I was at the gym lifting weights and I farted.

I hope you understand (and I think you do) that I mean this in the most affectionate way possible.

Kath Lockett said...

Difficult but easily do-able, Kari :)

Franzy, I had to share this with Sapphire who laughed and said, "He knows you, doesn't he?"

Helen Balcony said...

Yes that Eric totally owes you several Pain Au Chocolat if not a spotter's fee for being his customer redirection service.

Happy birthday Kath!

(Don't click on my blog. It's been hacked. Moving to more salubrious quarters soon!)

Kath Lockett said...

G'day Helen - I noticed! My computer virus checker thingy went nutso and blocked your site the other day...

Jilly said...

That's not how I wished your birthday to be - sorry it wasn't full of lovely things. So I am assuming the fondue didn't happen?? And, that's why my kids love you so much - that you are all about chocolate, poo and farts. Me, I love you for all the other stuff (kind, caring, funny, loyal, wonderful, smart, silly .....) xxx

Kath Lockett said...

Jilly, if 'chocolate, poo and farts' are what endear me to your kids (and my own) then I'm happy with that. LC gets back home on Friday, so it's likely to be my much-awaited fondue from Cafe du Soleil on Saturday.

Vanessa said...

Happiest of Birthdays Kath! Moet and chocolate in front of BBT, pretty good way to celebrate given the sick daughter and absent husband. Good excuse to stretch out the birthday fun x

Kath Lockett said...

Vanessa, when LC comes home, I'll be insisting on a few more birthday celebrations.

.....and I mean that in a wholesome way! :)

Baino said...

Awww happy birthday. I'm so sorry to hear that Saph is still unwell, it's been a while. She's a little treasure that one and if it's any consolation I still sniff the hair of mine and they're far too old to put up with it. Keep the faith Kath, you're stronger than you think you are. And a good cry can be cathartic. Trust me, had a few lately!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! You have such a thoughtful child, hope she's better now. I must say, to my layman ears, the symptoms you describe sound very much like the typhoid I got 15 years ago, hope she's been tested for it, just in case.