All good things must come to an end and saying goodbye to family is especially hard.
Our first goodbye was to Mom who returned to London on the Sunday before we left. We were due to leave the following Wednesday. On the morning of Mom’s departure, Judith and Ahmet took us to this great restaurant where they served an awesome buffet breakfast. The restaurant was in an old fortress or something similar and still had the castle battlements. It was a great place to eat.
It was then that the reality of the impending departures really hit us but then we know that it only means there will be a future hello. We tried to spend the time constructively talking about the time we had spent together and the great time we wanted to spend with each other in the future. But the time passed all too quickly and we had to leave.
We took Mom to the airport in the afternoon and the security measures were stunning. While we were waiting for the plane we spent our final moments joking around and drinking coffee. The time together had come to a rather abrupt and all too sudden end.
Of course there were tears, but there was also joy that we had reconnected and that we had more shared experiences and more memories together. My nephew was sad to see his Aiya leave. He never says goodbye to people. He has said to many goodbyes in his short life.
Of course when mom left we promised to see her in London during Chinese New Year 2008. We will indeed be going home to the motherland then.
After Mom left, Ahmet decided to drive us into Taksim for a few beers and some food. As we said earlier, Taksim is a great hangout. We loved being there and walking around the neighborhood. This time they were trying to find some games for Tibet. We were unsuccessful but the restaurant was wonderful, the beers chilled, the food great and conversation uplifting.
Ahmet was due to leave on the Monday morning. We asked him to wake us before he left so we could say goodbye. He didn’t. This is Ahmet’s way.
We were happy to spend the time with him. For Queenie to meet him for the first time was great and for me (Paul) to see him for the first time after 10 years was wonderful. We hope the next time we meet will be less than 10 years and that we can see him in Taiwan soon.
Goodbye Judith and Tibet
Our final day in Turkey was on a Tuesday. Judith took us to her school and we had breakfast together. Afterwards, while we waited for her to finish, we went down to a quiet park in the middle of Istanbul. There were birds and a lake, but it was winter so the park was a bit barren. As usual there was a smart restaurant overlooking the lake. We went there, had a few cups of Turkish tea and then wanted to leave. They didn’t charge us. Said it was for free. What a great country.
We went back to Judith’s school where we observed two of her classes. They were fun to watch. Kids are the same everywhere (Taiwan or Turkey) and watching them try their best to learn English is always fun. They seem to derive so much pleasure from it.
We spent the last night together at the restaurant in the Kultuur park. We ate great food and had a great conversation.
The following morning we woke-up and said a difficult goodbye to Judith and Tibet. They promised to come to Taiwan in Summer 2008. Here is hoping it all works out and that they can make it.
The Journey Home
So the journey home was also tough. On the way from Istanbul to Frankfurt there was a thunderstorm that seemed to get a little too close for comfort. Actually some lightning seemed to strike right outside the plane. We slept practically all the way from Frankfurt to Hong Kong and arrived as sick as two dogs as the people behind us had the flu and coughed all over us.
We landed in Hong Kong on a Thursday morning. Queenie left her iPod on the plane so we took a long time to get out of the airport as they had to recover it. In the evening I (Paul) had to attend a lecture on corporate finance. All good things do indeed come to an end…
Our family is truly international. My mother lives in England, my sister, nephew and brother-in-law in Turkey (and different parts of Turkey as my brother-in-law is on the ships), my father lives in South Africa and we live in Taiwan. Queenie’s father works in China and so we truly are in international.
Although we are a family apart, we are a family close at heart. We continue to love and care for each other even though the times we spend together are short. It is when time is a treasured commodity and not in abundance that you truly start to understand the impact and depth of your love for those you care for. Living apart is tough for us all but the love is real.
I guess the greatest lesson from this is that time is precious, and time with loved ones even more so. So next time you get mad with someone you love, put aside your differences and your pride, say you are sorry and get over it.
Time is short, too short.
Until the next journey then!
Queenie and Paul
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