Belated Cruise

Before my father died he wanted to take one last vacation with the family.  Unfortunately he died just a few days before we were supposed to leave.  So this year, during school vacation, my family and I decided to take our “Last Cruise” as a family of four.  Like the slightly morbid and irreverent family we are, we decided that everyone should go—so we brought Dad.  He is small and doesn’t take up much room, so we didn’t have to buy him a ticket. We did bury some of him next to my brother, but he was a wanderer and explorer, so we wanted to honor that too.

So the whole family went on a cruise, and we had a great time.  It was really special to just be together, with no distractions or work.   We didn’t take too many photos because we were just having so much fun!

We were active most of the trip, trying to avoid the consequences of the open buffet!  Mom and I jogged each morning, and twice we climbed the Rock Wall.  The first time my mother didn’t make it to the top, so she dragged us back the next day and she rocked it! (Bad pun intended!  Sorry!)  She made it all the way to the top and rang the bell!

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Doing it another time allowed me to try the harder path the second time around.

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Elliot and I had lots of sib bonding time.  Though I kept getting the evil eye from the single girls because they thought we were a couple.  Apparently we don’t look alike as much as we did when we were young!

(Example A: Stone Cold Fox)

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Elliot had picked out a shore excursion in Cozumel Mexico that included ATVs and wild animals.  I was a little wary at first, but we had a lot of fun.

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They were raising money for conservation efforts and we were able to meet some of the species they were trying to help.

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In Cozumel, I passed a store named “Deniz”  and HAD to stop in.  Of course, the owner was Turkish.  He had moved to Mexico five years ago.  He thought his path in life was set, he was in his fifties and had never been married.  But, as it happens, he fell in love with the woman he hired to help run his store.  They married a couple years ago–he is 60,she is 35, and they have the most beautiful baby, named Deniz!  So I got to practice my Turkish, and he was excited to speak it.

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It was a lovely trip, which sounds a little like bragging after hearing about that cruise ship that had to be towed in from sea while the passenger reenacted Lord of the Flies.   It was a vacation, and a time to let go and say good bye.  As I mentioned previously, we had brought some of my father’s ashes with us.  We used this time to scatter his ashes around the Caribbean Sea.  We thought he would enjoy it as a (partial) final resting place.  So we returned to NH with one less corporeal family member, but some good memories of all four of us on vacation.

Survived!

I have survived the first week of school.  It went pretty well.  I missed teaching and the kids.  There is something special about the first week of school, when the kids are a little scared and trying to make a good impression.

A lot of my students from last year have come looking for me and have asked how my father is.  They knew he was ill, but are surprised when I tell them he died.  A couple times little girls have actually teared up.

Being back I knew people might ask how it was to be home and how my father is. What I didn’t expect from people is the comment…Wow you had a really long vacation!  They seemed to skipped over the terminal illness and death thing.   I had a particularly awkward encounter with  my neighbor.  First she commented on my long vacation, I said I went home because my father was very ill—he had cancer.  So then she asked what kind.  I said prostate because I don’t know how to say endocrine tumor in Turkish.  She said, oh..that’s not so bad, my father has that, then she asked how my father was now.  Dead.   I think she has been avoiding eye contact.

On my quest to have a more balanced life, I have been going to bed earlier this year.  It makes such a difference to go to sleep at 10 instead of 12.  It makes the morning so much less painful.  On the other hand, it is a habit that makes mornings come early.  It means that by 9 am this morning, I had showered, blown my hair dry, had breakfast, and walked the dog.  I had tried to sleep in, but to no avail.  I have a wedding to go to tonight.  I will have to take a nap to be able to stay conscious past 10!

Another Month Gone

I am still having trouble posting regularly.  I feel like it has something to do with the intrinsic nature of sharing and blogging.  With blogging so often you give up pieces yourself, you share your experiences, share your thoughts, and share yourself.  I still really don’t want to go out much.  I just don’t feel social.  Getting together with good friends is one thing, making small talk is another.  I will attempt to post more, as I am now back in Turkey and taking trips.  It just feels like I have blogging inertia.  Fellow bloggers, do you ever feel blogless?

Another Day

Thursday night my father died.  We were so stunned and exhausted that we came home, had a drink and went to bed.  It took us a long time to go to sleep.  I know this because I slept with my mom that night.  Neither one of us wanted to sleep by ourselves.

Friday we woke up, and the sun was still shining, and my father was still dead.  I made pea soup, called my husband, researched how to submit obituaries and managed not to die of sadness.

Saturday I woke up, and the sun was still shining, and my father was still dead.   It helped to know that my husband was coming in Saturday night.  My brother’s girlfriend is amazing.  She was (and is) so helpful.  She was at the hospital all afternoon on Thursday, brought sandwiches, and helped advocate for my father.  She drove down to Boston and picked up my husband from the Boston airport at 11:30 PM and then drove 2 hours north to our home.

I have felt so supported by my family and friends, people sending food and calling.  Many of my friends emailed me such wonderful things.  One friend tried to move heaven and earth to get food and flowers delivered to my remote home.  Another went through my closet finding clothes I asked to be sent to the States with Bülent.    The last few days have been extremely difficult, but with the help of friends and family it has been, maybe not less painful, but a more supported journey.

Earthquake in Turkey

On October 23rd at around 1:40 pm a 7.2, on the Richter scale, earthquake hit the region of Van in Eastern Turkey.  The hardest hit city was that of Ercis.  The Eastern region of Turkey is the poorest and least developed are of Turkey, as well as one of the most seismically active regions. 

The situation began tragically and has become more grim. Currently the death toll is 534 and hundreds are still missing, buried among the debris. 2,300 people are injured.  Over 10 thousand people are homeless, their homes collapsed or structurally unsound, they are suffering from the cold and intermittent rain and snow. 

There were people being pulled from the rubble through Tuesday and Wednesday, including the amazing rescue of a premature infant, mother and grandmother.   However, after five days, the focus is switching from search and rescue to relief efforts.   There are fundraising efforts though public and private foundations all over the country.  My friend has been collecting and organizing ways to help through physical and monetary donations. Please visit her blog to see how to help.  Also, Western Union is not charging a transfer fee when you donate to the Van earthquake relief.

This week, I had many calls and emails from friends, asking if I was alright.  We were safe, far from the earthquake, but also far from danger.  Ankara still has earthquakes, but we live in an earthquake resistant building, in a neighborhood full of them.  One of the reasons the people of the Van area suffered so much property damage and loss of life is that it is an impoverished area, with self built homes made of sun dried bricks.

All week I have been watching the news coverage, the tears falling down the lined faces of the tazes, the children standing in front of piles of rubble waiting for their parents to be uncovered. The men and women poking through the debris looking for their family members.  I have always loved Turkey, and the Turkish people, the warmth and strength of them.  This week has added another aspect to the relationship. When you grieve for something, or with someone, it or they becomes more a part of you.  Right now I am grieving with my second country, for our people.