Moving- a mountain of a task

Was it John Lennon who once wrote “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans’’.  We have lived this songline for the last few months as our carefully laid plans to uproot our lives, move house, demolish and begin to rebuild, have gone astray through unforeseen circumstances.

I am sitting here reflecting on those weeks of turmoil, sipping a D’Estree Bay Southern Flinders Shiraz, 2006,  surrounded by the remnants of our household – about 20 boxes and a dozen milk crates.  The rest, all 37 tonnes of it has been delivered yesterday to our new address at idyllic Hindmarsh Island.  It has been a mammoth effort for which I unashamedly claim major responsibility for managing the packing thereof. The smooth, rich drop of wine has lulled me into a mellow mood which adds a lyrical tone to what has been a traumatic time.  Otherwise, perhaps I would weep.  We planned to pack up our marital home together in leisurely manner sifting through two lifetimes of stuff, individually and collectively discarding what was no longer needed.  (We were crammed to the rafters with two households of stuff since our re-marriage in 2008). Then we would move out into rental accommodation at Hindmarsh Island for 6-9 months, demolish the old house (which my husband, Olivier, lived in for 30 years with his late wife, Colette) and rebuild our dream retirement on the same site.  We are following many astute baby boomers in our project and our house plan is indeed designed for leisurely indoor/outdoor living, safety and security.

The boulders in this smooth path to the Yellow Brick Road of Retirement Living began with the untimely hospitalisation of Olivier’s mother in France in late July, followed by his mercy dash to see her before she died of pneumonia.  Sadly, she passed away half an hour before he reached her, while he was at the hospital gates. Qantas had arranged a compassionate flight within 36 hours.  However, while he was doing the right thing as the only son, organising the funeral of his mother at the ancient St Martin’s Basilica in St Remy de Provence, I was left to pack up our household because the bulldozers were still booked for September 28 (Yes, next Tuesday.)

And I still went to London in between time (to see the daughter’s family) and France for our annual four-week holiday because we had prebooked (and prepaid) to go on August 19.   Gizelle was a hearty 91-year-old at the time of booking and I walked out of the house full of boxes and onto a glorious Qantas 380 business class flight to London that day.  

But lesson 1 in life is that we never escape our problems and so we returned on Thursday, September 16, to that house full of furniture, files, boxes and bric-a-brac with the removalists (Yanny and Ra) due on the doorstep on Saturday, September 18 at 8am.

Yet, life can be merciless. Friday night I was struck down by a ghastly gastro bug I brought home on the flight and instead of wallowing in the glory of my organisation, skills I wore a pathway to the loo. Son, Tyson took me to the doctor, and after flaking out for a few hours, he drove me to Hindmarsh Island ahead of the moving van, where I lay on a sleeping bag for a few more hours. I felt as frail as a newborn kitty and here is where the benefits of marriage come into play – husband orchestrated the delivery of the boxes I had packed with the precision of a conductor.

All the furniture was placed or stored by 10pm (a 12 hour exercise!) and I summoned enough strength to pour two glasses of Poet’s Corner red and assemble a plate of French cheeses – including Oliviers favourite, Rochefort, and sat beside him to toast our success.

Bit dear, darling Oli, who had worked so hard in my absence, fell asleep on the couch without a sip of the red wine passing his lips.

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