An expatriate dilemma can come in lots of different guises. But this post is about the dilemma many expatriates face when a close family member is in the final phase of their life and about to shuffle off this mortal coil.
Anyone who follows this blog will know that after three years in Thailand I returned home to the UK in 2011 to take care of my Mum who entering the middle stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. There were other reasons as well, but it was, mostly about making Mums quality of life better.
I spent over a year caring for her before I along with my brother where left with no choice but to find Mum a caring home where she could live out her days in comfort and safety. Fortunately, with the aid of the much maligned(wrongly in my opinion) British Social Services, we found a great place, an old hotel, converted to a care home, nestling in the Trent Valley alongside the river.
I was then left with the dilemma of staying in the UK or returning to my expatriate lifestyle. A difficult decision, given that I knew Mum was probably not going to be around for much longer. Unfortunately by this time Mums illness had progressed and she had little cognitive ability. She looked like my Mum but there was nothing else there, no recognition, no spark. Just dead eyes that gave nothing away.
I decided to return to Thailand fully expecting to return to the UK sooner rather than later to say my final goodbyes if I got enough warning of Mums expected demise.
But how do you plan for such an event, knowing you may not see a close family member again? Have an open ended air ticket that you might not use or take a chance and hope that when the end comes you can jump on an available flight and get home before its all over.
In the end I bought a flexible return flight which could be extended(at a price) for up to a year. That year has now passed. A year in which Mum has continued her slide into that dark hole that is the life of an Alzheimer’s sufferer. So when I got the news this past weekend that Mum was indeed finally knocking at deaths door I faced another expatriate dilemma.
My thoughts were do I jump on the first available flight and hope to get back to my Mums bedside for the final moment or should I wait until she had actually passed away. My heart said the former, but given that I knew her condition and the fact that she was not alone I decided against this option. Hard hearted? Lack of love for my Mum? Selfish? All questions I asked myself.
Not really, is the answer I have come up with, you see I actually said my goodbyes a long time ago to my Mum when she still had some cognition. I know she won’t be alone and I also know that she will pass peacefully. Its just that I might not be physically there.
Well I travel tomorrow and Mum is still hanging on to her life, she saw in her 93rd birthday yesterday, although of course she was unaware. Perhaps she will still be around when I get home on Wednesday evening. I hope so, but if not, like I said above I know she will have gone in peace.
So there you have it, how I personally have dealt with this expatriate dilemma. Needless to say I won’t be around the blogging scene for a while, but I will certainly check out your thoughts if you have any.
How would you deal with a similar expatriate dilemma?
Its now 16/10/13.
I have just arrived back in Thailand.
Mum passed away on 22/9/13 so I was home with my brother to be present at her passing. A hectic few weeks has followed centered around the funeral and sorting out the various issues that families have to deal with when a loved one dies.
The bureaucracy has been easier to deal with than I expected and 10/10 for the joined up services that the various UK government departments and other agencies now have in place when someone dies.
Now I am the head of our family and perhaps reminded even more of my own mortality.