November 7 – Waimate to Melbourne
This is a travel day. We left Waimate with plenty of time to make our flight. Most of the drive was sunny. Our only stop was at a bakery in Ashburton, where we treated ourselves to coffee and a Chelsea bun and picked up sandwiches for our lunch. In Christchurch we turned in the car and caught the shuttle to the airport.
We’re on an Air New Zealand flight, halfway between Christchurch and Melbourne. Though we left at 3:30 p.m., I’ve just re-set the clock on my computer. It’s now 3:30 p.m. Melbourne time, two hours into the flight. Taking seven and a half weeks to cross so many time zones beats jet lag.
I’m almost dry now.
Being from North America, we were surprised to be offered a free meal and free drinks. I was just tucking into my Thai-inspired rice salad and fish cake when the thought occurred to me: One of the blessings of no-meal flights has been that I reach my destination only slightly wrinkled instead of food stained.
I’m still not food stained, but just as I had that thought I bumped my full glass of red wine – toward me. The entire middle of my body was suddenly soaked in Merlot.
The stewardess handed me a stack of napkins and a barf bag to hold them. Robin, who’d told me I shouldn’t call myself uncoordinated just because I swept a wine glass off the counter in Walnut Cottage and smashed it to slivers on the tile floor, decided I had accurately described myself.
How brilliant of me to have worn black slacks and a red-and-black patterned blouse. I may smell like a drunk when we arrive in Melbourne, but at least it won’t show.
The onboard movie is “Mama Mia”. I loved the movie when I saw it in Napa with Carla, my sister-in-law. We were having a girls’ day, wandering around the farmers market and among the foodie paradise that surrounds it. Eric was in hospital, but he wanted Carla to have some time off from being his constant support.
It was a special day for all of us, though it meant we had less time with Eric. He loved food and gourmet cooking and found vicarious pleasure in our sampling the fare at a new vegetarian restaurant and our recounting of the Abba fest at the movie.
In spite of his being in pain, unable to keep food down, unable to walk, he was full of talk about politics and religion, two of his favourite subjects. But I’ll never forget his bursting into tears when it was time for me to go. I knew then he feared he wouldn’t see me again, but I wasn’t prepared for his death to come just three months later.
The in-flight movie takes me back to that day in Napa. I couldn’t watch it. I figured I’d cry all the way through the upbeat tunes. Carla and I enjoyed it so much, and she was hoping to take Eric. He never got the chance.