The prompt says “positive or negative”, sorry folks it is a negative one.
Saying Goodbye To Mum, Budapest, October 1996
My mum was diagnosed with cancer in the late spring/early summer of 1996, just as I was taking my final university exams. Throughout that summer, she was in and out of the hospital as they tried in vain to treat it, and she eventually died in the October, two weeks after her 50th birthday. That is the background to this memory.
After completing my exams, I was due to leave to start my job as a tour guide on the continent. Questioning whether I should stay and be with mum, she encouraged me to pursue the job I had wanted to do for so long, in fact she basically told me not to be so bloody stupid! So through most of her treatment and suffering, I was not in this country, apart from a couple of brief trips back between tours. It was tough not being there, especially knowing how hard it was for my dad and sister, but I knew it was what she wanted and that kept me from quitting.
As October began, I was midway through a 14 day tour of Central Europe. From my daily calls home, I knew my mum’s condition was worsening, until one night my dad shared with me the news that the nurse had told him if I wanted to see my mum again, I would need to be home in the next few days. Needless to say getting back then became my priority. The next day was a non-starter as we were on the road from Poland through Slovakia to Budapest, but I saw a good chance to fly home from there. On our arrival, I called my boss in Brussels and explained the situation. I laid it on the line, essentially telling her I was going regardless of whether or not she found a replacement guide (I had support from my coach driver, who fully backed my decision and was prepared to take the group on alone if necessary). Within half an hour, however, she had arranged for someone to fly in the next morning, and I booked my flight out for then too.
That night was extremely hard. All my thoughts were hundreds of miles away, but I had to be professional and give my clients my normal level of service as I took them for dinner and a “Budapest By Night” tour. As usual, we stopped and got off the coach at the Citadel, where there is a fantastic view down over the city, with the palaces, churches and bridges over the Danube beautifully lit up. It was, and remains, one of my very favourite views anywhere I have been. But that night was different. I knew that, when I got home, I would need to be happy with mum and then later strong for my dad, Nanna and sister, and had decided that I would say my own private goodbye to mum at that wonderful location in Budapest that night. And that’s exactly what I did in those few minutes, while my clients walked around and took photos.
The next day I flew home, and was fortunate enough to have two precious days with my mum before she passed away. The following year, I worked again on tours that included Budapest, and every week I would take my groups to the Citadel at night and spend a few moments remembering my mum in that very special place.
The last time I was there was 2002, I think it might be about time for another visit.