Destination unknown…

Ever been whisked away? Margaret Johnston reflects on letting go and trusting others to lead the way.

To celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary and my 60th birthday, my husband wanted a surprise party to be arranged for me and I had made it clear that a holiday away would be best  for both of us. So, a surprise holiday it was to be. And I was about to discover what it was like having no control over a future event.

Our history is rich with courageous acts: from deciding to make our lives together in the first place, to leaving our homeland behind and coming to Australia, living in mining towns,  moving overseas to Malaysia, and back here as a fly-in fly-out family. Having found ourselves in some weird and wonderful places, I was very aware of what this ‘surprise holiday’ could  mean.

All I knew was the travel date. When the day came with no motivation to pack in advance or to fill the fridge for the family, I could barely fill half a suitcase and had to resort to leaving  money behind for the kids. Leaving the car and a last few words of instruction with my son, off we went to the airport.

Without engaging at check-in, I was told we were flying to Kuala Lumpur. On disembarking I received a birthday cake and as we walked through the airport I was told that we were staying  vernight and catching another flight in the morning. I overlooked it being 11.00pm, with no overnight bag (no he hadn’t packed anything for me) and only a cake to eat (which  turned out to be two cakes when the hotel gave one too). I trusted that he would keep me safe – it really didn’t matter what form of ‘safe’ it took.

At 7.00am we were back in the airport. Away from a view of a destination board, I sat looking out of a window when I heard my son’s voice. “Have you got your boarding pass for the  next flight?” he said.

He was standing there with his partner and our two daughters.

“Oh, wow!” I exclaimed. “Are you coming too?” And then, “Who’s looking after the pets?”

Of course, they were all in on it and had arranged everything at home. I was shocked. Then happy, and then sorry that I was not just going to be with my husband on holiday. But then  again, the possibilities of what might lie ahead were exciting.

Our destination was Koh Samui, Thailand, which meant nothing to me. I followed the flight path and saw the coastline of the island; I followed the line through immigration to our awaiting  taxis whilst laughing with my family about the pitfalls of deception. We were taken to our respective hotels as the ‘children’ wanted to stay at another hotel and the holiday  began. After dropping our luggage we met up for a walk along the beach, then lunch and separating again until the next day. Today was our wedding anniversary and we were to have  dinner without them. Tomorrow was my birthday and we would meet for dinner.

As we gathered again the following evening I was surprised by my brother and sister-in-law who had travelled from the UK to spend the holiday with us too. This time we all cried. It was a  fabulous holiday with all the people I would want to celebrate this special time. Although at times I felt uncertain and insecure, and I wasn’t sure it was the best thing to do to someone,  being known and loved meant I could trust their choices for me and they would also be comfortable with the outcome.

Margaret Johnston

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