An Ode to Jac
On 21st January, Jac left the UK with a one-way ticket to join us in Thailand. And little did she know that on 21st March that she would be back in the UK, rather than flying on to Australia and New Zealand as planned to meet her husband, Simon. We have so enjoyed our time with Jac that I thought I'd write an Ode to Jac, my dear sister.
For the last two years, Jac suffered from severe depression. And during that time, she would read our blogs and think "When I am better, I am going to join those GrownUpTravellers". To our delight, at the end of last year, she let us know that she was joining us. A few people have wondered how Simon felt about her decision, but he was thrilled for Jac, having travelled with his work for many years, he recognised that it was Jac's time. He really is a lovely man. Thank you, Simon.
There is just 2.5 years difference between Jac and I. We used to share a bedroom as kids until our eldest sister, Dawn (who we both adore), went off to University. During our childhood, many people thought we were twins, as Jac inherited the "short" gene, so we were the same height.
Its been over 40 years since we have spent any prolonged time together. How would we cope? How would Tim cope? Gratefully, we three sisters have always been close, despite not spending that much time together. And Tim is very laid back.
The Domestic Goddess
As soon as Jac arrived, she got stuck in and helped to look after me. I had just come out of the hospital having had my Appendix out. Whenever we stayed in the same apartment, Jac would get up first and make us a cup of tea. Tim was relieved from his duty in more ways than one.
Tim says that she is just like our dear Nan; she never stopped, always bustling around - and that's Jac. She brought a book to read, and in two months, despite finding the book fascinating, she only read a couple of chapters. So here are some photos I managed to capture of her - clearing up spilt milk - literally, in fits of laughter, cooking, making tea, rearranging the fridge where we lived in Ho Chi Minh, ironing (what's that about? we haven't ironed hardly in 855 days!) and looking after a Danish couple's baby! Meanwhile, Tim and I were chillaxing!
Not only did Jac keep busy being the domestic goddess she is, but she also got stuck into any activity we decided to do.
Jac has a very creative streak. She takes some cracking photos, and I have learnt what she does, so hopefully, our photography will improve. She also wrote some blogs for me and did this so effortlessly; far quicker than me, and they were a great read.
And as you can see, she enthusiastically joined in with dancing and creating, with such gusto.
Jac loves to shop! Not just for herself. She has a huge, generous heart and enjoys finding gifts for her family and friends.
I knew she's love Hoi An, in Vietnam and she had a field-day having clothes being made for her in Yaly Couture. Being of a petite frame, she finds it difficult to find clothes that fit her in the UK, so having outfits made with the help of Penny the assistant was a dream. Jac has such style and knew instinctively what would suit her. Another thing for me to learn! I'm not sure though about her choice of sandals made from tyres. Recycling at its best?
While we were there, she wanted to treat an assistant at another tailor shop who helped us. Talk about beyond the call of duty; Jac even hopped on a scooter to buy some tickets for a show the young lady had never seen!
Meanwhile, during her two months away, she kept in touch with Simon daily and posted him a Valentines card, which remarkably arrived on 14th February 😍.
"Ready for a Sundowner?"
Jac, like me, is a bit of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. We were surprised when she suggested we went for a Sundowner while in Phnom Penh. It became a bit of a habit! But it wasn't all cocktails. She got a taste for the Vietnamese Egg Coffee and that coconut she drunk in Siem Reap was bigger than her head!
Love of Animals
And Jac loves animals. She has always wanted a dog but was only allowed a guinea pig. (She was dedicated to Tammy and her offspring, unbeknown to us this guinea pig was pregnant when Jac received her on her 11th birthday).
While we were together, any chance of stroking a domestic animal, especially dogs, Jac was in heaven. Perhaps one day she will get her own.
Connection with People
And it's not only animals; Jac loves people. She has an amazing knack of connecting with people and remembering details about them. Both Tim and I admire her sense of joy when talking with people. She lights up and lifts them up as well. A true gift.
Many of the people Jac has met along the way she has continued to keep in touch with. They are very fortunate as she is a very giving and caring friend.
Even being away from home, she continued to keep in touch with her family and friends. She has so much love that she pours out freely.
Now, Jac isn't a saint. We all have our funny ways, and some of us have more than others. Living with her, sometimes in one room can have its moments.
Tim says I purr instead of snore; with Jac, it's more like a roar! And what's with all the fphrum, fphrum noises in the morning! I won't mention anything about her time keeping cos she'd get annoyed! But to be fair, as she reiterated, she never missed a plane, boat, bus or train! And her mess! I would say it spreads like a virus, but that isn't appropriate in the present climate. It spread like butter or like sunbeams on the wind. What's more, she didn’t stop talking! Tim and I are relatively quiet, so it took us a time to get used to her chatter. However she also learnt from us, and I think became more aware of our quietness and followed suit. She is very particular, so if you ever make her a coffee, make sure you give her an expresso with small jugs of hot water and hot milk on the side. Many cafes in Bangkok, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan now know how Jac likes her coffee. It wouldn't surprise me if "Jac's Coffee" was added to their menus.
I admit that at times I would get annoyed and would be short with Jac, taking criticism or alternative opinions too personally. When we were in Phnom Penh at lunch with people Jac met from church, one of the ladies very wisely said that I will learn more about myself living so closely with my sister, and she was so right. I have learnt loads while spending time with Jac. One time I felt sad that I was distancing myself from her, so we had a chat, and she was brilliant. So understanding and the distance between us vanished immediately. I will always treasure that moment.
Saying all that, Jac has a fabulous sense of humour, and even with Tim's ribbing, she would burst into laughter. Oh, we had so many funny moments, times when we had tears rolling down our faces, Tim would be in stitches, and I would nearly wet myself!
So many guffaws, chuckles and snickers, so many giggles, sometimes at inappropriate moments. She has such an incredible joie de vie, and I can hear her giggle as I write.
I hope that during the challenging times worldwide we are facing right now, that Jac keeps her lightness and spirit. It is a wonderful tonic.
Our Last Morning
So here we are, Day 855. Just a week ago she was planning to fly to Australia and then meet Simon in New Zealand. With the big C, all that changed. Her son Joel in London had the virus, Simon was also unwell, and her daughter Abi and fiancé Paul are expecting their first child in June......and so sensibly she decided to fly back home.
The morning of her flight, there was more laughter. Jac had brought some pretend tattoos; we were going to make out that we'd been to a Tattoo parlour to shock our family and friends! Tim chose the gecko, I, a butterfly and Jac three little ladybirds to represent us. (I think she is the big one).
All packed up, thankfully with Aussie Angela's supersized suitcase carrying all Jac's gifts and new clothes, we headed off to the Airport. Some last-minute presents to buy, a quick drink and a cherished hug, we waved our dear Jac au revoir. Safe journey Jac, we love you.