Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bonne Année

I have many many memories of New Years Eve's. The one that will always stand in my mind was 2001.

I was living in England at the time and was leaving for UT on January 8th. Mom, Dad, Lance and I went to Paris to celebrate the New Year. Most of you know that Dad had just recently had surgery for Bowel Cancer. We took the Eurostar from London to Paris.
Once we arrived in France, we went to McDonalds. The directions we were given at the Travel Agency to get to the hotel were WRONG. We had no clue how to get to the correct hotel. We walked around for a while and I knew it was time to take action. I stopped a man in the street and he knew no English. I spoke French and PHEW he was very helpful. I just remember Mom and Dad laughing at me speaking in a foreign language and I had to explain to this 'nice' guy that we weren't laughing at him :) Eventually we found the hotel.

We had booked two rooms and Dad headed right to Lance's room whilst I got to room with Mom. We had fun touring Paris and especially the Champs-Elysees and the Arc De Triomphe. We had a lot of fun traveling around on the underground tube station. I had to remind Dad a few times that 'Sortie' was the 'Exit'.

On New Years Eve we went to the Eiffel Tower. The underground tube was packed with tourists and French citizens. It was an amazing site once we got to the tower and the firework display at midnight was awesome. Once it was over, we headed back to the Underground. Oh my gosh, what a nightmare! There were people everywhere. I suffer from claustrophobia and people were literally pushing everyone everywhere. We were worried someone would fall into the track. I grabbed hold of my Dad and begged him to get me out of there. He said 'Come on love, let's go' and like a true hero he led us all out. Once out I had to stand still for a while to breathe. There was no chance we would have ever got onto the train.

Now as you can imagine, Paris on New Years Eve was party central. There were plenty of cabs, but not ONE available for us. We stood waiting for one for a while but we realized it would be impossible to get into one. Lance suggested we start walking. I thought this was a crazy idea. Where was the hotel? How would we find it? I just remembered how long we were on the train going there. There was no way we could walk.

The American saved the day. Lance picked up a map in the subway and he was our guide. Here is the punch line : WE WALKED FOR FIVE AND A HALF HOURS. This is time to praise Dad. He never complained ONCE during the whole time. We had to stop on several occasions so he could rest. Here was a man who had just endured surgery and yet no word of complaint. I don't remember what time it was but at some point during the journey, Dad needed to go the restroom/toilet. I saw a pub/bar open and I literally carried my Dad in. The manager told me we couldn't go in as my Dad was too drunk. I explained he was not drunk, but that he needed to use the toilet and we would be on our way. He shook his head and said NON Madam (No Miss) I said "Oui Monsieur" (Yes Mr) and helped my Dad to the toilet. Dad looked at me and said "Oh Maxine, you have got my genes haven't you?" I replied and said "Yes and I am glad I do".

We walked and talked for all those hours. I kept praying for a miracle. For a cab to arrive to pick us up, for the hotel to 'suddenly' appear. For an angel to come and fly us to our hotel. Really I was just praying for anything good to happen. I begged God for Dad's sake that a miracle would happen. When we arrived at the hotel, and what a sight that was :) I just remember questioning God and wondering why he hadn't helped us. Suddenly, I felt rebuked. I realized that God had helped us. Lance had a map! We were wearing good walking shoes! I spoke French! The bar was open for Dad to go to the toilet! No danger came upon us whilst we were walking! To me the most important thing was the good weather! It was cold, but it was not freezing, or raining, or snowing! I then realized we had lots to be grateful for. I apologized to my family for my complaining.
I think Dad literally fell in his bed that night and he looked so ill when he woke up.

Once back in London when checking in to the hotel, I told the clerk that we needed rooms with bathtubs. All Dad wanted was to soak in a hot bubble bath. Mom ran the bath for him and he told us all how wonderful it felt to be in the tub. We were watching the TV when there was a loud knock at the door. I answered and the guy told us that whoever was in the tub had to get out as it was leaking into the room below. I knocked on the bathroom door and explained to Dad that he needed to get out due to a leak. Again no complaint, he just did what he was asked right away.

During the night, my Mom had to call the paramedics and Dad was taken to the hospital. Dad came back to the hotel and by this point I was sick/ill. I remember spending my last week in England lying on the sofa. Dad was on one, I was on the other and we laughed as he said "We will never forget this experience will we?"

Little did we know that he was going to suffer with cancer again. Little did we know at this point that just 7 years later, he would not be able to enjoy New Years Eve. However, I am so very grateful that we celebrated the ones we have in between.

An amazing thing about this story is during out walk in France after our long walk, we saw a street sign which read "RUE DE SUFFREN" (I do have a picture of us at this sign. I am pointing to it with a stick and Dad is laughing. I will post it soon.)

"We love you Dad"

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