Thursday, 27 June 2019

When the Family Flies In

Caped crusaders - my cousin and I in 1965

24 hours before my cousin, her husband and three kids were due to fly into London from NYC to visit her mum (one of the two elderly aunts often mentioned on these pages) last Summer, her youngest daughter suddenly fell ill. A routine visit to the doctor quickly escalated into an immediate hospitalisation lasting 8 months, during which time she endured multiple blood transfusions, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and ultimately a life saving bone marrow transplant. She's 13 years old. There were many dark days, but throughout them all, my cousin's amazing daughter maintained a positive, upbeat outlook that most of us would have found utterly impossible to contemplate. To cut a very long story short, she is out of hospital, back at school and doing well, although she cannot travel for at least the next 12 months and has to be extremely wary of catching any kind of infection.

 A couple of the stops on our reconnaissance trip

My cousin lived at the hospital with her daughter for the entire 8 month period so never did manage a UK trip in 2018, but in the middle of May this year, with her daughter recovering well at home, she flew into London alone for a brief visit to her 89 year-old mum. I travelled down and caught up with them both for three memorable days. As I've mentioned few times in other posts, my cousin and I were brought up in the same house as virtual brother and sister. She's my closest confidante and oldest friend. Whenever we've been together over the past 25 years, it's been with various members of her fabulous family in tow - and I wouldn't have had it any other way. This time however, we were truly able to wind down, kick back and properly catch up - it was much needed. And drink, we did that too. Venue reconnaissance for her mum's forthcoming 90th birthday party in August took my cousin and I to a selection of fine hostelries around the East End of London. All in the name of research, obviously.


Julia Jacklin's second LP, 'Crushing', is every bit as strong as her 2016 debut - actually, it's possibly even better. It's essentially a break-up album, so, with my domestic situation being as it is, I've consciously avoided interacting with it too often, but it comes highly recommended nonetheless.

Julia Jacklin - When the Family Flies In


Charity Chic said...

Your cousin's daighter sounds like a fighter Swede
Great JJ song as well

Rol said...

Here's hoping the recovery is complete soon.

I keep meaning to devote a bit more time to Julia Jacklin.

John Medd said...

I particularly like reconnaissance trips.

Brian said...

Who was that caped crusader? It's always nice to have a close relative like that, Swede. Your cousin's daughter has experienced way too much. A toast to her. I believe optimism and a fighting spirit is at least half the battle. Her story is inspiring.

C said...

The story of your cousin's young daughter is sobering and inspiring - here's wishing her continued improvement. Perhaps she's inherited some superhero genes from her mum - what a fab photo!

Swiss Adam said...

We've been through that with our son, bone marrow transplants and chemo. No fun at all. Kids are resilient, they bounce back much quicker than adults do.

Chris said...

Happy to hear you got to spend quality time with your oldest friend and catch up. Children will serious illness is heartbreaking but from what you say there is improvement there.

Have not listened to Julia Jacklin but keep hearing good things about her

Alyson said...

You have mentioned your cousin often so I'm so glad you were able to catch up with her recently - Real therapy and I like the sound of the reconnaissance trips.

As for her daughter, I have an old friend who went through the same with her child. After months in hospital they both eventually got home and she is now back to full health. Lets hope your cousin's daughter is back to full health soon too. A parent's worst nightmare but somehow, as SA says, kids do bounce back much quicker than adults.

Good to see you back here and in the comments boxes - You have been missed.

Tinpot said...

So, those "East End hostelries" ... any recommendations/endorsements/reviews? For many years a hobby of mine has been maintaining a list of the best pubs in London. "The List" has become legendary among my friends, and a necessary part of any trip to London. I don't get there as often as I would like to so I rely on the internet and the kindness of strangers to keep it current and valid.
Good to hear your niece (?) is doing well. The courage of kids is an inspiration to us all.

The Swede said...

Many thanks for these kind words. It was really lovely to spend some time with my cousin as she found herself able to breath and destress for the first time in so many months.
Tinpot, the bars that particularly stick out in my memory are The Gun on the Isle of Dogs, The Golden Fleece in Wanstead and The Boathouse on banks of the Barking Creek.

Tinpot said...

I see my "thank you" for the pub info didn't appear.
Trust me, it was eloquent and moving; so much so that I couldn't possibly recreate it.
But thank you, again.

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