On our recent holiday to Northern Europe, we had a unique opportunity to catch up with family, ever so briefly, who currently reside in Doha, Qatar. We decided to fly with Emirates Airlines for the first time. The reasons for this were varied including price, cabin crew reputation and simple "leg room". The Emirates route took us to our European destinations via Dubai. This was a marvellous opportunity for Him to catch-up with his brother whom he hadn't seen in 12 years, as they live on opposite sides of the world. As we age we often find ourselves wondering how much time we have left to 'reconnect', either with family or friends. None of us can possibly know the answer but certainly there is the feeling that 'time' is running out and we need to seize all opportunities.
Plans were made well in advance of leaving Australia. Doha, is about 1,000 kilometres from Dubai so our family decided to drive. Not only were they taking time out of very busy lives, running businesses etc. but their son (15) was in the middle of exams and he too made quite the sacrifice to visit with us. Having the bonus of their family car and an experienced driver in a foreign country was fabulous, and for this, He and I were extremely grateful!
Fast forward....I have a badly injured leg from a fall in Berlin a few days previous and confined to a wheelchair....bugger! There is an upside to this: wheelchairs go to the front of every queue when you are traveling and people are very willing to assist.
We arrived quite late into Dubai and either through tiredness or just being overwhelmed by what seemed to be "another planet" we both sat in silence, staring at a very unfamiliar, futuristic night-time landscape full of lights!
We had arranged with our family to meet for breakfast about 10am and I dare say after all these years we were all a little nervous. However, it wasn't long before any signs of nerves disappeared and everyone was engaged with a sense of urgency to 'catch-up' on the last 12 years! We were all able to carry on conversations with each other while listening to others, all in an effort not to miss a thing! Three hours passed without our seemingly taking a breath; the restaurant staff were getting a little agitated as lunchtime service loomed, so it was decided we should hit the Dubai Streets for some quality sightseeing.
.... I should say at this stage that a fascination, no let me correct that, an "obsession" with cars on the male side of His family has transcended many generations. So with Brothers in the front, Nephew and Sister-in-laws in the back we headed towards Dubai City with a continual commentary of "look at that Bentley", "nice Porsche" and various comments on size of engines, fuel capacity and how the experts rated them in the latest car journal! My sister-in-law and I exchanged knowing glances and were immediately kindred spirits. My impression of Dubai was akin to landing on the moon with a futuristic city having been built to accommodate humans! It was fascinating in every way. Our ultimate destination was the air-conditioned "Dubai Mall"! Boy-oh-boy what a mall! It covers some three kilometres and is jammed packed with Chanel, Valentino, Prada and every other possible world famous designer you could imagine. Combine that with diamonds, gold and the biggest fish tank in the world and you have some idea of the complete opulence that Dubai Mall has to offer.
As I was still confined to a wheelchair, ease of access to certain attractions was a little restrictive so my sister-in-law and I decided to let the boys go ahead whilst we had several coffees and the most marvellous chats. It wasn't long before we discovered we both share a love cooking and were soon exchanging recipes ideas etc. This was our very first opportunity to form a relationship as we had never lived in the same country and only met once briefly before. I think it surprised us both as to just how much we had in common and what an easy friendship we had formed in such a short period of time. For my sister in-law and I, the most important factor was for our husbands to reconnect as brothers: we were content to observe brotherly love.
As our time was limited, we had to cram in as much as we possibly could. After a rather late dinner and all feeling rather exhausted we retired for the night, meeting again the next morning to share breakfast and say farewell.
Although our time together had been a very short 36 hours, it was rich with experiences and emotions. We will never again let that amount of time slip by without being in each others' company. Time is running out and one must sort out priorities. Family should be cherished and every effort made maintain it. Make time, no matter how limited, and enjoy every moment, the alternative is regret and no-one wants to live with that.