Jonathan in his army days
It will be a miracle if I get through this entry without wiping away the tears. Rest assured, they would be tears of joy, of fond memories, as well as of deep sadness. I was going to LA to meet my uncle FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER! Exciting huh? Oh yeah..... Well i didn’t really know of my Uncle Jonathan’s existence until earlier this year when family circumstances led us to find him, on the internet of all places.. Where would we be without it? In a very different world I think. Well, hell yeah, what an amazing thing to do on my round the world trip, meet my own flesh and blood for the first time. OK, so here it is, I don’t want to dwell on this as i do not want to distract from this wonderful story of uncle and niece, of two independent, adventurous spirits meeting for the first time and having a blast.
Jonathan before i knew him
My uncle though is suffering from multiple terminal illnesses. Without going into details but in order to paint the picture, Jonathan, my dear, kind, funny, gorgeous uncle living in California all this time, is suffering like i wouldn’t wish for anybody. Suffering real bad, in and out of hospital, a cupboard full of drugs, and it breaks my heart... OK, pause, deep breath... OK, so you may remember I had the unplanned night out in Rarotonga before catching my delayed flight to LA at about 5am? Well yeah so I arrived to the good ‘ol US of A just a little tired and maybe a tiny bit hungover.. But hey it was a great night though wasn’t it hehehehe!! I recognised Jonathan amongst the crowd waiting at the airport and surprised him by coming up his behind (phnar!!) I immediately went over to hug this (surprisingly still) very English, well-mannered, lively gentleman who happened to have my mother’s bright blue eyes.
Yep, this was my uncle for sure. Where have you been all of my life? Well without going into detail again, my mother’s family became separated during childhood and were fostered out to different families. Jonathan later joined the army, first the British then the US. Jonathan had never really known what it was like to have a family. I was actually the first blood relative to ever visit him in California. Awesome huh? So did this feel weird to meet up like this? HELL NO!! We had so much to talk about, so much in common, and talk and talk and talk we did... for England I’m telling you!! Turns out that Jonathan has travelled all over the world too, it is in our blood. He has that special twinkle, the zest for life, that means he gets on with living with his terminal illnesses with a positive attitude, every day is precious.
With my room mate, Judy
After a lively drive back from the airport to Jonathan’s home in Fountain Valley
my heart melted when he showed me to my room. Oh, here we go, I am actually writing this on an aeroplane and have tears in my eyes now damnit. Happy tears right.. Jonathan and his partner Edward, who i was yet to meet, had specially decorated my ‘quarters’ for my visit. New bed, furniture and beautiful pictures and mementos on the walls. In the ensuite bathroom they had left me a huge fluffy bath robe, which i practically lived in the whole time i was there as it was lush. So thoughtful. I was then introduced to my very gorgeous and very cuddly room mate Judy, Jonathan’s beloved English fox terrier.
Me and Jonathan in fancy dress
Ahhhh I felt right at home here... That first evening we spent getting to know each other over a good bottle of Californian wine. I was amazed to hear all about Jonathan’s life. Next morning, lovely sunny day, so we decide it was time for the beach. I finally get to meet Jonathan’s partner Edward, gorgeous guy, great company and so kind. We all go to Laguna beach, Judy too, and enjoy a late lunch before watching a gorgeous Californian sunshine. I was treated like a princess the whole time and showered with gifts from both Jonathan and Edward. I am so lucky... We spent our time together, well, laughing mainly, talking, eating fab Californian cuisine, drinking fab Californian wine, swimming, Jacuzzi, cinema, doing screeching U turns in Beverley hills, messing about on the internet, and admiring John’s huge marine aquarium.
San Diego zoo
Oh yeah that was quite a story too. Jonathan had a little pink fish that he had named after me but while I was there cute little Karen was tragically speared by a sea urchin with a scary Cyclops eye only to be slowly eaten alive by the other fish... Oh dear!!! The real icing on the cake during my time here was our hilarious day out to San Diego
zoo. Jonathan was worried as he would need a scooter to get around the zoo, worried that I would be embarrassed!!!! Emmmmm...Well, that was until he had got to know me of course. You mentioned a scooter? Yeah i am getting one too... Cue one of the most memorable and fun days ever. Both of us loons attracting some very strange looks zipping around on our scooters ‘accidentally’ bumping into each other.
The evil sea urchin with the evil cyclops eye that speared karen
Dodgems yeeehaaahhh..... Abusing our walkie talkies, ‘whiskey tango delta, where are you? Over’ ‘Just about to go up the Asian passage, Roger’ hehehehehehehe.... In case you were beyond any doubt atall, yes we also shared the love of the smutty jokes and innuendo!! I really do not know how we managed to get through the day without being expelled from the zoo, but we didn’t and we saw pandas, giraffes, orangutans, rain makers everything. REBELS!!!! Such a fun day... Everyone we spoke to Jonathan would ask ‘can you see the resemblance? Do we look alike?’ This was all new for him, having family, a new concept... I felt so welcome here, an oasis from being on the road and constantly on my toes. I didn’t really feel like leaving, especially considering that my next stop was back to the unknown, South America, both intriguing and a little scary, the final continent on my round the world.
Doing a cheeky U turn in Beverley Hills
I left LAX feeling both joy and sorrow. Very sad for all of the lost years and the unimaginable suffering of a horrible illness, but so overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to get to know this special man, my uncle. Finding that we share this love of adventure, a love of nature, a love of a giggle and a good glass of wine. No feeling quite like it in the world.