Amidst the worries and concerns over our son and his family, there would be some very memorable moments during the remainder of 2009. The highlight had to be the trip across the Atlantic on the QM2 in May, followed by three fabulous weeks in the U.S.A, before travelling back over the pond. Visiting New York, St Louis, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Niagara were all memorable experiences, but the icing on the cake came in the form of spending a week with Buffy W and Lance in Los Angeles and at their beautiful ranch in Ojai.
At home things were not so perfect or relaxing. The helpers employed to assist Mey Ling with the children came and went as problems arose or they clashed with Mey Ling’s forceful personality. It seemed there was little medical help available to her here despite all the advances in the western world of healthcare. The best they could offer was an uncomfortable, prosthetic right arm and an ugly pair of built up shoes. She hasn’t persisted with either, but has undertaken basic English and Maths courses and started learning to drive in a specially adapted car.
Dylan turned one in the August and Angel three in the October. We had a week’s holiday in Zante in September, but as usual my Dad had a bad fall and ended up in hospital the first night we were away. The same thing happened again on Christmas Day, but no one was listening to me when I kept insisting my father was not safe to live alone.
It was January 2010 when our next drama with Mey Ling began. Her visa was close to expiring and an application had to be made for indefinite stay in England. Part of the requirement for this was to pass a test about life in the U.K. As this ridiculous multi-choice test consists of questions such as ‘Where does Santa Claus come from?’ and ‘What percentage of the population is Jewish?’ it seemed to bear little relevance to anything and we knew Mey Ling would probably have problems passing the test. So would I, to be honest.
There was an option to be excluded from the test if a doctor supplied a note to the Home Office, confirming the candidate would have physical difficulties attending the classes leading up to the test and getting to the test centre itself. Rightly or wrongly, they took this opportunity, as Mey Ling cannot walk far and transport would have been difficult with our son at work and two small children at home. A tight budget would not allow for taxis.
After following the guidelines as suggested, we thought little more about it, until Mey Ling received a letter from the Home Office refusing her indefinite stay, suggesting indelicately she return to Cambodia and take her family with her. The letter stated this was because she hadn’t taken the required test and strongly hinted there were others who were more worthy of staying in England. Anger and panic ensued, but there was thankfully sympathetic help out there.
The story hit the local newspapers, where reader’s comments and opinions differed immensely. It’s obvious the National Front is alive and well in the U.K. but as our son and the two children are British citizens it seemed to us and many this was rather an extremist suggestion. Eventually, the media attention attracted the television companies and the story was aired on the local news, throwing a very positive light on their predicament.
More nail-biting and anxious times lay ahead as we awaited a promised review from the Home Office. Mey Ling’s Cambodian passport expired during this time and the Cambodian Embassy in England refused to renew it, claiming she needs to do that in Cambodia. Catch 22 and a typical example of how the corrupt Cambodian culture operates.
Only fairly recently have we received the news Mey Ling has been granted a three year indefinite stay in the U.K., a bit of a contradiction in terms. She must now study and learn the correct responses to the Life in the UK test and pass it before she’s allowed to apply for British citizenship. When that time arrives she’ll be able to acquire a passport and who knows what will happen then?
At the end of 2010 the landlord and landlady of the property in which the family lived decided to part, resulting in a demand for the property to be returned. They had not been the kindest or most accommodating of proprietors, so in some ways it was a blessing. Unfortunately, the chances of young couples actually buying a house here are almost nil unless they come from extremely wealthy backgrounds, so the search for a suitable rented property began. Heavy snow and Christmas delayed any progress, but earlier this year the family secured a much better rental property in a more pleasant area with a very amenable landlord. We have everything crossed it will be the start of a better life for them, particularly as both children will be receiving some schooling by September.
Life doesn’t run smoothly or promise peace of mind. It’s a continuous battle to retain some semblance of normality and nothing is ever guaranteed. There are times when I could cheerfully strangle my daughter-in-law and I’ll openly admit it. When she posts damning comments about her life and family in England on Facebook for all to see, I’ll confess it makes me angry, but any criticism is greeted with stony silence as if she’s the one who is wronged.
When we look after the children all weekend so they can have a break away, then she sneaks off for a nap on return, my patience is stretched to the limits, but a wry comment means all hell will break loose once the princess is aware she’s been criticised. The list goes on.
But then other times, when laughter prevails and we see the strong, individual and determined character of Mey Ling, we’re almost proud to be different. When we witness the enquiring looks of strangers wondering about our family and how it all came about then it often gives us a sense of pride in being unusual. I doubt a day will pass when there isn’t some sort of niggle, concern or dispute and I’m pretty sure there’ll be more traumas ahead. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through all this it’s that there’s no point predicting or worrying about the future too much as we never know what a day can bring. Que sera sera.
Angel and Dylan. December 2010
Que Sera Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera Sera
Que Sera Sera – Doris Day