Flying Home

There was a very strange feeling at Sydney Airport today. Though of course there are times when it can be reasonably quiet there, there’s always at least some “buzz” around the place. When I caught the train to the airport, there was only one other person who got off at the same time as me. She was already wearing a face-mask.

All of the Virgin check-in facilities were, of course closed, and there was only one Jet Star baggage counter open. I don’t know what it was like at the Qantas terminal (as Qantas doesn’t fly to Ballina Byron), but at the “discount airline terminal” things were pretty quiet. There was only one line of security, and on the inside there were only two or three restaurants or bars open. As I waited for my flight to leave, I grabbed a beer. (Sadly, the Qantas lounge was also closed).
There was lots of safe distancing going on, and at least a couple of warnings from the staff, recommending that we pick up one of the Fly Well packs.
“The hand sanitiser packs look like condoms”, a friend joked.
Pretty much everyone on the flight wore face masks, which is just as well because there wasn’t a free seat on board.

“You’re not separating the seats anymore?”, I heard one passenger ask a flight attendant. You could sense his disappointment, as he looked down the aisle, hoping there might have been at least one free seat. I felt the same.

As we arrived at Ballina Airport, I looked out for Michelle, who had come down from Lismore (about thirty minutes drive) to pick me up. Immediately, I noticed no one was allowed in the airport. There were maybe thirty or so people waiting OUTSIDE the terminal. Michelle waited in the car until she saw me arrive.

And so I’m baaaaaackkk….

This is the first time I’ve been home since Christmas. I had hoped to come home earlier for Easter, but everything has been on hold since COVID-19.

At just over eight hundred kilometres away, it’s about eighty minutes to fly from Sydney to Lismore. Announcing the resumption of a more “regular” pattern of flights, I managed to score a round ticket price of $70, plus $30 for securing front row seats. Bargain.

On the kitchen table, I was greeted by the final print editions of the local newspapers. There’s the 6-day a week daily paper, and the weekly freebie. “Jack only buys The Northern Star to see who has died”, Pat told me. I’m not sure how he’ll do that now.

As part of this trip I was planning to visit family member, “Young Margy” who has spent the last few weeks battling pancreatic cancer (the same cancer that killed her mother only a few years ago). I’d organised some cross-border passesm so we could head up to Brisbane on Monday.

Sadly, she died just before midnight last night.

I love this photograph from Christmas 1966. Margy was nine months older than me, and so we spent a lot of our early years together. I used to look up to her, and I loved when the Hyland and Pepper families would come home to Lismore.
 I love this photograph of five generations of some of the very strong women in my family: Tootsy, Mum, Granny, Margy and young baby, Jacqueline. Emily wasn’t even born yet!!

Much love to the whole family at this time.

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