Our trip stalled for two years, but we’ve no regrets

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Grey nomads care for elderly parents
Greg and Dee have no regrets.

When Dee and Greg Bond retired early to head off on their endless around-Australia adventures, life looked simple and easy … and then it got complicated and hard!

The then 60-year-olds spent a year travelling, working at caravan parks to supplement their superannuation income, and basically adjusting to their exciting new lifestyle.

Then came two phone calls that changed everything.

The first was to inform them that Greg’s elderly mother had been rushed to hospital in Adelaide and was not expected to live more than six weeks. The second call came the following day. Dee’s father who lived in England had been taken ill with suspected bone cancer.

Reeling from the double whammy, the couple towed their Humpback Smartvan all the way to Adelaide, and parked it in front of Greg’s mum’s house. The couple didn’t know it then, but the caravan wasn’t to move for nearly two years.

“I said goodbye to my motherin-law, and the next day I was on a flight to the UK,” said Dee. “She told my husband she wanted to die at home, so he said he’d be her carer.”

What followed was two years of Dee flying back and forwards to England. She would spend four months at a time looking after her dad, and then six weeks or so back in Australia helping to look after her mother-in-law, who by that time was blind, had lung cancer and emphysema, and was on oxygen 24/7.

In the end, Dee’s mother-inlaw lived for 18 months rather than the predicted six weeks, and her father lived for two years after initial diagnosis. Both were 92 when they died.

While it all meant that Greg and Dee’s dream trip was very much put on hold, neither regret a moment.

“We felt it was a privilege to care for our elders, and wouldn’t have had it any other way,” said Dee. “Dad and I had some magic moments, chatting about all sorts of things and we also had a lot of fun with my mother-in-law who was very funny and said that time was the happiest she had been since her husband died 10 years earlier.”

Since then, Greg and Dee – now 71 – have travelled the world, camped extensively here in Australia, and plan to do more as soon as Greg has finished renovating the well-used 1983 van they recently bought.

“I feel for those who can’t travel because of family commitments,” said Dee. “But we did our stint … no regrets!”

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5 Responses to Our trip stalled for two years, but we’ve no regrets

  1. Well done for looking after parents and resuming travels afterwards
    Top effort

  2. Congratulations on caring for your parents. We have done a lot of travelling but are in your situation at the moment. It’s hard, but it is the right thing to do. All the best for your travels.

  3. Good on you both. You only get one lot of parents…you will never regret it. Now its your time….enjoy xx

  4. Good on you. My husband and I did the same last year when my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We dropped our travel plans and went to New Zealand to care for her. We don’t regret it either. We learnt so much during those special times with her. I would do it all again if I had to.

  5. Without your love and care they most likely would only have lived as long as you were originally advised.

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