Ok, I’ll admit two things up front: I like books about families and how they deal with challenges and grief, and I am addicted to books written by travelers. It may seem odd to cycle 2,000 miles in 49 days across eight countries in order to deal with your grief over a son dead all too soon. But not to this couple, and after reading Eileen Sutherland’s account of their trip, not to me either.
A very important part of the book is how well this couple knew each other, how they take care of each other, how well they share the joys of the journey, and as someone mourning my wife of 40+ years, how well they handle their grief.
Read this section, and see if you see what I see:
‘Al, do you know where the map is?’
`I’m not going to get maps out at this time of night Eil,’ he muttered through toothpaste foam.
`Is there a time lock on maps then? Can we only look at them at certain times of day?’ I said,
warming to my theme. `Could be tricky if we’re lost at a time when we’re not allowed to open them.’
`That’s enough’, he said, `there’s no need to take the mick. I’m just saying it’s late, we’ve got a full
day’s cycling ahead of us tomorrow and we’ll make ourselves tired by looking at maps at this
I grinned at him. Al’s great skill is sounding reasonable when he’s prevaricating and I’m familiar
with the technique.
As a last ditch attempt I said, `You do know where we’re going don’t you?’
He smiled across at me, `Ah the old tracking instincts,’ he said getting into bed, `they’ve never
let me down yet.’
Then he kissed me and turned over, taking the duvet with him.
Gosh, that seems so real to me. My wife always wanted to have a map to consult, but couldn’t read any of them worth a darn. I love maps, but greatly prefer to follow my nose — and am almost never lost. And we were very, very happy together for many years.
Al and Eil are too, despite the loss of their son. Heart warming, inspiring, tragic, all of that and more. I hope Eil will write a sequel about their further attempts to build a new life.
Robert C. Ross