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airmail postal service – two letters a week, or about the same time to book a very scratchy telephone call from a major city. This instant stuff was amazing.

Immediately, the contents for parcels started to be gathered; at first we didn’t know what was needed as opposed to what would be a luxury. We did know that space in the accommodation was at a premium, but that the right thing would be more than just a physical item. That ‘right thing’ turned out to be smell! I can’t recall exactly the item that carried this sensory activator, but it may have been a home washed pillow-slip – as simple as that. It generated a gush of home remembrance as it was unpacked in the pod and briefly, amidst the noise and smell of that intense community, home was there that night.

The parcels generated links in our local community we hadn’t expected. In the sweet shop the desired yoghurt bars were identified as ‘must-haves’. In the news agent, the weekly order of The Week was always waiting. From the chemist some girlie paint and gloss. A piece of sheet music from home. In the post office, the parcel (always close to the weight

limit) was weighed and stamped, the declaration completed and with good wishes from the counter-staff, sent on its way. The staff in all these places became interested, they engaged in the support process, willingly – it was so encouraging – they wanted her safe.

As the tour approached the end, the Sqn was in touch again to brief us on the expected outline of this, the most highly anticipated part of the exercise, explaining the decompression phase in Cyprus and the need to monitor the Brize flight arrival’s website, once we knew the flight number.

Receiving our daughter home straight from Brize was wonderful; we were all extremely happy. However, she was very clear that she was still mentally and physically going through a relocating process. It took about a week for Gemma to come to terms with the apparent busy irrelevance of a lot of normal life in the UK and to not be overwhelmed by the commercial intensity of a supermarket. So, after lots of sleep and care she surfaced in this part of the world – she came home.

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Envoy Spring 2013 17

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