yesterday morning because my only first cousin was going back to London after a fortnight here. He came over to try and sort out some issues with his elderly father, my father's brother. It has not been a holiday for him. He has left his father in hospital, waiting to go into a nursing home. His uncle, my father, is three years older but in better health and that has made the situation more difficult for everyone.
I had not, much to my frustration, been to the airport in over twenty years. The opportunity for travel has not been there. Now there is a new terminal. There are flights all over Australia. There are more international flights - to Auckland, to Singapore, to Hong Kong and to other places. The planes seem much the same to me. My cousin was flying out on a young craft that has only been in service a couple of years. The close family friend who was there with us knows about these things. He had looked it up. He knew the registration number of the plane and all the intimate details about it.
I am not particularly interested in those things. All I would ask of an aircraft and those in the cockpit is that I get there safely. Despite that I do appreciate there is something extraordinary about the way those enormous things take off and land. My father loves to watch them.
He also likes watching the people and so do I. Who are they? Where are they going? Where have they been? Why?
There are people eating breakfast in the cafe area where we have coffee while we wait for boarding on my cousin's flight to be announced. Some of them look relaxed, others look tense and anxious. As flights are called there are last minute hugs and handshakes, only a few people go without farewelling anyone. I wonder who they are, why they were here and where they are going too.
At last my cousin's flight is called. There are hugs and handshakes. He turns to go and then looks back again. We will not see him again for some time. The next time he comes his father will almost certainly not be here. Airports are more about departures than homecomings.