Widgets Magazine

Mar 12, 2011

World Traveler

Grandpa likes to think of himself as a world traveler, but his favorite thing to do is visit family. I have one brother and his family in Chiba, Japan, and my oldest brother and his wife and daughter live in Christchurch, New Zealand. They both teach at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and my niece attends one of the best schools. She’s an amazingly smart child, probably because both of her parents have PhDs. 
So 75-year-old Grandpa hopped on an airplane the first part of February and spent 18 miserable hours trying to sleep as he traveled halfway around the world for a visit. He was so excited to see the sites he had missed on his last trip. It was vacation time for my brother so he and Grandpa got to spend plenty of time together visiting the local sites and going to the beach. 

A couple of days before he was scheduled to fly home, they headed into downtown Christchurch. Grandpa wanted to buy some souvenirs for the grandkids so they ended up in Cathedral Square. Cathedral Square is in the very center of Christchurch and is bordered by a beautiful cathedral with stained glass windows. After visiting this amazing building and several other historic sites, they ended up in a little gift shop. Grandpa bought a little stuffed lamb for Baby Doll, a recorder for Curly, a baton for Scout, a hat for Sport, and socks for the three medium-aged girls. He also picked up things for the other grandkids and great-grandkids. 

Christchurch Cathedral
He was excited about his purchases as they drove back to the suburbs. He only had one more free day and they still hadn’t decided how to spend it. They got up bright and early the next morning. It was Tuesday, February 22. "What do you want to do today?" my brother asked. His wife was back at work and his daughter was at school. "More shopping? We can go back to that same little place in Cathedral Square." Grandpa agreed and they climbed in the car. About 10 minutes into the drive, my brother started getting a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. "You know," he said, "I don’t think we should go downtown today. Let’s drive out in the country instead." 

They turned the car around and headed in the opposite direction. An hour or two later, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island. It totally destroyed the little shop they were planning to visit. It made a huge mess of Cathedral Square. Had my brother and Grandpa not listened to that little voice telling them to get out of town, there is a good possibility they would be dead right now. As it turned out, they had only minor inconveniences…bottles broke in their pantry, the fish tank sloshed water all over the floor, and a statue was broken. 

Reconstruction begins on the spire.

Grandpa was awakened to some pretty good shaking during an aftershock. He also missed his flight home and had to stay long hours in the airport. It’s amazing how quickly life can change! And following one little gut check can make all the difference. At least he didn’t take my advice and make a stopover in Japan on his way home. Then he could have shared a major earthquake with both of my brothers! (By the way, Guys, this competition thing has finally gone just a little too far…) Glad you are all safe!  Love and prayers to you both…Sandy and the clan

Current photos of Chiba, Japan a major oil refinery is on fire.

 **Editor's Note: If you have family in Japan you can use Google's Crisis Services 2011 Japan page to locate or provide information on family abroad.  This page also had up to the minute alerts, blackout information and other resources.


Kacy the Cool said...

That's crazy. I'm glad they are ok though. So I guess it's good that grandpa's ok and din't stop in Japan. Then he would have had experienced 2 earthquakes and a tsunami in less than a month!

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

Wow! Interesting story. I'm glad they listened and everyone is OK And, I'm also happy Grandpa didn't stop off in Japan! Janae


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