Thanksgiving was all that Arlene hoped that it would be..There was a period of overt sadness and tears when Arlene confided to the family that her illness was terminal. However, the family rose to the occasion and the next four days were a love fest. Michael Junior and his father behaved admirably around Arlene, and she held the false impression that many issues had been resolved. In fact nothing had changed, and after the holiday both went back to their prior relationship.
As wonderful as the family gathering had been it taxed Arlene both mentally and physically. She had become incredibly frail ,but her ironclad will was determined to make the trip to Ireland. Despite the protests of her oncologist as well as Vic De Fino ,Arlene and Michael decided that this was such an important part of her bucket list that nothing should stop them from seeing the Cliffs of Moher. Michael personally through a local travel agent created the perfect schedule. As he prepared for the trip there was a twinge of regret because he thought to himself they should have made this trip years ago when things would have been much easier for her. There is always tendency to do that when one is faced with the reality that the person they most love in the world is going to die. That being said, Michael spent hours on trying to make this the perfect trip, With his usual bent towards research he gathered every conceivable piece of information about Irish pubs, restaurants and lodging This had to be within the confines of her physical ability a fabulous trip.
Arlene refused to be escorted to Kennedy Airport in an ambulance so a stretch limo was hired. Upon arrival after going through security they were welcomed by Air Lingus personnel and escorted to the VIP lounge. Arlene quipped “I am being treated as if I am the Queen of England.”Michael smiled and said’Be careful with those British references my dear they may not go over well with the Irish.”Once on board in the first class cabin,Michael contacted the flight attendants and told them” I am a physician, and my wife has been recently ill. She will be taking sleeping pills, and will not require any food or drink during the flight. We are on our way to see the Cliffs of Moher and complete rest is essential before we arrive.”
Fortunately the flight was without turmoil, and Arlene slept until the cabin lights went on for breakfast. She was able to have some tea, biscuits and fruit. Her level of excitement was off the Richter scale and wearing a heavy Irish knit sweater and a beautiful green scarf she could have been the poster woman for the Irish tourist board. There was a wheel chair waiting for them at Shannon Airport, and after going through customs they saw a giant of a man holding a sign” Welcome DR. and Mrs. McNally. Michael Finnerty in a glorious brogue came to them and said” Welcome to the land of your heritage. I will be your driver and guide for the next four days.”