Last year, my wife had to move to South Africa for six months as part of her job. She is a dentist, and was offered the chance to help out in an underprivileged community overseas, which she accepted. Of course I was very excited for her, but I wasn’t able to join her on her trip as I have my own work commitments here in the UK, so we agreed to come up with lots of ways to stay in touch while she was away.
Because my wife was stationed with a tribe, she had very limited internet and phone access, and was only able to get in touch using these methods when she returned to a base camp. Instead, we mostly communicated by post by writing letters and postcards. She sent me postcards with pictures of safari animals, the beautiful African plains and Table Mountain, whereas I was only able to send back pictures of the Great British seaside and Big Ben!
While she was out there, I realised our five year wedding anniversary was fast approaching. Obviously we couldn’t celebrate properly until she returned, so I decided to send her a gift in the meantime. I know that she’s a photo fanatic, so I compiled some of the best snaps from the first five years of our marriage and had them transformed into a photo book. I didn’t want to opt for anything too big or heavy as this obviously increases the postage cost, so this seemed perfect.
I was quite concerned about sending a parcel to South Africa as I’d never really sent anything abroad before, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I found a courier company and decided that this was the best option to get the gift to my wife safely, and they reassured me that it would arrive before our anniversary in a couple of weeks so it would be ready for her to open on the day.
Initially I was going to wrap the photo book in brown parcel paper, but was advised that I should use a sturdy cardboard box instead. If the parcel paper had ripped, the book could have become damaged, and although it wasn’t a fragile item, I didn’t want the corners to be bashed or any of the pages to get bent.
On our anniversary, I called my wife and told her to open the gift and she was delighted! I’m really glad I went the extra mile to show her how much I missed her, and it’s definitely something I’d do again in the future if the opportunity came up!
Ben Southwick writes for a number of online publications about his life as a GP in a rural setting