Not knowing it would take four to five months for James Talbot to complete the Te Araroa Trail of 3200 kilometres in New Zealand, Mereani laughs it off saying: “I forgot to ask James how long it was going take, lol!”
Mereani said it took a month for their youngest son, a Tereora College student and herself to remind themselves that there was no one to get the washing sorted nor to pick up after them.
“We joke about it with family and friends. It was really hard to be honest not having him here.”
Having been together for 20 years with three children, Mereani said it has been difficult not having Talbot by her side.
She said Talbot did not let her see him during his stop in Wellington and it will end up being about five months when he has finished the trip.
“He also won’t let me see him in Auckland, he thinks I’m going to be a distraction. I will be, so it’s best I don’t see him until the end. He needs to stay focused.”
Mereani said February and March have been bad as she has been without another wage earner.
However, she said she has been busy with Learning Solutions Cook Islands, providing customised learning solutions for businesses like the My Vaka, My Workplace.
“I also do private tours for small to large groups so things have been picking up. We are down to one wage but I have managed things well without James. Can’t wait until he gets back and then I take a holiday.”
With Mother’s Day this Sunday, Mereani said Talbot has always been the family member who gets things organised for the special day and sorting out the boys to make sure they’ve had a part in doing something nice for her.
“It’s not easy being without your loved one for months and months. I understand how some wives have husbands who are working overseas while the wife looks after the household and children in another country.
“It’s not easy for anyone. Hang in there, do what you have to and know that the temporary separation is for a reason. As long as it benefits your family and things are moving ahead. In my case, James is doing this to help raise funds for the Creative Centre.”
Mereani said Talbot is always safe and knows his limits. They keep in touch through text messages with words of encouragement.
“I keep telling him that I’m so proud of him and that his doing an awesome thing for the Creative Centre. To me, it doesn’t matter what money he raises, I just want him to be safe and get to the top (of New Zealand) in one piece. I also say “take one step at a time”.
She said what her husband is doing is a self-less mission for an organisation he is passionate about.
“This walk has really made us stronger and appreciate each other more than ever. He’s going to be a different person and so will I. It will help us to realise that the time away was a really great thing for our marriage and makes us better people.”
Mereani added that as she looked forward to seeing Talbot at Cape Reinga, she will ensure he doesn’t take up another challenging initiative again.