Until we meet again…

What a fabulous introduction to our grandchildren. 

Julius – 4 months at the end of our holiday – captured our heart – always ready to smile, never fussing (unless hungry of course), always happy for a hug and kiss and a morning walk, listening to the birds singing and his Grandma’s lullaby ‘Little boy’.  What an absolute pleasure. Spitting image of his mother, with his grandmother’s complexion – perfect.  He’s won the ‘Angel of the Year’ award.

Wyatt, a 15-month-old with music in his soul and love in his heart – does not stop moving or ‘talking’.  Always strumming a ‘guitar’, with an intimate relationship with ‘Exa’ (Alexa) who seems to respond appropriately to his random requests to play ‘Too’ (Bob Marley) – dances to all music and always has a story to tell.  The way to his heart is definitely through his stomach – a pleasure to feed – who shows his appreciation for everything with the random kiss.  No fear of water and keeps you on your toes at the beach.  A character you can only love to the moon and back.

Solomon, our eldest – adores his brother, Baby Ju-Ju, smothering him constantly with ‘gentle’ hugs and sloppy kisses, loves his cousin Wyatt with a wicked streak that overrides this love at times.  After six weeks, we still need a translator for his Aussie accent, but we managed.  You’re drawn in from the get-go, as he slips his little hand in yours and beckons you to ‘come Grandma’.  Loves an adventure and is extremely aware of his surroundings.  Gives great morning hugs and is enraptured by ‘Moana’.

He is sensitive and caring.  When his cousin left us for the last time, he noticed tears in my eyes and asked why I was sad.  ‘I miss Wyatt’ I said.  ‘Me too Grandma’ and he continued to keep me distracted by catching fish with our pretend rods and telling me stories of whatever came to his mind.  As I watched him play minutes before my final departure, he again noticed tears in my eyes and asked, ‘Why you sad Grandma’.  ‘I am going to miss you’ I said.  ‘I love you so much’.  ‘I love you too’, he whispered.

The tears have not stopped flowing.  Until we meet again my boys.

Time is drawing near…

It’s 4 in the afternoon.  Still a few hours until nightfall.  The birds are singing, chirping, squawking, such a variety nesting in the area.  The rest of the world is quiet in the small town of Tyalgum, Australia.  The gentle breeze is soothing and relaxing and my cup of tea makes it all a very serene moment, giving me time to reflect.

My two eldest sons have now been living in Australia for the better part of the past 16 years – my eldest moved here as a teenager to further his university studies and decided to make this country his home.  My second son moved here with his wife (then girlfriend) about 6 years ago.  Both now have 3 sons between them, and I am a very proud grandmother.

My husband and I have been here now for just about 4 weeks, and the time is flying by ever so quickly.  Using our time and talents to help our sons with their growing families.  Enjoying the precious time spent with our grandchildren – meeting them practically for the first time, after leaving our eldest two years ago at the tender age of 3 months.  We were greeted by two little confident, loving, funny, chatty, determined toddlers and one sweet 3 month-old angel – our hearts melted instantly and we immediately felt the dread of leaving them in the short six weeks ahead.

How does that work.  How is it that you can fall so deeply in love with little humans with just a smile, a snuggle, a giggle.  I will never understand.

We’ve been busy travelling back and forth between their homes – an hour’s drive each way – and have come to love this part of the country.  Tyalgum boasts of just over 500 residents and is nestled in the foothills of Mount Warning, the world’s largest extinct shield volcano, surrounded by farmlands, mountains, creeks and rivers which make this area such a joy to explore.  The centre of the town itself can be leisurely visited in just a short 10 minutes and has all the necessities including a cricket oval, a playground for kids, ice cream parlour, general store and of course, a bottle shop. Sunday afternoon is their busy day when the neighbours gather at the local pub for a quick meal and a beer or two, while being entertained by a live band made up of members of the community.  Charming indeed.

Mullumbimby, Australia’s biggest little town, is a bit larger with just over 3,000 residents and seems like a metropolis in comparison.  When you first arrive, it feels like a one-horse-town with not much action but that is part of the charm of Mullumbimby. It is known for its cafes serving world class coffee, quite often locally grown, and its choice of restaurants, local bakery and butcher, all your needs being met within a stone’s throw away.  The weekly Saturday market offers an opportunity for the neighbours to meet each other, share a meal, and of course be serenaded by the local artists.  A simple life, no fuss, no bother.  Locally the town is known as Mullum. Back in the day, this town grew weed so potent it was known as Mullum Madness – go figure. Fashion is alternative and shoes are always optional.

Both towns exude a simplicity of life and ease of living.  A haven for young children where the outdoors beckon, the rivers pique your curiosity for exploring, the trails easy to venture.

We’ve been joyfully busy.  Grateful for every moment shared. But the reality is that we will leave in a short two weeks, having put our life on pause for our grandchildren.  Creating memories that we hope will build a base for many more to come.

Grandparenthood

My father had an insane love for his grandchildren.  They were all perfect, and in his opinion they all looked just like him.  A joke the grandchildren would share to this day.  They were all his favourite, and he told each one just that.  His patience, his gentleness, his special love was felt by each one of them.  And sometimes I wondered just who this man was. As a young child, I knew him as a disciplinarian.  You knew you were the apple of his eye, but yet still you never took the chance to be on his wrong side, and you did all you could to make sure you always did what he wanted you to do.  As an adult, you realised that everything he did was for your benefit.

So, when grandchildren came into the picture, and this guy’s face softened visibly at each birth, visit, hug, you knew that this thing called grandparenthood could change your life forever.  And it certainly has.

Living away from your children is one thing.  Living away from your grandchildren is a totally different ball game. Facetiming as often as you could, smiling from ear to ear with each babble.  And when you finally meet, losing yourself with the slip of a small hand in yours, your heart melting at the sound of your name coming from their lips, you know your life has changed forever.  It feels as if your heart will burst with love, but it only grows and expands to adapt to all the indescribable emotions that come with being a grandparent.

No one can prepare you for this.  And jokingly, I tease my children that I love my grandchildren more than I do my very own.  But it is different.  You’re at a stage of your life when you can easily shake off your adulting duties and once again experience the wonder of the world through their eyes.  Their innocence and awe of life softens you.  And you now begin to truly enjoy the simple things in life.  The beauty of a ‘baby flower’ at the side of the road.  The awesomeness of a tractor cutting grass.  The imagination of fishing with a stick and catching leaves.  The excitement of skating down the driveway laughing a belly-laugh like it’s the best thing in the world.  The deep chuckle at the sound of a stone ‘kplunking’ into the water.  The colours of a rainbow.

It’s a joy bestowed upon many.  And I’m ever so blessed to be one of them.

Are we doing a good job as parents?

It’s been quite a journey – this thing called parenthood.  Your main purpose is to raise your children to be the adults you wanted them to be – honest, hardworking, loving, gentle, strong, worthy…  You didn’t always get it perfectly right.  There were many mistakes along the way, but at no time did you give up.  At no time did you stop loving them unconditionally, for this is the foundation on which you build their dreams, their hopes, their future.  Plain and simple LOVE.

I remember quite some time ago, discussing with my dad the trials and tribulations of raising my kids.  There were so many frustrations and questions.  None of which he answered, by the way.  He never offered any sage advice. He would just sit and listen.  Nodding the knowing nod.  Shaking his head appropriately and on queue.  As if to say – ‘Well it’s your turn now.  It’s not easy, but you will get there’.

And then one day he said, quietly and unexpectedly – “You’ll know if you’ve done a good job when your kids have their own kids.  I think I did a good job.”  And he continued staring ahead at the view as we always did on his weekly visits with me.  It was enough affirmation for me, that I wasn’t doing such a bad job.

And so, as I too now watch my boys raise their own.  Watch them be the ever-present, ever-loving father, instilling in their sons, the important virtues of honesty, gentleness, love – I too feel proud.  I too believe, finally, that I really didn’t do such a bad job after all.

Your heart is at peace …

It’s still dark at 5 am.  Venus is shining bright straight ahead of you in the dark sky.  The world is silent. And your heart is at peace.

The creatures begin to stir slowly.  At first you hear the Whippet birds calling out to each other.  Then as the sky brightens you see the Magpies scouring the lawn for their first meal of the day.  Their young following them, learning, by example, how to take care of themselves.

First you hear them with their distinctive laughing call, then you see them as the Kookaburras appear in the veggie patch, picking at the moist earth searching for unsuspecting worms as they too start their day hunting for food.

The clouds move slowly to allow for the rising sun and everything is awash with its golden light. And you know that it’s going to be a great day.

You wait patiently for the pitter patter of the little feet you kissed good night looking forward to the early morning smile and hug.  The simple things in life mean the most.

It’s been two years in the making.  The waiting game is over.  You’ve cried enough tears.  Many prayers have been answered. And your reunion with your grandchildren has finally taken place.

Your heart is most certainly at peace.

It is going to be a great year…

Because I said so…

I am tired of the doom and gloom that has pervaded our lives over the past two years. Tired of that one topic that seems to find its way into every single conversation. Tired of keeping my distance from my family and friends. Tired of the sadness. We seem to have lost what little control we thought we had of what tomorrow could possibly bring.

Like everyone else, my 2021 plans were turned upside down. But with my positive thinking-cap on, I have convinced myself that they may not have been the right plans for me at that time anyway. Instead 2021 allowed me the opportunity to spend time delving into some of the things I’ve always wanted to do and never had the time to do (or the will, whichever is the real reason). In my first year of retirement, I was allowed to reconnect with family and friends. To truly R E L A X. To literally sit and and watch the grass grow, as they say – or the waves roll onto the shore. To take the time to rebuild my garden, my sanctuary, my pride and joy. To enjoy my hummingbirds who from time to time awake me from my reverie to remind me to refill their feeders.

I’ve reconnected with my creative side and reacquainted myself with my sewing machine. We have once again become good friends and we are happy together. I have become a student of the University of YouTube where there are no limits to what you can learn to do. And most of all I have learned that the roller coaster that is life can change its speed, and that’s OK.

With your positive thinking-cap on, the world is a much better place. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel as small as that light may be, the good things outshine the bad, and you are able to move forward one step at a time, slowly but surely.

2021 was great and 2022 will be even greater, as I will soon be on my way to meet my three grandsons, two of whom I am yet to meet personally. FaceTime has become an integral part of my relationship with them and as grateful as I am for being able to watch them grow from afar, it is time for that ever important transfer of love through the hugs and kisses I’ve been storing up over the past two years. We will all be overwhelmed when we finally meet, but it will be good.

It is going to be a great year, because I said so…..

Nothing fancy…

Just to share the beauty of nature in its stages of new growth, peak of life and the aging process. How it coexists naturally to bring beauty and depth to our surroundings. Much the same way that families welcome their young, nurture their youth and cherish their elders – all coming together naturally and beautifully to ensure continuity of life.

Maps (then and now)…

About 5 years ago I wrote a whimsical blog on Maps. At that time maps were synonymous with adventure, excitement and wonder for me.

They represented places I’d lived, places I had explored when I had not a care in the world, places I had visited with my boys opening their eyes to everything exciting and new – different cultures and languages – giving them a taste of what this wonderful world has to offer. So many memories of good times, with family and friends. So much to look forward to in the years to come. A bucket list that was getting longer and longer.

Fast forward to today and this Map has turned into a scary sight. Many borders closed to non-nationals. People isolated in their own countries fearful of venturing outside of their bubble. Instead of awe and excitement, it represents fear and trepidation. It is filled with numbers and statistics and I wait ever so patiently to be reunited with my family. To meet my grandchildren for the first time. To let them know that Grandma is more than just a funny face on the other side of the IPad. That you can hug her and kiss her in person. That all your screen kisses will one day be accompanied by the biggest warmest hug ever. That there’s more to your Grandma than clapping hands or reading books. That together we can explore this world and build memories that will last a lifetime.

That light at the end of the tunnel is ever so faint. Yet I keep it in my sight, knowing that one day it will be the brightest light in my universe.

Dear Dad,

Circa 1950

For the past year and a half, you’ve been constantly on my mind. Covid-19 has sent the world in a tailspin, and as much as I miss you and mummy terribly, I’m forever grateful that you’ve been spared this ‘inconvenience’, and selfishly, that we have not had the added worry of keeping you guys safe. It would have been a lonely existence for you both, one which, after such a long and happy life, seeing your children and grandchildren almost daily, would have possibly left you bereft of what was most important to you – family.

We’ve managed well, though – and keep in touch with each other often. Meeting up when we can for quick get togethers at each other’s homes, dropping by to share excess fruit (Julie mangoes, Mummy’s favourite), Zabocas (the boys are still competing as to whose is the best), homemade bread (your eldest has become quite the baker), but most importantly, keeping our family bond strong.

You’ve left us with a legacy so ingrained that in this time of forced isolation, our family connections have pulled us through and we thank you for this.

Circa 1972

And oh the family keeps on growing – with some scattered across the globe, we still remain in touch thanks to the technology which baffled you so much towards the end. Your great grandkids keep us busy and entertained. Some we have not yet met due to Covid, and some on the way. And they all look ‘just like you’ – if not physically, certainly in their hearts which are full of love of life and family.

You would be proud, as are we.

Forever and always……

Always give thanks…

We all take this time of year to reflect. Reflect on what we have done, could have done, should have done. What we will do differently in the New Year to achieve different results – to become the person we always wanted to be and make promises to be better in every way in the New Year. This Year will be the best year of our lives.

I’ve stopped doing that – quite some time ago. I’ve learned that making New Year’s resolutions are filled with drunken hopes of ideals that, for the most part, never happen. Filled with wishes that never come true. Filled with high expectations that I can never live up to.

Now, I simply thank God. Thank Him for my blessings. And I have very many. I thank Him for my husband of thirty-something years who still manages to surprise and delight me in the simplest of ways, my children who continue to burst my heart with pride, my daughters-in-law who share my passion for life, and now my grandson, who has opened my heart to a different kind of love and adoration that I never knew existed.

I thank Him for my siblings who always have my back, no matter what. I thank him for my friends who always show up, without expectations. I thank Him for my health, my passion to carry on, my love of life.

And with this gratitude I embrace the New Year knowing that I can and will survive, endure, enjoy whatever life has to offer.

May your New Year be filled with an abundance of blessings.