When your loved ones live really far away… 18



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My granddaughter left to go back to Melbourne this morning. Those last minutes are painful, trying to summon up a smile and speak despite the huge lump in my throat.

The house can remain as it is until tomorrow; all those little reminders that she has been here: a little pot of cream abandoned along with the crossword partly finished. One of our usual pursuits when she’s home but no time to finish this morning. Her favourite mini quiche and bread rolls baked fresh for breakfast and some packed in her luggage. Her bed linen in the washing machine.

Maggie our little dog seems to know she’s gone and not just popped down to the shops. I feel happy that she has an interesting and industrious life but feel sad but that will pass.

Time for me to write again; snail mail as she likes to keep the letters I send.

Emily arrived safely. Her Honda Accord was one of the first off the Spirit of Tasmania.

Now for me to settle back into my usual life – taking Maggie for our usual 5.45am walk. Not in the silence that’s necessary when someone’s still in bed but with all the endearments I say to her and her little yips in response. Back for my sudsy bath. Again, no need to tip toe about.

Coffee and toast to break my fast and the Mercury and Herald Sun to absorb and find subjects for the verse I like to turn them into. A ritual now. TV back up to the late 30s/early 40s instead of the 21 that’s necessary to protect other more delicate ears.

No need for the text or the hearing aids that have been necessary for the past fortnight. The aids languish in their pouch until I’m again in need of them. The house looks somewhat bare without all the accoutrements necessary for the young to look so beautiful.

No dusting today. Any visitor will be told the Domestic Goddess hasn’t quite got her energy back yet, even the house proud ones may nod approvingly at my tardiness. I’ve had a big fortnight.

It might seem that Emily is my only grandchild. No, I have five: Zane (32) has been married to Sally for six years. His sister Lucy (27) has been married to Alex for three years.

No children as yet! Then there’s Stuart (27) with his partner Alana and finally Sam (19). All of them are so special to me. The difference is no one comes to stay as they all live in Hobart. Emily’s boyfriend works in Canberra. He’s loved just as much as my family is and Alana too.

Will they be happy I’ve talked about them in the public arena? Probably not but they may not know because we don’t share computer confidences. My three children are all worthy, hardworking people but I choose not to to write about them as the 50s feature in all their ages and it might upset them. There would be lots of “Mum what are you doing?” I’m sure…

So until Emily comes to stay again the house will be very quiet early morning (one daughter comes up for breakfast each morning on her way to work) and in the evening when Maggie curls up next to me on the settee and doesn’t mind if the TV is a little bit loud.

I look  forward to hearing from Emily often and know that her next visit, if not imminent, will soon be in the planning stage and I will welcome her  home again with so much love.

Do you live far away from your family? How often do you get to see them? Do they visit regularly? Tell us in the comments below… 

Val Monaghan

I was born on the 21st January 1938. I am retired and widowed with 3 adult children and 5 lovely grandchildren I have lived in the same address for 58 years. I have had a varied working life, including ticket and showcard writing until 1973 when I changed to commercial cooking. I last cooked on the Windeward Bound, a brigantine around 6 years ago. I write a lot of verse about all sorts of subjects. I enjoy gardening, reading and having good friends visiting.

  1. My children (grandchildren) are spread through 3 states of Australia. I am grateful for phones, computers and affordable air travel. None of this was available when my mother in law moved 400 miles from her family over 65years ago. With 5 children, she couldn’t afford to return to Sydney for many years and depended on snail mail to communicate. My mother left UK as a child and returned only twice – each time on that month or more long boat ride. How lucky are we now!

  2. My two girls and grandchildren live in the UK. They come to visit and I spend the whole time trying to control myself as I know there will come a time in three weeks when they will leave me. I cry at the airport and the pain in my chest is terrible. It is worse when I visit them as I cry for 23 hours on the plane coming home it takes me two weeks to get back to normal. I see my grand children on Skype. Now my son is moving to Queensland and my remaining grandson will be lost to me

  3. Be happy to have them in melb and with Facebook you have them so close not like in my time with everyone else living in Holland and nobody even had a phone it would be a different way of life and I would not be as homesick

  4. Great story. I can relate. There is nothing more precious than grandchildren who WANT to come and stay. We are blessed

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