Abandoned by my parents…

Almost 30 years ago my parents immigrated to Australia, following my two brothers who had previously made the trip a

Almost 30 years ago my parents immigrated to Australia, following my two brothers who had previously made the trip a couple of years earlier. I was devastated. Coming from a very small family, suddenly everybody that I loved were now living on the other side of the world. Luckily I have an amazing husband and his family welcomed me with open arms and have helped to fill the void.

I understood their reasons for going and if things had been different, I would have joined them in a heartbeat. Sadly, although my husband was a Fire Officer, at just the young age of 30, he was considered too old to be accepted into the Australian Fire Service.

The first couple of years were the worst. My heart felt like it was being ripped from my chest every time I thought about my parents. Communication then didn’t make it any easier. Airmail letters being the only option we had available to us, we would write as often as possible but by the time the letter dropped on the door mat, it already contained old news, being written two or three weeks earlier.

Over the next few years things started to improve when we both invested in fax machines. This made a huge difference as now the news was no longer old and received within a few minutes of writing the letter. I remember how excited I was when I came downstairs to find a letter waiting for me in the fax tray.

The next technological invention was something called “the internet” and emails. At first I thought  this would never catch on and I wouldn’t get drawn into it – but of course like all things, without you even really noticing it, it soon became a part of our lives. We were then with a network supplier called AOL and they used the posh English actress Joanna Lumley to do their voice announcements. I can just hear her now telling me, “You Have Mail”.

The years passed by and it did become easier, especially with email which meant that we could write to each other every day if we wished and reply to each other’s questions and comments. However, it still was not the same as actually seeing the person. Enter: SKYPE – the best thing since sliced bread! As soon as it became available we both signed up and then there was no stopping us. We made it a regular weekly event at the same day and time each week to Skype each other. When your parents live on the other side of the world, you cannot imagine what joy it brings to actually be able to not only talk to them but to SEE them too! We could now show each other things, new items of clothing we had recently bought or both of my artistic parents showing me their latest painting.

And then finally present day and the wonders of iPads and FaceTime. Now we can not only see each other but we can walk around the house, show the garden or just sit comfortably in the living room, and feel like we are in the same room.

I can’t say that it has been easy but certainly modern technology has helped to ease some of the pain and for that I am eternally grateful.

Sadly my husband and I were never blessed with children and this made the pain of missing my parents and both brothers even harder to bear. I have been blessed with a happy healthy life and we are now both enjoying early retirement in North Devon, one of the most beautiful places in England with its stunning golden sandy beaches and rugged coastline.

During the past 32 years I have visited Australia 15 or 16 times and four or five of those trips have been on my own. I try to visit my parents every two years and so have become quite a seasoned traveller, knowing what to do to make the journey as stress-free as possible. When I was in full-time employment I was a PA and so am a very organised person – this certainly helps when planning a long-haul flight.

As I write this I am once again in beautiful, diverse, unique Australia and loving every precious moment with Mum and Dad – although I have to admit that after so many trips travelling “cattle class”, this time I upgraded to “Premium Economy” and it was worth every penny.

However much the ticket cost and the time it takes to get here, it is all worth it when you are finally able to give your Mum and Dad a tearful hug at the airport!

Do you live away from your children?

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  1. Madelaine Goakes  

    Beautifully written Kerry.

    • Susan  

      This is how my sister felt when we all emigrated to Australia. She has never been here citing the fact that she never liked to fly. She once made a comment that Australia had a lot to answer for ! We of course visit her when we can but unfortunately she has never embraced technology as you have. I completely understand how she felt, this was the reason I joined my family because after 18 months without them a new baby I couldn’t bare the thought of my son growing up without his Grandmother in his life.

  2. Wendy Camenzuli  

    Yes, I too have a son who is living with his wife and daughter on the other side of the world. Skype is just the next best thing to seeing each other. The distance can be heartbreaking but we make the best of it. Our next grandchild is due this year and we are looking forward to going over to meet him or her. We see each other as often as possible and they were here with us this last Christmas which was just wonderful. When distance becomes too much to bare, I remind myself to be thankful for our beautiful family no matter where they live as there are families who have lost their sons and daughters. Distance becomes so much less of a heartache in this context.

  3. Linda Grippi  

    I dont live away from my children, BUT I lived away from my parents many years ago.

    It is exactly 47yrs ago TODAY 9th April 1969 that I arrived in England as a 20yr old young woman having left home on the 8th March and set sail aboard the “Oronsay” from Melbourne Australia to Southampton on MY OWN for the obligatory 2yr working holiday on the Continent (as they called it in those days).

    My parents didn’t have even a “house phone” so snail mail was the only way to keep in touch, except on those occasions when we would make arrangements like Mother’s Day or perhaps my birthday for them to go to my grandparents home (they had the phone on) and they would call me at the public phone box in my apartment block.

    Instead of being away for what was meant to be 2yrs, I then moved to both Europe and onto USA. Things were a little better at least I had the phone on but my family still did not. By this time I was married and eventually had children and I would still write and make tape recordings of my conversations with my kids and then forward them back to OZ by snail mail. In the 13yrs I lived overseas I had only one trip back until such time as I came full circle home again.

    It is so very much easier now to live away and know you have almost instant reconnection to family with either FB, Skype, or long winded newsy emails, only wish I had that sort of technology in my day away from my family.

    When you are young as I was then, it can be quite lonely on your own whilst you are seeking to experience the wonder of the big new world, thank God for the advancements in technology today. I am sure my parents would have been worried for my welfare as much as I was lonely for their company, I worked hard for that trip and I was not about to let loneliness interfere with my plans to see what the world had to offer.

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