Girl of my girl

I had 32 days.  32 days in Perth, Western Australia; days of living Australian while fruitlessly searching for some good, sharp blackberry jam to go with my homemade scones (yep, I see what I did there.)  I did manage to source Kerrygold butter, which my daughter told me was extortionately priced but I didn’t care.  I needed to feel like Perth was a bit of home.

newbornI had 30 days with my precious brand new granddaughter.  30 days in which to gaze into her eyes, always hoping that she would remember me when I am no longer with her.  30 days in which I enjoyed the pure bliss of morning cuddles as I let her mum have a bit of lie in to catch up on lost night-time sleep.  30 precious days in during which I snuggled with her, listening to classical music or sometimes Fleetwood Mac or Carole King; music always seemed to calm her.  And I had 30 days in which to try to see if I could coax a smile, a deliberate smile, from her lips to take home with me to Ireland.

When I arrived there, last August, having travelled for 24 hours, I was unsure if my daughter would be greeting me with her bump or a baby.  I was delighted to see her waddle majestically towards me at arrivals, baby still tucked tightly within, a sight which until then I had only seen on my computer screen.  Just over 48 hours later, my granddaughter, Emilee Rose, arrived somewhat reluctantly into the Australian late winter evening, over 9,000 miles from where the rest of her family live.

And so began the 30 days of time out of life.  30 days which flew by in a haze of tiny nappies, bouquets of flowers, and some of the cutest babygros you could imagine; too many of which have cats on them – we many need to watch that!

I was there for her birth, well more or less.  I kind of hid around a corner at the very end, unable to watch my girl struggle through the last birth pangs.  But I was there for that moment when Emilee was placed on her mother’s chest and we all held our breath, waiting for her to let us know she was taking her first.  And she did, with a gutsy roar, she announced that all was well and she was here.  And through a haze of tears I tried to focus on my first sight of her and simultaneously hug my firstborn of whom I was totally in awe.

Before I left Australia, we registered her birth and began the process of applying for her Irish passport.  This seemed very important.  A tangible anchor to her homeland.  Or maybe it’s just me, fooling myself into thinking it might tie her to us, her family so far away.  She may grow up speaking with an Aussie accent and she will be an Australian citizen but she is also the girl of my girl; the next generation.

snuggles
Morning Snuggles

During the long flights to get there, I wondered how much help I would actually be with a tiny new-born.  I mean, I knew I could cook and wash and generally help about the house, but it’s been 17 years since my last child was born and tiny babies with their floppy heads can be terrifying.  But magically I found myself reverting to the mother I once was, talking the nonsense I used to talk to my babies, all those years ago.  I found myself saying the same things, things I had forgotten.  No vest went over her tiny delicate head without my saying, in that stupid high pitched baby voice “oh where’s Emi gone?”, followed by “oh there she is.”  Just like I did 17, 19 and 30 years ago when only the names were different.

I know I am lucky, very lucky to have been there.  To have shared this precious time in Emilee’s life.  There must be thousands of mothers like me in Ireland who have had grandchildren born abroad following the mass exodus of our young people in the aftermath of the economic meltdown.  But unlike me, many of them are unable to travel half way around the world to visit their new family members.

Like the ripples in a pond these tiny new citizens of Ireland are the latest wave of our diaspora.  A new generation not only for our families but for Ireland; part of a generation displaced by circumstances but lucky to be growing up countries with superb education and health services.  And, in the case of Perth, a wonderful outdoor lifestyle.

oct
Emilee October 22nd 2017

I hate the distance that separates us but this weekend we wave off daughter number two, who is making her first solo trip abroad.  All the way to springtime in Perth where she will have a week to catch her breath and some rays of sunshine before heading back northwards, bringing her big sister and her new niece with her.  And so in two weeks’ time I will be at standing, once again at the barrier at Dublin Airport, fizzing with excitement, surrounded by the rest of the family and clutching a tiny padded suit to welcome our Emilee home. Home to this damp, cold, funny island in the north Atlantic; this place that, some day, I hope, she may make her own.

 

 

‘UNTIL THE NEXT TIME

I have been getting a huge reaction to my piece ‘Until The Next Time’ which was broadcast on Sunday Miscellany on RTE Radio 1 last Sunday 21st April.

You can listen to the podcast of the programme by clicking the link here.  My piece is about 31 minutes in.

Here is the script of the piece…..

“Well, that’s about it I suppose…. no more news.”
I hate these words as they usually signal that our conversation on Skype is coming to its natural conclusion.  Except that there is nothing natural about Skype.  It’s contrived and forced and virtual.  It’s the best thing we have when we are 9,000 miles apart but it’s not real. 
We finally hang up… after the lengthy ‘bye so, ok bye, ok love you, ok bye, bye, bye’ thing we do, as my cursor hovers over the red ‘hang up call’ button on screen.  Then there’s that horrible noise that sounds like something being sucked down a drain and she’s gone.
The picture of her, dressed in her pink PJs lying on her bed stays with me as I imagine her jumping up to head off to brush her teeth.  A few moments later and she will return to climb into bed under the lightest of cotton sheets, her beloved black cat settling down beside her.  I sit staring at my laptop and curse that yet again I have nothing interesting in for lunch.
Then I curse the bloody weather and freezing temperatures, I curse Enda Kenny and his entire cabinet, I curse Fianna Fail before them and finally curse the gaping huge distance that separates me from my first born. 
I allow myself a few minutes to wallow in the frustration of not being able to give her a hug….. or to receive one of hers.  I desperately want to be able to smell her hair and wonder at glow of her beautiful skin.  I want feel the air around her shimmer as she laughs.  I want to  savour the sound as it falls all around me.   
Then I get cross with myself for feeling sorry for myself when I know so many in this country are suffering fates much worse than mine.
I bang cups and plates around in the kitchen and the dog looks at me with his doleful eyes, sensing that there is violence and anger bubbling gently somewhere just beyond his perception. 
I make a cup of tea and sit at my kitchen table.  The dog settles at my feet.  And for the hundredth time I realise that right now what I want more than anything else is to have her sit opposite me and to talk rubbish and gossip and giggle.  Hell, I would even take an argument with her if it meant being able to share her space, to be in her energy. 
I want to look around me and see the imprint of her life in mine.  A handbag here, a scarf there, shoes abandoned by the front door.  I miss her always, but sometimes desperately.
She is probably sleeping now in the heat of the Perth night, under the languid movement of a ceiling fan.  I think of all the nights when she was little and I would check her room before I retired to bed.  Bending down to stroke her hair and pull the duvet up higher. I didn’t know then how precious those days were.  Perhaps it’s just as well.
I don’t know when I will see her again and perhaps that also is just as well.  Because right now all that is keeping me sane is the vague hope that somehow, in the not too distant future, the possibility of making the trip to the other side of the world will suddenly reveal itself.
 I drain my tea.  “Come on dog, let’s go for a walk”.  The pain has passed.  Till the next time.

OFF AIR

I have so much to write about and no time at the moment to do so. I was without broadband for 4 days and nearly lost the plot altogether. That’s a bit worrying? Need to work that out. It was like losing my mobile… I felt bereft!
And I really am bereft about the death of Michael Jackson. To my generation, Jackson wrote the soundtrack of so much of our formative years. From collecting his poster in ‘Jackie’ (when he was a kid and with the Jackson 5) to being blown away by the video to Thriller, I didn’t realise how much affection I had for him and his amazing creativity and talent until I heard he had died. And with the stories coming out now about the state of his health…. well I am very shocked. May his music live forever!

Anyway…. this post is really to say that I will be off air again for a week, as we are making the annual ‘pilgrimage’ across the water to the UK to visit with my husbands family and friends. And with the weather being as it is at the moment I am relishing the prospect!

No doubt I will have somethings to write about on my return!

In the meantime …. put on a bit of Michael Jackson and boogie into July!
“I’ll be back”

Some pics of two of my cats to cheer the post up! Simba (above) doesn’t do the boogie… his belly gets in the way! Kitty on the other hand knows she is a pretty kitty and poses on the windscreen in the sun!