I’m one of the lucky ones. At twenty-seven years old, I have three living grandparents, out of a possible four. My husband has one from five, second marriages included, and he has lived on the other side of the world from all of them since he was five years old. I lived a long two hour drive from Nana and Grandad – we were useless at road trips as kids – and maybe fifteen minutes drive from Grandma and Grandpa, if Mt Eden Rd was backed up, which it often was (is).
Louis (the grumpy-face) and his Great Grandparents, my Grandma and Grandpa, January 2012.
Grandad (of whom I have no digital photos) died of cancer when I was five but the others have gone on relatively well with only a handful of health issues and pretty much independent ever since.
Yep, there’s an ‘until’ coming. Grandma fell and broke a bone in her back a little while ago. Her treatment was unfortunately (and unnecessarily) delayed but she is pretty much recovered from that (ie. can still walk)… only she’s struggling in other ways now. Things seemed to be getting worse fast and the doctors did not seem to be responding overly decisively. Without much information, on this far side of the world, we’ve all been inclined to speculate about all the possibilities – undoubtedly an unhelpful pasttime but perhaps inevitable.
Mum and Dad have been travelling around Europe and popping in to visit us (in France) between adventures elsewhere. They came for the grandchildren and stayed for the culture… or perhaps it was the other way around. Or perhaps the grandchildren have more to answer for. One way or t’other, they’ve been in Europe since June and with all that’s been going on back home (not just with Grandma, but that was the deciding factor) they decided to cut their trip short and head home earlier than planned.
Grandma, Luuk’s mum and Louis
having lunch together at Auckland airport before our plane departed to bring us to Paris (January 2012)
It’s been a full six months of travel for them and it’s been wonderful for all of us. Most grandparents, I suppose, have to survive with skype-chat when their errant children drag their grandchildren across the globe. Luuk’s parents haven’t made it over yet and a visit might still be a ways off. We skype with Oma and Opa so they get a bit of grandkid-time, but it’s not the same as cuddles of course. (Though Oma does send very cuddly knitted jerseys that are sort of like hugs.)
We said our goodbyes to my folks on Sunday night and they were off on Monday morning, before I got Louis to halte garderie. They took a train and a plane and then another plane and over twenty-four hours later arrived in Auckland… which is why we don’t plan on visiting home very very often. It’s a ways.
So, no more handy-dandy grandparents (Louis and Elena’s grandparents I mean) helping out around the house and babysitting whenever it worked out, reading to and playing with the kids while I cooked or wrote or popped to the shops. Actually, I think the best of it was that one of them could stay home with Elena while I took Louis to and from the halte garderie in the mornings. The timing of these particular outings never seems to work well with her schedule. Poor kid, always getting hauled out of bed and carted around in the cold.
But she seems to be sleeping till seven most mornings now and if I can stretch that till 7.30 then she can stay awake till I have to take Louis. If that works out then she’ll be exhausted when we get back and sleep for most of the time he’s at halte garderie… which means a decent chunk of time, two mornings a week, when I can write (or get housework done, sure… maybe).
It’s a nice plan. Almost pulled it off today. The problem with making plans around kids sleep habits is they only stick to a habit just long enough to lull you into a sense of security, and then BAM they change up on you. And when I say they change ‘up’ I don’t mean to imply that things improve. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t and sometimes they just make you so crazy!
Anyway, not much news on Grandma, except more of the same: she’s not doing great, but things are not desperate; tests are being done, but their results may not lead to any perfect treatment… basically, it’s a waiting game.
I’m trying to keep on with life, and occasionally think/pray for these things happening far far away. The distance can be an odd thing – sometimes I think I feel things all the more for it, and other times I am numbed by it. I have a sense of impending sadness – even if things improve dramatically, at some point I suspect I will start to really miss home, at some point something will happen and I’ll really want to go back. Summer is beginning there and winter has arrived here, whipping all the leaves from the trees (and making our street very slippery when wet). As much as I love scarves and jackets and boots, I’d rather have sunshine and barbecues and long evenings.
Best not to think about lovely summery NZ perhaps. Best to skype lots and then get on with life, remembering that even when we lived in the same country we didn’t tend to see most of our family, most of the time. There is no one place in this world where we could live and be near all the people we love. Perhaps if there was we would live there.
Anyway, back to my point: hooray for grandparents! They will, I know, miss us terribly, even if we manage to get on with life and distract ourselves from missing them.