Like many British families, i have children living in Australia, and the tyranny of distance is more than a cliché for us. Thanks to modern technology like Skype and phone by satellite we can keep in touch easily, but we can’t hug.
I was an emigrant to Australia, so I have experienced the excitement of starting a new life in a young and exciting country. We went in 1972, and were among the last of the ‘£10 Poms’ to have an assisted passage because my former husband was a skilled worker, and in demand.
So I and my small children were at the opposite ends of the earth to my parents and family. At first we could only email. The telephone was very expensive and the undersea cable meant that our conversations would fade away as if washed away by the current. It made us feel very far away. The whole 12,000 miles. Things improved over the thirty-four years and by the time the modern phone system was instated I was ringing frequently and chatting for thirty minutes as if we were in the same room.
Then the call came I was expecting. Could I come home and help my Mum and Dad as I had promised? Mum’s memory was going and Dad’s kidneys were failing. Thanks to the support of dear friends I was packed and off in time for Mum’s 87th birthday.
Back in the spare bedroom in England I realised how far away my children and grandchildren were. But I was only there for three months; then six months;then five years later I had fulfilled my promise and attended the last funeral.
It has taken nearly three years to recover from the intense emotions of watching two parents struggling in their last days, the inadequacy of being unable to hold back the waters and save them and the outpouring of love I felt for these parents I had only visited three times in thirty-four years, though they had visited me twice too.
I have missed seven years of my grandchildren growing up. Since my parents passed on I have been to Australia twice, and the inner joy of being with my children and their children can’t be replicated. So I am going home.
The prospect is daunting, but I worry what will happen if I die here alone. I have acquired so much ‘stuff’; ornaments, paperwork, pictures, kitchen equipment. Minimalist I am not! Not much I can’t walk away from though.
Meanwhile I must find a home, because after six months in England I knew I must give up my home in Australia. I want only a small space. Each of my homes has become smaller and smaller as I need less space and more cosiness. I shall miss my central heating in the Aussie winter!
Things are on the move. I may have one very good option for a home. So this gypsy is about to traverse the planet one more time.