To my mum and dad
It’s nearly 6 o’clock in the morning, I’m sitting on my terrace, listening to the sounds of the birds as they call out their morning song to each other. But today I’m a lot sadder listening to them and looking around me at our beautiful view. Because just half an hour ago Hubs and I got up early to wave you both off to the airport, Mum and Dad. And this makes me very sad.
So now I am doing the only thing that makes any sense to me, and is the only way for me to deal with your departure, I’m writing about it as I find it therapeutic. Hubs has gone off on his morning run, the girls are still fast asleep, so it’s just me the birds and my keyboard, thinking about the last few months we’ve spent together.
I remember so clearly telling you that we were seriously thinking of moving to Mauritius. I knew you were happy for us, but after having us back in the UK for 5 years – just an hour down the road – after 12 years of my being in France, I knew it would be hard for you. What I hadn’t really taken onboard was how hard it would be for me too.
You were there when I went into labour with C. At the other end of the phone, ready to zoom into London to look after L, to drive Hubs and me to the hospital, and Mum, you were there whilst I actually gave birth.
Whilst I feel luckier beyond words at having you in my and our lives, and having had the incredible times we’ve had together these last 5 years, being so close to each other in the UK, I’m still so sad now that we are about to be parted for the longest time of our lives so far.
When we decided to move in with you for a few months before moving out here to Mauritius, most people told us we were crazy. All my friends thought this was the worst possible thing, and I know lots of your friends wondered how you could go through with it too.
But we work. You two, us four, we work well together.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sure I’ll miss spending most evenings watching Only Connect with you, and helping you with the music bits as that was the only thing that made any vague sense to me, “Dad, it’s ‘China in your hand’ by T’Pau”. But I actually, honestly can say that all four of us really enjoyed our time with you.
I think there’s something quite magical in this day and age, and in our society, having these 3 generations – grandparent, parent, child – spend solid chunks of time together. We learnt about each other, coming at things from different angles, and the thing I will cherish the most is we made memories from the little day-to-day things.
Just recently two friends of mine have lost their fathers, and another has lost her husband, so I’m very aware of how precious life is and how little time there is to stop and smell the roses. But I feel that in the last nearly 6 months that we have been living together, we have slowed things down, and we have just enjoyed being together, living and making memories. Memories that Hubs, our girls and I will treasure now that you’ve gone back to England, and far into the future when you’re no longer with us. (Oh dear, yet more tears.)
Mum and Dad, you have been and you still are the most incredible parents and grandparents. You also showed me what a good, happy marriage and relationship is, meaning I knew I’d met the right man just 1 week after I’d met him. Even though I do joke that I married my dad, so similar are you two at times!
You are always there for us (Hubs, the girls and me, but also my brothers and sisters and me), but equally you don’t live your lives around us, meaning you’re not clinging to us, desperate to spend time with us because you have nothing in your lives.
You don’t try and mould us to be who you are or who you want us to be: you accept all five of us – your children – for who we are, no matter what our jobs, religious beliefs, political beliefs, marital status, where we live or whether we are parents.
Why am I who I am and where I am in life?
Because you taught me I could do what I wanted, be who and what I wanted, live where I wanted. I never felt the boundaries imposed on me by society that others might feel, because you always taught me to ask myself “Why can’t I? Why not?” And I really hope to pass that self-confidence onto our girls.
I have loved living with you – both in your house (my childhood home) and in our new home here in Mauritius – I have loved having a snapshot of your everyday lives (you two do A LOT for a retired couple! As L says “you’re always out”!) and I have loved discovering our new home here with you by our sides.
You are kind and generous, open and welcoming, but above all you’re both very modest and, reading this, will be saying to yourselves “oh, it’s nothing”, and you’ll get all embarrassed about it. So I’m sorry for that, but I want to share just how incredible you are, because not everyone has parents like that. And also I want to celebrate that while you are still here – and compos mentis enough – to be able to read it and take it in.
I think of so many of my friends, who have either lost parents (at any age) or who don’t have this incredible relationship with their parents that I have with you, and I realise that what we have is one in a million, if not more. (And Dad, I don’t want to know if this makes sense / is a mathematical possibility or not!)
I just hope that I manage to come halfway to being this kind of parent, and possibly sometime in the future this kind of parent-in-law and grandparent for our girls.
Thank you for everything. For the last 40 years – I know I’m not 40 for a few more months but I think you took pretty good care of me in the 9 months before my birth! For the last 9 years (minus 2 weeks) of me being a parent and of you being a grandparent to our kids. For the last 5 years after we moved back to the UK from France. For the last nearly 6 months when you were a pleasure to live with, both as a guest and as a host. Thank you for all your help, advice, insights, chats, and of course babysitting 😉
Thank you for being you and for being there for me and mine. I will always remember it and will always be grateful for it.
All my love,
Your cheeky middle child xxxxxx
P.S. Sorry for putting a 12 hour flight between you and your grandchildren, but you’re welcome back to our paradise whenever you want.