The Long Goodbye – Part 3

So, what have you been up to? So, what have you been up to? So, what have you been up to?

Living abroad never stopped me having good and regular contact with my mum. We may not have had FaceTime or Skype video calls, but we did have the good old landline telephone. In fact I would say that we are missing out a bit today as much as it’s nice to be able to video conference Granny and Grumps “on demand” to show off little Johnny’s latest football trophy etc, but “Oh my, how you’ve grown” doesn’t quite have the same effect when its only 22 hours since you last had to sit through a re-enactment of a dance recital or “Smile and show Nanny how grateful you are for the birthday present she sent you!”. “No, she sent the wrong doll” (storms out from view of webcam etc etc).  Yes, of course it’s nice to see people you don’t have daily contact with pop up on a screen every now and then but as the TV character Nan would probably say: “Well, is some peace and quiet for the old folk too much to ask for. Grand-kids popping up on my whatsitmecalledipadtabletmathingy!?!?  What a f…… liberty!!”   Or maybe that’s just what I think. No wonder my grand-parental name is “Grumpy”.  NO such name for my mum though, nor was she anything like “Nan”.  Not that she was a typical parent either. Not one for fussing and more than once did I call her at the end of my birthday to ask how did she feel this time 33 years ago etc etc. “What?” “It’s your birthday?”, “Oops, sorry!”  And we’d laugh. Again. Same procedure as last year. Both as a mother and a granny she was extremely generous. But just not fussing and certainly not one for celebrating “special” days. She was Mrs Consistent alright. However, it was on a solo trip to visit her some nine or so years ago that things started to change. “Have you brought any photos of the children?” “Yes, I gave them to you 20 minutes ago, they’re in your handbag” “Oh yes, so you did! Please can you get my handbag out of the cupboard so I can have another look at them?” “Your handbag is on the chair next to you” “Oh, yes, I’m so dumb. So, what have you been up to? Have you brought any photos of the children?” “Astrid, please (I stopped calling her “mum” when I was 12) we’ve just had this conversation. What’s the matter?” “Nothing, I don’t know what you mean. Stop being silly, you mustn’t mess your mother around like this!” (laughs) “Anyway, so what have you been up to? Have you brought any photos…..”

This was the beginning of a long, slow, downward spiral….


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