Today, Sunday, was my youngest grandson’s Christening – yeah that’s him (above) in his christening robe giving me a sermon on having missed it. And, how much I would have loved to be there with him, his mum, his dad (my eldest son) and his two older brothers (my only other grandchildren) but they all live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I can’t get over there at the moment.
Really I am lucky as both the other boys were baptised here in the UK in our local church where my son and his lovely wife were married. It was fortunate that both their Christenings could be arranged to coincide with long visits here. This new event started me thinking about long distance relationships and how lucky most of us really are now.
When my parents moved some fifty-five miles from the East End of London out to a village near Maidenhead it was a HUGE move. At that time, 1954, they didn’t own a car and if they had, the journey would have taken far longer than the now estimated one hour fourteen minutes as the M4 had not been built even as far as Maidenhead. In fact, I can recall travelling up to see relations in London in the mini that we had by the time I was about nine and the M4 was open … it seemed an interminable journey even then!
My grandparents were known to me from the summer holiday when they would visit, and Christmas when we would go ‘up’ to visit relations in London (everyone else in our family). Hence I remember odd things about each of them, the gran who taught me how to knit
every time she visited more than once, leaving me a pair of knitting needles with a block and a half of a scarf started under her careful eye – that I never finished. (I never did get on with knitting – which is strange as I’m into every other craft) The other gran who always seemed to wear a ‘traditional’ wrap-around pinny almost all day – which I found odd. One grandad always whistling a tune, the other always full of all sorts of information. In between visits they might talk on the phone with Mum and Dad … but I don’t ever remember talking to them on the phone.
My Aunt and her family moved to Australia in the early sixties. It might as well have been to the moon, back then. A phone call perhaps once a year – letters on birthdays with a photo slipped in with the card. The thought that they could fly back and visit was beyond imagining at that time.
When I went away to college – even though it was not very far away – the only contact my parents had with me during term time was the Sunday evening phone call, usually brief as there was frequently a queue at the hall of residence telephone box and it wasn’t done to keep others waiting forever!
Today, though my eldest son is in Malaysia, I see photographs of him and his family almost every week when they post them on facebook, and we have a skype video chat at the weekend, with the first and main portion being the grandchildren talking to granny! (and grandad when he’s around) They show me drawings, read to me, tell me how they are getting on at school, tease me, even try to tickle me … and I do similar mad stuff back. I have met and played with the boys, apart from the baby, and when we do meet every eighteen months or so, there isn’t that halting shyness as they’ve seen me every week. I am lucky, but I still miss the cuddles!
And then there’s my youngest son, also on the other side of the world, even where he is, on an island just off of Thailand, I am able to keep up-to-date with him via skype and facebook. We are so lucky!
And it is easy to think it is the same for everyone, but as I have been finding out from my niece on her blog (armywaglife.wordpress.com) one group of people who do not enjoy such an easy long distance relationship via the internet are those overseas in our armed forces. Hard to believe in this day and age – but true – even in Germany. It’s a very new blog – but well worth the visit.
So, do you keep up a long distance relationship with family or friends?
Is it easier for you now than it used to be ?
Do you remember the days when you had to queue for a public phone to call someone? – and then they had to be at home!
You know I love to hear from you – please share your thoughts