As some of you may know, one of our sons and his family have been living in Australia for the past 7 years, returning to the UK in March this year. When they emigrated in 2004 they had a boy of 3 and a baby girl of 10 months. It was very hard to say goodbye to them and I can still remember the dull ache I felt inside. However, I was lucky enough to be able to visit them several times during the 7 year period they were there and thus retained the bond I had with my grandson and got to know my grand-daughter as well. When they had their third child, another boy, in September 2008, I travelled with my mother to meet the newest member of our family. The last time husband and I visited Australia was in December 2009 and so at our reunion in the UK in March, two and a half year old Matthew half-remembered us.
They are now getting to know their cousins and get on together well. We have 2 grand-daughters living just down the road from us so see them from time to time, although they are teenagers now and naturally have their various activities which take up quite a lot of their spare time, but they do come to stay occasionally as and when the need arises.
Last year our youngest grand-daughter came to stay with us for a few days during the summer holidays and was keen to repeat it this year. So we asked if our two eldest grandchildren from Australia would like to come as well. It was agreed and the dates confirmed. About 3 weeks ago we picked them up from home in Worcester on a Friday morning and were back at home in Somerset by lunchtime. We returned them back to their parents at 5 pm on the following Monday.
So for 3 days and 3 nights we were in sole charge of grandson who will be 11 in September and 2 grand-daughters ages 7 and 8. We are 30 years out of practice and we were exhausted but we loved it. They were as good as gold and I think we all had fun. The weather could have been kinder but we had a list of possible things to do with wet weather contingencies. It worked a treat and when we delivered them home husband told them, in front of their parents, that their behaviour had been exemplary and that they could come visit again. They said they had had a good time too and I think they meant it.
We drove home and when we walked back indoors at about 7pm it felt so quiet and I felt again that old, familiar ache. A friend happened to ring to find out how we had got on - "I've been thinking of you" she said. I told her and explained the empty feeling. "I know exactly what you mean" she said. "Sit down and have a glass of wine and you will feel better by 9 o'clock" and do you know, she was right - well almost!
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