Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meeting Great Grandparents

Noah, Papa & Aunty Becky had a wonderful weekend on the NSW South Coast where our paternal grand parents and Noah's great grandparents live. It has been so long since I last saw my grandmother and grandfather and this was going to be the first time Noah met them. Grandma and Pop's home is located high on a hill in an enviable location overlooking the Tasman Sea with truly breathtaking views. Growing up, this was our annual holiday location every Christmas. Long summer days spent with cousins playing cricket, badminton, billiards and spending what seemed like endless hours with our grand parents. My grandmother is a wonderful, wonderful cook and there is nothing she can not or would not make for her grandchildren and this is still the case. I finished work on Thursday and excitedly headed home to pack for our mini getaway. Daddy was working this weekend so Papa was going solo. It takes so, so long these days to pack for a weekend away.
I quickly remembered how full the car was on our last weekend away in Dubbo and trust me, this time was no exception. It took me an hour and a half to make sure I had everything needed and pack it into the car. Aunty Trella and Ninna were on hand to help feed Noah whilst Papa got everything ready, showered and headed out the door. Noah comfortably in his baby seat and Papa about to shut the door and.....vomit. Unclip seatbelt and take Noah back inside the house for a quick re change and wipe over, Papa a clean shirt free from baby vomit and we're back in the car and driving down our street headed 300km south to the picturesque seaside town of Dolphin Point. It's a long drive made even longer when you're travelling by yourself and the weather is thick with fog and misty rain. I relied on our car's GPS 'just to be safe' and what an event in itself this turned out to be. I comfortably drive for an hour and a half until I hit the pretty town of Bowral in the southern highlands. Bowral is famous for it's tulip festival in Spring and we often make a day trip travelling here enjoying lunch and a spot of shopping. As I left the town I was instructed by Lee (my GPS man) to take a left at an unfamiliar bridge, so I complied. It wasn't until 20 minutes or so later that I realised I had taken the scenic tourist route. I was literally in the middle of no where. The road barely wide enough for my single car was meant to be two lanes and the fog! I was so uncharacteristically panicky. I was on unfamiliar roads, with no passing traffic, homes, street lights and could not find my way back to the freeway. Turns out the scenic tourist route was bypassing the towns of Wollongong, Kiama, Berry and others travelling via Kangaroo Valley which is lovely and I would have liked it had it been the middle of the day and not raining, misty and wet. I literally did not have a passing car for over an hour. I ended up meeting the freeway again just before Nowra with only an hour until I arrived at my grandparents. I did eventually arrive at just after 11pm and the unpacking of the car began. Noah happily asleep in the back seat and Papa unpacking, unpacking, unpacking. I am instantly transported to my childhood on climbing the landing stairs and walking to the front door. The familiar smell of my childhood and that of my grandparent's home magically works wonders with my mind and I am in that happy place again. I am a child of 11 or 12 years with my sister, cousins and extended family surrounding me. The sound of laughter fills the air and my heart is warm and full of love as I let this feeling envelop me. This are the childhood memories I want Noah to have. We had a wonderful weekend and it was especially good seeing my grandfather who at 86 years old has been unwell for some time now. I don't like the thought of him not being around and it is a hard admission the thought of him not being with us much longer. Pop has become frail in his old age, losing a large amount of weight, not eating properly and finds it frustrating not being able to do the things around the home and garden he once done without issue। He also has dementia (thankfully no longer progressing due to medication), this has however affected his short term memory. He can easily recall the events from more than 30 years ago but something that happened last week, even earlier that day is much harder for him. My grandfather is also spending more and more time reminiscing about his years in the Pacific Islands during WWII and the friends he made and sadly lost. I know this plays on his mind from the stories he recalls to me and Grandma often tells me he often wakes from nightmares. I know that the absolute worst of what he experienced during the war he keeps to himself. Grandma, always her stoic self happily reminisces about 62 years of marriage and I can see that it is hard for her to see the husband she once knew change so drastically in front of her eyes. The time I spent with my grandmother growing up I am sure helped pave the way for my love of cooking. The time spent in her kitchen, combined with that of my mother are some of the happiest memories I have as a child. Nothing was ever too much or too outlandish for her to prepare. This is still the case. The next morning I quietly snuck into the pantry for a peek and yes, they were there. The cookies from my childhood that she had made in advance knowing we were visiting. Two containers full of coconut and walnut bikkies - - yum!!! I quickly had two even before breakfast had begun. Their familiar buttery texture and smell are drug like to me. Over the weekend we enjoyed, chocolate cake, sticky date pudding, caramel tarts, lemon tarts, pavlova and a treasure trove of home made delights we all enjoyed. Noah and Papa had their first real taste of Summer at the coast too. The weather at home has been so unseasonably mild and temperate that I was not prepared for the 35 degree days we had. Thankfully there is a wonderful sea breeze and the ocean to enjoy and cool off in. I have to say though that the vision I had in my head of Noah and I at the sea-shore and the reality could not have been more different. In my head we were blissfully floating in the water, chatting and splashing away, the current carrying us to where the open ocean meets the lake and then walking back to the lake only to be carried away again. The reality was far more abrupt. The water was freezing! Absolutely chilly and Noah hated it. We therefore spent our time playing in the sand (another vision in the head that needed reassessing). Noah decided that he would rather eat the sand and I mean EAT IT and from time to time rub it in his eyes than enjoy playing and sitting with his Papa. We therefore had an interesting 30 minutes or so at the beach quickly to return home for a thorough shower and afternoon nap!

It truly was a wonderful three days and I am grateful that Noah has finally met his great grandparents. I am planning another visit early in the new year, January hopefully. By this time (fingers crossed) Noah will be back to his happyily contented sleeping soundly through the night self...this is another post!

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