See You Next Time

There’s a pool in our compound which is eerily quiet in the mornings. The afternoons are full of pool toys and young parents, but the mornings this week have belonged to a visiting Grandma and myself. Each morning while I wrestle with my heavy pony tail trying to squish it into my very attractive green swimming cap, we both fill the silence with conversations about home made sausage rolls, swimming styles, and life in Qatar. She is, like most grandmothers, in love with her grandchildren and proud of her children. While she does ten easy laps of breaststroke I cough and splutter my way through a self imposed swim program.

This morning after she’d done her ten laps, dried herself off, and collected her things, the visiting Grandma walked to my end of the pool. She’d came to say goodbye.

“Well, I’ll see you next year then.”

“Oh you leave tonight?” I immediately tried to look for the light at the end of goodbye. “But they’ll be back in the UK soon for holidays, so only maybe 8 weeks until you see them again?”

“Yes, I’ll be on the plane at midnight and then I’ll wake up tomorrow in my own bed. Funny how that happens isn’t it? How you wake up and you’re in own room?” she giggled in mock surprise  “Oh, I’m back here now!”

I knew what she meant. It’s ridiculous but after 13 years of air travel I am still amazed by the smallness of our world. How you can start in a dry 50 degree heat in the dessert and arrive mid monsoon in the tropics. You can begin in a sea of abayas and shisha pipes and land in a world full of shorts and sleeveless shirts with laws that ban smoking in restaurants. But for Grandma that wasn’t it today. It wasn’t geographical or cultural, it was emotional, personal. It was that she would begin at one airport with a daughter, a grandson and a granddaughter, and wake up the following day in a different country in a house by herself.

“I won’t have anyone to bring me a cup of tea” she said with a wavering voice. I was glad I was wearing swimming goggles.

We’re six weeks away from Granny Max. We are officially on countdown, planning what we’ll do at Granny’s house when we get there. Granny will have the doll house ready, the toys out, and the flannelette sheets on the bed. As the days get closer we’ll talk about Granny’s house in the winter with warm milo for breakfast and ham and cheese toasties. About kicking the footy, throwing the baseball and setting up a cubby in Granny’s backyard. We’ll stay, settle in and drive Gramps mad with our mess. Their hallways will be full of noise, a race will start, bathrooms will be full, and squeals will be made.

“You know, my Mum and I always say we’ve been kind of lucky with how much time the children have been able to spend with her. Even though we live overseas when we come home we do so for huge stretches of time. We lived at Granny’s for three months once when we were in-between a move. We’ve never done the drop-in visit or the overnighter, Granny has always been stuck with us for the long haul.”

“Yes, that true.” she agreed.

We chatted some more, got back onto the sausage rolls and then said goodbye. “See you next time” I said, because it always has be next time, it can never be goodbye. Especially if it’s Grandma.

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