I, arguably, have a weakness for accents. There’s no other way to explain it. (Well, astrologically, I have my moon in the 9th house, but that’s the same thing, really.)
In high school, I fell for a beautiful Swedish lad with hair the colour of the sun on clouds and eyes the same deep blue as the ocean, far out at sea.
He was also, and more importantly, the smartest person I had ever met. He understood history, international politics, and literature. Even better, he had an “on” button. It was easy to start him off, and then he could talk for hours! I learned so much!
He was sophisticated (at least for 17 year old). When he planned a picnic, there was nary a bologna sandwich in sight!
He took me to a tropical waterfall, where we dined on caviar, salmon, crusty bread with butter, wine, olives, and fancy cheeses, the like of which I had never tasted!
We read books aloud and discussed them. We talked (well, he talked, I learned) endlessly.
Eventually, nature being what it is, we had a child. And then another.
We had been wonderfully compatible playmates, but it turned out that we were far less compatible for adult life. Unfortunately, we were young enough not to have thought to discuss our needs and expectations, which were completely different.
The marriage didn’t last much more than four years. He stayed in the US, near the children and took them for weekends and holidays.
Many years later, as the children became teenagers, they got it into their heads that Sweden, where they had spent holidays and summers all their lives, was a much better place to live than the place where they had experienced the drudgery of winter and school and poverty. First one, and then the other, moved there. As did my ex.
It was difficult to have my whole family move away from me. I was pretty upset, but also busy enough not to dwell on it. And a part of me assumed they would be back. Then came the phone calls. There were to be children.
I guess they’re not coming back.
I continued to visit them every three years or so. Fortunately, my income crept up enough so that I could alternate between visiting Sweden and visiting Australia, and it only took an extra year or so to put the money together.
And then, Rod got sick. I had to retire and move NOW and move to Australia, so that he could get the medical care he needed. I expected to continue to work and thought it would be easier and less expensive to go back to having only one International destination. Nonetheless, I planned one last visit with them on my way to Australia.
As the time grew shorter before I left, word was growing more and more dire – there was some fear that Rod wouldn’t live to see me again if I didn’t hurry. I was begged to skip the visit to see my children ‘for now”. I resisted, because I didn’t think he was that ill, but in the end, I agreed. I retired a month early and bought my tickets.
When I arrived, I learned that Rod had been deemed to require a full time carer, and that I had been elected. I was not going to be able to work. I had skipped my trip, only to learn that there would be no way to earn the money for another one.
I haven’t entirely lost hope that I will see my oldest children and their children again. I have no idea how that can happen, but I had no idea how we would finance the move here, either. Sometimes, things sort themselves out.
And, when I started to feel very, very sorry for myself, I remember the mother of my ancestor Louis Gasnier who moved to Canada from St. Martin, D’ige, Perche, France in 1644. His mother, Marie Launay, had died four years earlier, so I guess she didn’t miss him, but his father probably never saw him again. Maybe he got letters occasionally, maybe he didn’t.
But he didn’t have Facebook. He couldn’t have a face to face conversation with his son and his grandchildren. I can. The language remains challenging, but we have the option. The children now understand my English (but not my Swedish) and one day, maybe they will feel confident enough to speak to me rather than just smile at me while their fathers chatter with me.
I am learning how to do family across the miles, but I am so very glad to be doing it in the 21st century.