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  • Writer's pictureKaren

Hugs, kisses or handshakes?

Originally written December 13, 2018

Back to our journey…

I love going to the airport, not just when I am boarding a plane to an exotic island (dream on!!) but also when I am picking people up. I love watching other people and how they greet each other and trying to work out whether they are friends, business colleagues, lovers, family or strangers.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to meet your family as strangers? Not something that most people have to think about.

Well back in July 2017 when Tony came to visit us for the first time, we all went to the airport to meet him, me, my mum and my two daughters. Now I look back on it that could have been quite overwhelming for him – sorry Uncle Tony! On our way there my youngest daughter asked me ‘what is Grandma going to do when she meets him – shake his hand, hug him or kiss him?’ It’s a strange question. When you first meet a stranger you don’t normally think about it, out goes your hand for that firm handshake but meeting your brother for the first time at the age of 79 is a totally different situation.

So….what did she do? Well, there was no question about it, they gave each other a huge hug – tears all around! It all happened so quickly I missed capturing it on film. Thankfully that visit went well so our planned trip to Australia for Mums birthday in December was the next time Mum had to think about this question but by then there was no doubt in her mind. Hugs and kisses all around. Starting with meeting her other brother Brian when we arrived at the house. Little did she know that we were going to meet nearly all of the family – brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grand-nephews and nieces. It was like the gathering of the clans.

Tony and Amanda had planned a wonderful trip to Melbourne for us all. Baby showers, family gatherings, dinners out, breakfasts out, visits to the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, which Tony’s father was involved in the construction of, a tour around Mount Eliza and the Mornington Peninsula to visit the places where Mum’s Mum, Jean, had spent most of her life and to top it off I got to see a Kookaburra and we went searching for kangaroos! Mum got to tick off one of her all time wishes – a drive in a Jaguar Mk II.

There are so many cherished memories from our time in Australia, too many to list really but one of the most memorable moments for me was meeting my Aunty Betty. Betty had spent her childhood telling her brothers that they had another sister somewhere in the world and that she remembered playing with her before she was taken away by another family. Finally, she was proved right. I went to visit her with my Mum and Amanda, sadly she had dementia and was unable to speak but when she saw a picture of mum as a young child and we explained who she was she definitely recognised her and smiled. Amanda wrote on her blackboard – ‘you were right you do have another sister, her name is Janet and this is her’. I spent most of the time with her just looking into her beautiful blue eyes. Sadly just 3 weeks later she died but at least she had met mum 1 last time – nearly 79 years after they were last separated.

It really was a magical trip that we will all treasure. I can’t thank my family enough for welcoming us so openly into your family. More trips will be planned in the future I’m sure.

So next time you are in an airport have a look around at the people, you never know, you may be witnessing a family meeting for the first time.

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