Letter to my grandson (xxx)

You have just returned from a visit to the Western Australian branch of the family. The visit was that was intended to be a family celebration tragically became a funeral for your uncle Adam.

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You are probably too young to remember him but that does not make the family bonds that bind the two you any the weaker.

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Adam’s death was devastating for both your mother and your grandparents.  Of course, you are too young to understand what had happened and it was somewhat bittersweet to see you and Poppy and Nana Tresham enjoying each other’s company so much.

I hope that you and your mum and dad gave your grandparents a sense that even in the darkest times, there is a sense that life goes on.

Nonetheless, it was clear that you were a ray of sunshine as you are in all our lives. By all accounts, you stuck pretty close to your dad while you were away.

And apparently you were not too happy about having to share him.

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There were, of course, tons of playmates.

And you continued to attract older women.

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But your Nana and I missed you desperately and when I met you and your mum and dad at the airport, I got a wonderful coming-home present.

You had fallen asleep just as the plane landed and your dad carried you from the plane to the baggage-pickup where I was waiting for you.  I got to hold you while your mom and dad collected the baggage and it was a wonderful cuddle. You were fast asleep and you just lay with your head on my shoulder and your arms tucked in underneath you.  It was a wonderful sense of physical reconnection with you.

You woke up on the way home but were very tired and quite subdued. Nana Di came round to your place when we arrived but you still wanted to hang on to your dad and it wasn’t until we were about to leave that you really showed signs that you recognised us.

Next day, your mum brought you round to our place while she went shopping. Nana was working so it was just you and me. It was one of the best afternoons I have spent with you.

I didn’t get a cuddle at the front door as I usually do when you arrive. You were off down the hallway shedding hats and jackets on the way. I couldn’t coax a “hello cuddle”, you are only interested in emptying boxes of your favourite toys onto the floor.

Eventually, you settled on the Lego train and I sat on the sofa and you stood between my legs and we built a train together.  What was surprising was the way you nestled into me while we were doing it. You’ve never done that before.

And that was how the afternoon developed. You went round and rediscovered all your toys but insisted that I come with you to share them. After I read “I know a rhino”,  you went upstairs as you usually do, took off your shoes and got into bed with your soft toys.

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You haven’t forgotten that you don’t yet have a rhino or a dragon and you are on a  promise from Nana and Pappa.

Then I asked you if you would like me to tell you a story and you opted for Goldilocks and the three bears. You sat up in your little bed and watch me with unbroken and unblinking concentration. I don’t think I have ever had such an attentive or appreciative audience. It was beautiful.

When we went downstairs, you were happy sit on the sofa with me and to choose some books for me to read. You were very cuddly and when we had finished reading, you just snuggled into me and looked out the window.

We have this game we play, when I’m trying to get you to go to sleep. I pretend to close my eyes and when I do you close yours as well also pretending to be asleep. Every now and then, we both have a peek to see if the other one is asleep.

Your Nana thinks you probably spend too much time with grown-ups. She is probably right. But as a result of this, you are developing a remarkable sense of how to relate to grown-ups, well, at least to your grandparents.  You know there are games to be played: but you know that there are strict rules and both sides must obey them. It’s peeping to see if the other one is asleep, it’s making sure that everybody has a bat when we play hallway cricket and that everybody has a fire hat when we set off to put out a fire.

It was a wonderful afternoon and I know that your WA grandparents will miss you desperately, but it was good to have you home.

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