Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our Australia

My dad was born and raised in Australia, but has spent most of his adult life in the U.S. On his trips back to Oz through the years he has of course mostly visited family, and hasn't spent much time exploring new parts of the country.

He just visited us in Iluka for two weeks. This was a great chance for us to catch up with him, and it was also a chance for Alisa and me to show him "our" spot in Oz - a place that we discovered on our own, and that, not at all incidentally, is similar in some ways to the more rural, more lightly populated coastal Australia that my dad remembers from the good old days - a place, in other words, where you can still find solitude on a beautiful beach without trying very hard at all.

Elias slept over at my dad's holiday unit a lot - half the nights dad was here, or more. The first night he had trouble going to sleep - "I don't want you to go!" he said as I was tucking him in, losing all his bravery. He woke up that night crying and didn't fall asleep again until my dad had sung Waltzing Matilda ten times, and in the morning he was inconsolable until Alisa and I returned from Pelagic. But within a few days he was volunteering how much he liked sleeping in a room of his own, and by the end of the visit he was crawling into bed with my dad early in the morning and falling back asleep.

Elias also enjoyed playing cricket with my dad. Cultural milestone - cricket, not baseball, was his first sport with bat and ball! The cricket-savvy among you will realize that Elias isn't quite using the wicket in the accepted manner.

My Dad arrived with goodies we had ordered from the U.S. - including Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Alisa, let loose in the vast expanse of a real kitchen, as opposed to our tiny galley, outdid herself. She even made pork chops, which I have been requesting(fruitlessly) for two years.
Having Elias and my dad together brought up inescapable thoughts about time, and the march of us from one generation to another. My mom's dad is 94, my dad is a hale 71, I'm banging along at 41, and Elias is 3. Early in the visit I got to trot out my authoriatian persona when I looked up and saw Elias kicking his grandad on the couch ("DON'T YOU KICK YOUR GRANDFATHER!"). Later that day dad told me that when his father visited us in the States, my dad looked up at one point to see three year old me kicking my 80 year old grandad. What an idea - I don't have any memories of my dad's dad, and I would give anything to know what he sounded like, to talk with him for an hour and see how similar he was to my dad, hear some of his life experience, etc. But when I was three, I was happy to just sit there and kick him.

Elias, meanwhile, has only the foggiest notion of time spans greater than a year. But when he asks us if we love him, and we say "yes", his next question is, "Will you love me forever?"

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