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Almost four years ago we emigrated from Ireland to Canada with our two young children. They were surrounded by loving grandparents, doting Aunts and Uncles and adoring cousins. We knew nobody in Canada. Ireland was in a deep recession and we were another fleeing family seeking a better future.
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Prior to leaving I wrote this poem for both sets of
Grandparents. It was hard to write and
harder to give. The guilt that we were
“taking them away” had set in and it has never really left me.
A FAREWELL POEM
Oh Nana and Grandpa
we love you so
But it’s off to
Canada we must go
We hate to think that
we’ll soon be leaving
They’ll have to take
us Kicking and Screaming
This is not a Goodbye
but a little farewell
As we’ll see you soon
and that will be swell.
We know on a plane
you both will hop
That is correct ain’t
A long journey it
But the both of us
you will see.
We’re sure you’d also
like to see Mom and Dad
Visiting the four of
us won’t be so bad.
We’ll have a bed
ready for you both
We’ll make you
welcome when you take off your coat.
There will be no
point coming for a week or two,
Sure stay for a month
– that will do!
Or maybe you’ll
decide not to go
And you’ll stay in
Canada ain’t that so?
Wishful thinking we
But God loves a
trier, wink wink wink.
We’ll finish this ode
by saying we love you,
You’re a great Nana
and Grandpa, ain’t you two?
We will stay in touch
on skype were we can see your face
And in our memories
you will not erase.
LOTS OF LOVE
Prior to emigrating I had a wonderful relationship with
Dublin Airport. It allowed me to travel
the world in my twenties. It was an
exciting place. Our relationship became
sour in 2011. I have since formed a
relationship with Edmonton International Airport, it is bittersweet. It has
taken me back home twice, however, it is unrelenting and always takes me back to
my new home again. It doesn’t care if I
want to stay or not.
Each year it delivers familiar smiling faces but just a few
short weeks later the departure gates gobble them up leaving us alone
I found myself at the
dreaded departure gate again. It has got
easier. I used to cry before our family
even arrived, the reason, I was thinking they would have to leave. As time progressed I was able to control my
emotions and cry while they were here!!!
My sister and my two nieces came to visit two years ago, three days
before they left I was in Southgate Shopping Mall and yes you’ve guessed it I
just started to Cry. I am trying to
become stronger for our kids. Last night
Nana Kathleen’s visit came to an end and we all said our goodbyes. I held it together. Out of her earshot, Ryan, my youngest aged
two, said “Goodbye Nana Kathleen, she not hear me. I wuv you.
I want a hug”. Guess what…………
I was heartbroken leaving as I felt I was taking our
children away from a very important aspect of their lives - their extended
family. We didn’t know a sinner in
Edmonton. We were taking them away from
the love of their Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. You cannot replace this love, it is
invaluable and as natural as the air we breathe. It forms us as individuals. My daughter left
with an Irish accent but now only her adopted expressions from Mommy &
Daddy indicate she is not 100% Canadian.
I am a mother. I
cannot be their grandmother, Aunt or cousin.
I cannot replace that dynamic relationship. A grandmother like a grandfather provides a
different kind of love for their grandchildren.
It is unique and should be savoured.
There is nothing like the team of an extended family around to support
your developing child. It is a cocoon of
love and adoration and lots of chocolate treats. I often feel myself and my
husband are just not enough?
Once our visitors depart they are then replaced with
technology - Viber messages and Skype.
There is a generation of children who think it is normal to have a
relationship with special family members through the medium of a computer. Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky we are
as a generation, but I can’t help but think that this is an artificial relationship. Powerful but artificial.
The feast became a
Google informs me that a mere 6,368km lies between Edmonton
and Dublin. Dublin is always ahead of
us, by 7 hours in fact. An average
flight from Edmonton to Dublin would set you back $1,000. It is therefore neither close nor cheap to
experience the human touch. Technology
is free and reigns supreme.
Having a baby away
In 2012 I became pregnant with our third child Ryan. We made a Canadian. My third pregnancy was worlds apart literally
and figuratively from my first two. My
husband was out working, I was running around after two small kids with an
expanding belly. Credit to Jamie who was
able to put my shoes on me. I had no
family around me. I had made good
friends, whom were all Moms also running around after their own kids. Outwardly
I was managing but inside I had so many reservations. I worried about what was going to happen once
I went into labour. I prayed it was
going to happen one weekend afternoon, not 3am mid-week. I asked one of our friends would she mind
taking the kids when baby number three decided the time was right. She was fabulous and set my mind at
ease. I sought help and I got it with
open arms. The thought of who was going
to mind Laura-Leigh when I had Jamie never crossed my mind, it was a given, it
was a family member who lived locally.
Ryan was born in January of 2013 and some of our families
visited that year and in 2014 which was magical. We took Ryan home for the first time in
January of this year approaching his second birthday and it was his first time
meeting a lot of his extended family. Most of his family had not met him. They heard about his milestones as opposed to
experienced them first hand with us.
Understandably it took him days to actually form a relationship with “these
people”. One of the hardest moments was
when he was sick and he wouldn’t go near anybody else except me. The room was full of family but they were
strangers to him.
A puzzle with missing
Our lives would be different if our extended families were
still in our daily lives in the flesh. I
have absolutely no doubt of that. I
think our kids would be slightly different, they would be exposed to these
really important relationships which would have an impact on their
My life would be different.
On a selfish note, there would be a lot more breaks from the struggles
of parenting. I think I have really aged
since I touched down on Canadian soil.
Perhaps I would look younger had I stayed at home? Perhaps with more “time outs” for myself, my
sentences might actually make sense.
I turn forty next year (how in God’s name did that
happen?!!!). I have absolutely no idea
how long more our journey in Canada will last.
My heart is in the Emerald Isle but my kids are growing up here and I am
conscious that when/if we go back the timing has got to be perfect. I have heard so many stories from previous
generations of people returning to Ireland but not settling and returning to
their new home. Will I be one of
With every day that passes here, it is one less day to spend
with my extended family. It is one less
day that my kids don’t get a cuddle from Nana, chocolate from Grandpa, time
spent with Aunts and Uncles and sleepovers with their cousins. The guilt it appears is here to stay.
We are blessed with a
fantastic circle of friends whom our kids adore. I often find that the new friends we have
made have some of the same qualities of friends and family back home. Destiny plays a strong part.
I cannot imagine life without the cellphone, Facebook, Viber
and the technological God that is Skype.
However, as wonderful as modern technology is, you cannot replace human
touch. You cannot replace a kiss on the
cheek, a warm bear hug – your family in the flesh. There is simply nothing like it.
Lovely to read your story Lisa. I left Ireland in 2013 with my husband and daughter and are making our lives here. It is always hard to leave family but we make our choices and hope they are right. I look forward to reading more of your stories.
Posted by Ann B on Jul 17 '15, 7:32 p.m. |
| Flag as abuse
Hi Ann, thank you so much for first of all reading my blog and secondly for taking the time to write. We are not alone, there are a lot of people in the same boat. Canada is a great place so we chose well, distance is the hard part. I wish you and your family the very best of everything here. :O) Go raibh mhaith agait.
Posted by Lisa R on Aug 10 '15, 8:45 p.m. |
| Flag as abuse
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