Leonardo is leaving the nest. Well, not really, because he’s been independant for the last 10 years, but he’s leaving France with a one-way ticket to Australia in two days’ time. What can I say? I did it myself in the other direction! I left Townsville, dry-eyed, brimming over with ill-concealed excitement, with absolutely no intention of going back. I was just a bit younger, that’s all. Twenty-two. Leonardo’s about to turn 30 and this was totally unexpected because he hasn’t been to Australia for 15 years. He simply announced one night in February, after our Wednesday family dinner, that while in the shower he had suddenly decided he would go and live in Australia. It took a few months to get a new citizenship certificate because the original one had disappeared. Then he bought his ticket. Every time it crossed my mind, I chased it away but when it finally sank in, I cried for a week. At the end I was absolutely exhausted! Not to mention the added wrinkles. Then Leonardo, who’s an IT expert, helped me set up this blog. Now I feel I can face the world again.
The interesting part is how people reacted during my tearful week. “You have to know how to let your kids go. It’s their life, not yours.” (Yeah, I’ve read Kahil Gibran too). “You’ll see. He’ll be back after a year”. (Oh yes? Is that what I did?). “Don’t worry, you’ve got Black Cat. (Yes, well, that’s debatable as well. Three months after I left home, my 19-year old brother packed his bags and went touring with his theatre troup. It didn’t take long for the 16-year old to say “Well, I’m not staying around here by myself!”. My poor mother.) “You know, today, there’s all sorts of technology. I have a friend who talks to her son in Mexico via the Internet.” (God, I was already skyping Black Cat when she went to Australia for a year as an exchange student 5 years ago. I had no problem about her leaving. I KNEW SHE WAS COMING BACK.) “It’ll give you an excuse to visit him in Australia.” (She doesn’t know you have to spend 20 hours in a plane to go to Australia? She doesn’t know the price of the fares?). “My children have moved out. You mustn’t hold your kids back.” (Who says I’m holding them back?) “So”, I asked, “and where are children living now?” “Oh, one of them has gone to Le Mans” (200 K away) “and the other one’s found a place down the street.” (And she thinks that’s the same as going to Australia? Gimme a break).
When I told my over-80 aunts in Australia, Globetrotter and Artist, how upset I was, Globetrotter, widowed mother of 5 offspring living in Darwin, Freemantle, Sydney and Melbourne (she lives in Armidale), said philosophically, “Well, that’s what happens you know. They all go their own way”, while Artist, mother of 3 sons who all live, as she does, in coastal New South Wales, replied “It must be terrible for you. I’m not surprised you’re crying.”
Maple Leaf and Kiwi, also expats with small children, totally understood my reaction. “I have a bad feeling I will be saying this in 15 years… I feel sad just thinking about it so I can imagine how you must feel.” “Like Maple Leaf, my heart goes out to you and I too wonder if I’ll be feeling the same thing in 15-20 years’ time.”
But the comment I liked best was Redfern’s. I posted on Facebook that Leonardo was leaving, adding “I can only wish him luck and hope he finds what he is looking for, even though my mother’s heart is heavy.” Redfern answered, “That’s just so sweet Fraussie, what a great Mum. When my brother first left Perth for Sydney my mother threatened to kill me if I ever dared mention leaving home!” Now that’s the sort of comment I like!