Parting is such sweet sorrow…….

Here, in Christchurch, it is the day after Mother’s Day. And, in a way, I am glad it is the day after. Mother’s Day is always a  bittersweet day for me and, I would say, for one reason or another, it is for most mothers.

This morning, a friend, and fellow mother, came by to bring me some medlars and a jar of feijoa and vanilla jam.  I had provided her with the feijoas (pineapple guavas) from my tree and she had produced her culinary wand and turned them into an utterly delicious spread for my toast and bread, scone and bun (penny one).

Over the garden gate, we discussed our Mother’s Day celebrations. My friend started her Mother’s Day with a farewell to her son at the airport. He is off to work in Australia, our big neighbouring country across the Ditch, aka the Tasman Sea. Her Day was bittersweet. She was proud to have a son making his own way in the world, but sad to see him moving abroad.

This is how it is for many of us in New Zealand. Our generation, generations before and those of today, at some time or another, have moved, and continue to move, away from New Zealand. Some call it their OE (overseas experience), some just go. Some return and some don’t.   I think, if one lives on an island nation, always facing the sea, it is inevitable, that many  of us will, eventually,  feel the pull to see what lies over the horizon; to set upon a journey. Recent estimates of the New Zealand diaspora suggest that about 650,000 of us live outside New Zealand, with about half a million of that number living in Australia.  Amongst my friends and relations and acquaintances, there is scarcely a single one that is  without at least one family member living away from New Zealand.  Our families are, as they were from the very beginning of human settlement in New Zealand, often incomplete; separated by oceans and our vast geographic distance from much of the rest of the world. In my own case, my daughter, my parents and my siblings all live in Australia. And, for years, I lived away from New Zealand too.

On Mother’s Day, I spent some of the day, delighting in the Birth Notices in our local paper. Not something I usually do, but I had a little time to twiddle my thumbs, and the notices caught my eye whilst I was twiddling. They caught my eye mostly because of the names; Sophie, Max, Rose, Lily, Emily, Grace ; some of the short, sweet names reminiscent of names of my grandparents’  and great grandparents’ generations.  As I read the names,  I thought of all these new little ones enjoying their first ever Mother’s Day with their own special Mum. And I wondered, also, where they will all be on Mother’s Day a few decades hence; metaphorically still in their mother’s embrace but, in reality, they may well be far from home. But that is how life goes, with its comings and  goings, its arrivals and departures, interspersed with jam and friends and beauty and randomness. Thus it ever was in families and ever will be. At least in this corner of the world. And maybe in yours too.

‘Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow’  Romeo and Juliet ; this is entirely out of context but the words seem right for my post today.

© silkannthreades

42 thoughts on “Parting is such sweet sorrow…….

  1. Virginia Duran

    This bittersweet post reminded me of my own situation. All my family is in Europe and on Mother’s day I had this akward feeling. Everytime I see the clock I calculate what time is on the other side of the ocean, which is not healthy sometimes. Enjoyed reading this!

  2. melodylowes

    It’s hard to be separated by so great a distance. In my province for many, many years, it has been customary for many of our youth to move to other provinces to find jobs. That is changing slowly as our economy has picked up over the past few years and more opportunities present themselves. I am finding the bittersweet as well, anticipating my son’s move to our nearest city to go to university in the fall. I am happy for him – but will miss him!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Indeed you will miss him but it is wonderful that we can also rejoice in their going out in to the world and in the experiences that will enrich their lives and ours. Who knows; in letting go, they may one day fly high like your amazing countryman in space.

  3. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    ha|! i spent the mother’s day afternoon playing bingo at the beach.. actually, i called out the numbers in spanish and in english… that reminds me, the photos are still in the camera!

    it’s almost ten here, and i’m going to crash soon. tomorrow i’ll be on the road again and back home on friday.


  4. mmmarzipan

    I totally relate to this post as the child of an Aussie family. I have been living abroad for 9 years this year and, as I was born in London, in just a few years I will actually have spent half my life away from the country I think of as being “home”.
    I love many of the names that are coming back in vogue. Both my children have such names. And in the generations before me there is a Grace, a Rose, a Lilli, etc. If I ever have another little boy, he’ll be a Charlie (after my grandfather, Charles).
    Feijoas sound amazing! Very exotic! And new Zealand is a lovely country. I have only been there once but the experience was eye-opening. It’s a very special place.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you! x

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am so pleased you relate to this post. I was a bit like you, but I came ‘home’ in 1999 and have now accumulated a decent stretch of time at ‘home’. But now I am home and almost everyone else is not; the irony! Yes the sweet old names are lovely. I like Pearl but that one doesn’t seem very popular yet. I love Charlie. My grandfather was Charles or Charlie. My nephew has inherited the name Charles as his second name.Hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day too.

  5. Sheryl

    There are also many areas of the United States where many of the young people move away–and, as in New Zealand, their parents miss them when they move. It is so difficult for young peole to find jobs in some locales.

  6. lagottocattleya

    I love this bittersweet post… My daughter moved out last year, and this summer will be the last one with my son at home. I’m proud of them. At their age I wouldn’t have dared to travel the world the way they do on their own. As long as there is love, we will not lose each other!…I keep joking about maybe my daughter will be moving to New Zealand, because she worked there for a while and fell in love with the people and the nature. And so did we…But as you say – it’s so very far away…

    I smiled a bit when reading about your very long list of names that doesn’t fit well on today’s forms. “I often have to leave some of me out,” My long name never fits in any form I try to fill in. That’s one of the reasons my children got short names.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful post – truly sensitive and heart warming.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Isn’t it wonderful that we share some of the same experiences and feelings, bitter and sweet, across the miles? And I am glad we both know the joy and complications of long names 🙂 ! I am also glad your daughter had such a happy time in New Zealand. Thank you for your warm response to my post.

  7. vsperry

    Your posts are always so thoughtful and full of interesting facts…I guess it surprises me a little bit that people move away from your island…there are a lot of people I know who would love to move to your island. It’s a very beautiful country.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. Most people who leave do return eventually. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a traveller’s gene in our genetic make-up. Is there such a gene? 🙂 Surely there is! The first people to come to New Zealand came by boat (waka) and anyone who travels far to settle on a tiny dot in the middle of vast emptiness must have an adventurous travelling spirit.

  8. Katherine's Daughter

    What a lovely post filled with jam, one’s own children and babies. And I love your quote at the end. As I feel more and more the writer these days, I can respect your inner voice that had you share that with us! Joanne

  9. cindy knoke

    Such a lovely post. I think you have done your job well if your children are grown and independent. Imagine the alternartives? But it doesn’t mean one can’t grieve for the days you were all together. I certainly do. Cheers to you my friend!!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is a job well done; you are right. And a wonderful thing if our offspring feel free and confident to venture into the world on their own. Your mother must be proud of you and your adventuring spirit 🙂

  10. utesmile

    It is hard to let go, our children need to fly the nest though to get their own life going, hard as it may be. I left when I was 23 to move to another country and I never regretted it; I have always been in touch with my parents and now with all this technology it is easy to keep in touch. My boys are still here and I now I will have to let go eventually as well. As long as our relationship is still loving I don’t mind. Love that jam!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, today it is so easy to keep in touch via technology. It’s simply wonderful. I went to boarding school when I was 12 years old and only saw my parents twice a year. Letters were the main form of communication. Letting go is part of a natural process and, as you have experienced yourself, it has a way of working out well.
      Oh yes, the jam is so GOOD. I will let you share some by virtual post 🙂

  11. Clanmother

    I have also noticed the names are going back a generation. Grace has always been a favourite of mine. Time moves and so we continue… Thank you for your wonderful post!!!

    “All is flux, nothing stays still”
    ― Plato

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you to you, and Plato. Interesting that the names in Canada are on the same trend. Wonder if it has anything to do with computerised forms. My very long list of names doesn’t fit well on today’s forms. I often have to leave some of me out, which makes me feel unfinished somehow 😀

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yep, but botter reminded me of that tongue twister “Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said the butter’s bitter….” Do you know that one?

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          This is one version of it:
          Betty Botter bought some butter,
          “But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter;
          If I put it in my batter,
          It will make my batter bitter;
          But a bit of better butter,
          Better than the bitter butter
          Will but make my bitter batter better.”

          So she bought a bit of better butter,
          Better than the bitter butter,
          and made her bitter batter better.

        2. valeriedavies

          Love it… reminds me of that line from AA Milne, ‘ I just want a little bit of butter for my bread’ .. we could go on for ever couldn’t we!

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