The sun is rising on our last morning in Sydney. Outside are the calls of tree frogs and unfamiliar birds. Inside there are some few soft, brief whimpers from Zoe as she moves in her sleep and soon there will be the padding of Naomi's feet on the stairs. My son Nick lives in Five Dock, in the part of the city known as the Inner West where he and Charmayne have a four bedroom two bathroom house about 30 minutes by car or bike or train from Nick's office in the Quay area.
We have been here almost a week, meeting our newest grandchild and celebrating Naomi's 5th birthday. There has been a picnic and a few brief trips in the car, but mostly we've been pretty domestic. There have been many contented hours when I've been left holding the baby, and many more being cast in one of Naomi's games. Clemency's roles in these dramatic productions involve the two women, separated in age by a mere 59 years, sitting side by side, placing small plastic dolls into modestly sized plastic houses and voicing conversations. My role is usually as a villainous beast of some sort or other, ravenous for whatever creature Naomi is currently pretending to be, and involves much chasing, dodging, catching, squealing and escaping. My character can always, but always, be defeated by magic. There were also books to be read, hands to be held, walks to be taken, prams to be pushed. Nick's house has no garden as such, but it does have a leafy little deck, and yesterday we helped to reorder it. Today I believe we will be organising storage in the underground garage. Happy, happy, happy.
I'm reading two significant books at the moment, Henri Nouwen's The Inner Voice of Love and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal and both have been a providential commentary on our trip here. Time passes. There are events which are eagerly awaited future happenings; they arrive, are experienced and then move into memory. Our August trip to Australia. Zoe's birth and before her, Naomi's. Nick's wedding in Hawaii. Nick's birth. Our wedding. Life. It is all so full and rich and beautiful. It is all so inexorable, and timeless. It is all so brief. I am daily more aware of the things which really matter to me, and by things I mean people. He aha te mea nui o te Ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. I am surrounded by those who love me, and who therefore mediate to me that greater love in which all this is held.
Through a wall, Zoe is crying. It's probably been another unsettled night for Nick and Charms, so in a few minutes I will make tea and read my book and hold my tiny granddaughter to my chest while her parents sleep a little longer. I am so grateful to be alive and to be here.