Some Days Are Diamonds for Sisters

Sister Anne baths baby Luca watched by her daughter, my niece, Sonya.

Sister Anne baths baby Luca watched by her daughter, my niece, Sonya.

My sister Anne has a crammed life, but today we shared some incredibly uplifting sisterly events.

On the eve of Mothers Day, we bought chrysanthemums from a road stall and visited our mother,
Florrie’s grave at the Enfield Memorial Park.  This is the first time in many years that we have joined our hands to reflect together on how privileged we have been to have such a great mum. It is 17 years since she died and we reminisced on how we still miss her. But she has missed so much in our family life, especially the births of 10 great grand-children. The 10th little fellow, Anne’s second grand-son was born a week ago and our prime purpose of today is to visit the baby at home with his mother, Sonya (my niece, of course).

But first, we sisters stop at the Elizabeth Shopping Centre for lunch. (If it is good enough for Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to visit the hub of Elizabeth’s suburban life, then we felt at home settling down at the Louisiana Tavern for fillet steak and chips with Bearnaise sauce and salad.

Then Sonya texted her mother asking for help bathing baby and her cry for grandmotherly help with her first child had us rushing back to the car without coffee to a suburb further north.

Three daughters and one daughter-in-law of our big family have given birth to five babies in 21 months and each child is so delightfully new and precious, as is the latest newborn, a boy named Luca.  A 3kg little fellow, his gushing grandma Anne immediately changed a stinky pooey nappy while mother Sonya prepared his baby bath on the kitchen table.

“It’s a very stylish bath,’’ I commented running my hand along the sculpted side and eyeing off the little plug in the bottom.

“I gave Sonya the bath for Christmas,’’ said Anne proudly.

It was such a happy scenario as we watched entranced as Anne splashed little Luca, who clearly enjoyed the sensation.  Then, it was time for him to be dried, carefully in every delicate fold of his skin,  and dressed and soothed off to sleep in the bouncer.

A month ago, I fell in love with my own grandson, Zachary, who, at five weeks old has gained much weight to be 5 kgs.  Over Easter I was privileged to stay with son Tyson and daughter-in-law Vanessa and during that time, the Mothercraft nurse visited the new mother in her home.   Memories flooded back of my own parenting as a first-time mother in my mid 20s. It is such a long time ago, but I remember the initial awe at the sight of my first-born, daughter Serena.    However had I delivered such an exquisite child?     My two other children triggered the same delight and self-satisfaction – at giving birth after a short four hour labour to Felicia and nine years later that hazy first look at my last child, son Tyson, after recovering from anaesthetic and a caesarean.

To relive it all through grand-children (I have five now) and grand-nieces and grand-nephews  is a precious passage of time and sure compensation for the ageing process.  Each moment is a joy to sit and watch and admire the next generation of young mothers slip easily into their vital role.

Amidst this reflection, the British-born mothercraft nurse  was happy with Zachary’s progress.   He presented as a picture of health and contentment and when he piddled high into the air when his nappy was removed, this was hailed by the nurse as a sign of a healthy newborn.Zachary and I meet each other

“A strong stream is a sign of a healthy babe,’’ said the nurse, who had a distinct English accent.

However, today Sonya was tired and soon we were visiting our 92-year-old auntie Lilian at the other end of the life spectrum.  Auntie Lillian lives in a residential care facility in Elizabeth and was delighted with our unexpected visit.   She was reading a book for the visually impaired, but put it down to grasp each of us with both hands.  It was a powerful action, linking us in a triangle of familial women.  Auntie has glaucoma, like our father Frank, but this doesn’t stop her watching the Port/Fremantle footy match on television in the common room.

When a staff member handed me a survey to be filled out with Auntie her responses proved that she was a contented resident.

“It’s my home,’’ she said.

“I bring myself here, although I need my walker,’’ she added of her pose in a large lounge chair in the common room.

“I decide what I want to do and sometimes I go to exercises, but not often.’’

“And I do my own hair.’’

What she was saying was that he still ran her own life to the best of her ability in a nursing home.

However, what warmed my soul  as we drove to do grocery shopping together, was we had held hands at mum’s grave, we had caressed baby and frail aged Auntie Lilian gripped both of us simultaneously with her still strong hands.  These were all beautiful gestures of belonging and of being women of the same lineage.

This wonderful feeling will linger hopefully tomorrow, on Mothers Day,  May 11, when my own children are all interstate.   Tomorrow will also commemorate the death of my husband Olivier two years ago.  These days sadness has been usurped by such joys of living as my sister and I shared today.



Hollande’s private life pales his presidency

Segolene Royal, ex long-time partner of French president Francois Hollande

Segolene Royal, ex long-time partner of French president Francois Hollande

There’s always something happening with ‘sex’ and the French!

And presently, French president, Francois Hollande is the star act. He continues to court emotional and political disaster because of his sex life – or should I say lack of it of late.

In France, the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls has the power to install whomever he wishes in his Ministry and they do not need to be parliamentarians of his own ilk, or even voted into parliament.

However, it is ironic that in the huge shakeup of the French Government, who should benefit from the fray, but none other than powerful French politician, Segolene Royal, who for almost a quarter of a century was the defacto wife of French president, Francois Hollande – and the mother of his four children!

Now she has been installed as the new “Ministère de l’Ecologie” in the government of her former common law husband Francois.

So, whilst her arch rivale Valery Trierweiler, stole Hollande from Segolene’s bed chamber at the very time she was standing for president of France, the worm has turned. Trierweiler has been ushered out of the Elysses Palace by the president in a very public breakup, and, it seems Segolene is now back in favour, politically at least.

For many years, Hollande and Royal were the socialist power couple of France and it was surely a cruel trick of fate that Segolene should lose the French election to Sarkozy and that her estranged partner, Francois Hollande should win the coveted presidency five years later.

Meanwhile, the hot love affair between Hollande and French actress/comedienne Julie Gayet has also soured with news from France that the high profile actress has not been able to cope with the pressure of being the president’s pet and has been worried about the affair’s impact on her career. So, she called it all off.

French actress, Julie Gayet

French actress, Julie Gayet

Ah, but this is not the end, it seems. According to Closer magazine, the same French mag which sprang Hollande’s night time trysts with Gayet, now announces that Hollande has begun seeing Trierweiler again dining with her in a restaurant for all to see.

One can only hope that he is more decisive over his policies than he seems to be in his private life.