Family matters

Jessica and Andrew, Madelyn and Isabelle (photo by me)
Jessica and Andrew, Madelyn and Isabelle (photo by me)

Back in London, I’m in the back of the taxi taking me to the hospital — nothing serious, just a check-up — and the driver, with whom I normally exchange a couple of pleasantries about the weather or the traffic before we both fall silent decides that today he’s going to tell me his life story. I don’t mind. It’s a lovely morning and his story is quite interesting: he comes originally from Kurdistan, “not a country any more” and he’s been in London for more than 20 years. Has he any family back home, I ask, and he says there are lots of them. They’ve mostly gravitated to Istanbul, and they’re constantly asking him send them money.

I’m thinking a lot about my own family, my nephew and niece, who emigrated to New Zealand 20-odd years ago and now have families there that I’d never met, but this summer they’ve been back in England for an extended visit and I’ve been able to meet up with them and spend some time with them, which has been marvellous.

Things got off to a slightly shaky start when Jessica (married to nephew Andrew) tested positive for COVID which she must have caught on the plane and they all had to isolate for a while, so my first meeting with them took place on the back lawn with plenty of social distancing, like lockdown revisited. This was my first sight of Andrew’s family and even without hugs I fell instantly in love with them all. It was great for me to able to buy the girls presents too — it’s been years since I’ve had any kids to spoil — and later of course we got together for proper meetings and meals out too. I suppose that everyone thinks their own kids are special and adorable, and I certainly do. I won’t go on about them. I’m sure yours are great too.

Madeleyn and Isabelle
Madelyn and Isabelle (blurry photo by me)

Later, in August, my niece Juliet arrived too, and it was wonderful to see her again. She came on her own because her kids are older and there have been changes as her son Finn has taken up his invitation to go as a trainee to Wellington Phoenix (NZ’s best soccer club, I now know), which means that the family’s relocating from Tauranga. I hope to meet the whole tribe one day, and maybe I will because they’re talking about coming over next year for a massive family reunion. Wow. I’m getting a lot more luck then I deserve.

Juliet, me and Andrew (photo by Jessica)
Juliet, overweight me and Andrew (photo by Jessica)

The results of the cancer tests are good, btw. My PSA is now extremely low, and my testosterone level is heading in the right direction. If only I didn’t feel so tired all the time I could get a few things done, but I’ve no complaints really, and it’s still a lovely day.


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