Well, not tonight, but that’s the general idea.
I’ve always associated my little brother Daniel with the Elton John song of the same name. I knew that it was a song about saying goodbye to a brother, but I didn’t realise the lyrics were actually about a blind Vietnam veteran travelling to Spain (the wonders of a Google search). It’s quite a sad song about farewells (‘Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye/God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes’).
My brother’s not going to Spain (and he still has full eyesight) – but he and his wife Megan and young son are moving to New Zealand to live. They’ve sold up, packed their home into a shipping container, and later this week they fly out. I had them over for lunch yesterday to say goodbye. I think it’s a good move on their part, but it will be strange having them live in a different country.
It’s odd because I’ve been doing a lot of research about my ancestors emigrating to America and Australia, as well as finding out about people connected to my family who came from Europe just before the outbreak of World War II. I’ve been thinking about ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors and why someone would want or need to move countries, how that would feel and what impact that would have on them and the people they leave behind. I think of the photos of my Mum and Dad standing with their parents for family portraits just before they emigrated forty years ago, and I wonder if they recognised that it might have been the last time they saw their families. I think of the photos taken yesterday, of people standing together in the knowledge that these images record a similar occasion. I guess the difference now is that people are far more mobile, and we can maintain connections through technology. But the distance remains.
This photo of Daniel is from a while back – he’s an adult now (which is how he came to be married and have children…). He’s pictured with our long-departed rabbit, Godzilla, so named because he developed something of an attitude and would actually growl and try to bite you. As his older brother I still think of Daniel as a little boy with blond curls, even though that was a quarter of a century ago.
Good luck Daniel! Must be the clouds in my eyes.