‘Say goodbye to ‘Little Ma’ and Aunty Ada, now.’
It’s time for our Grandmother and spinster Aunt to leave.
We are old enough for a peck on our cheeks
And a sixpence is pressed into each palm.
Our thanks are over-profuse to be sincere
But the money will be useful;
There is not a lot of it around for us kids
Although we lived in a large house,
Ran a family car and had holidays.

The departure changes little for us –
We had small speaking parts
At the start of the visit, answering questions;
And then were expected to make ourselves scarce
While the adults talked,
Until the call came for the farewell.
We are not really aware of the conventions,
But just fit in to the parts bestowed on us
At these family visits.
After all, as children in an age
Where they should be seen and not heard
And the rod is not spared so as not to spoil the child,
Fitting in is more or less mandatory.
Sulking or withdrawing to our bedrooms our only weapons;
And an ice-cold bedroom in winter
Sometimes leaves sulking the only option.

And we survived, or I did;
And now as a Gulliver in a different age
I see everything as being so free and easy.
The humans whose only contact was a cheek-peck
Are now so tactile.
Great hugs in the hallway as I depart.
No sixpences, but real affection.
I am overwhelmed with comparative thoughts
As I drive home through the light traffic.
We humans can become anything;
Would that we could stay as we are
When a plateau of universal love
Keeps intact the progress made.

August 2014