‘We’ll call you on the big day, Mum. You can watch Maudie open her presents.’
Ruth laughed and blew kisses at her son and new granddaughter.
‘I shouldn’t think she’ll be opening them herself at barely two months old!’
‘Well, she’s very advanced, of course,’ Joe grinned. ‘See you on Christmas Day, Mum. Lauren says hi, too. She’s busy cooking dinner at the moment.’
His face vanished from the screen and Ruth had a fleeting thought of the Cheshire Cat fading, leaving his smile behind. She sighed. This wasn’t what she had expected of grandparenthood.
When Joe’s company sent him to Australia it was meant to be for two years only. But Joe had fallen in love with that vast country and then he had met Lauren and fallen in love with her, too. Now Australia was his home.
Ruth knew she must count her blessings. Since she and Phil retired they were free to visit whenever they liked and this wonderful technology allowed them to keep in touch. She couldn’t begin to imagine what it must have been like years ago. In those days, separated families just had to wait for the postman to deliver a flimsy airmail letter that took weeks to arrive.
‘You OK, love?’ Phil was back from last-minute Christmas shopping. ‘How are they doing over there?’
She gave him a shaky smile.
‘Oh they’re absolutely fine. Joe is bursting with pride and Maudie is delightful as ever and they’re going to Skype us on Christmas Day, so we can see her opening her presents.’
‘You look like you need a hug.’ Phil wrapped his arms around her and she buried her head in his shoulder.
‘Don’t be upset. We’ll see them very soon. After Christmas, we’ll book our flights and then we can stay as long as we like and really get to know baby Maudie.’
‘Yes, I know you’re right,’ she said. ‘It’s just that I was so excited when they said they would come here for Christmas this year.’
‘Well, there’s always next year,’ Phil said sensibly. ‘Of course, it would have been great to have Joe and Lauren here, but when they found out Maudie was on the way, we all agreed it was too far to travel with such a tiny baby.’
He looked at his watch.
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