The most important thing that happened was probably the dinner party I went to at the Leitch’s house on Saturday night. Graeme is an old school friend of Dad’s and he and his wife Ingrid invited me over almost as soon as I was in town. I didn’t see them last weekend because it was their daughter Una’s birthday, but was invited over again this weekend for a little get together. It was a lovely affair, full of old friends (for them) and new ones (for me). Everybody brought some kind of dish (except me, I didn’t know…) and they were those wonderful kinds of foods that are both very healthy and incredibly delicious. As a result, I went to bed over-stuffed, a thing I promise myself never to do again as it is very uncomfortable. I have promised myself this many times, and perhaps it has finally sunk in. Probably not.
We chatted of various and sundry things: France, trains, travel in America, where Bloomington actually is on a map, tea towels, family, etc. The family bit was most exciting because Greg, the patriarch of the neighboring family that came to visit, said something along the lines of, “Hitchings, Hitchings… Do you know Elspeth Hitchings?” “She was my grandmother,” I replied. He was astounded and excited, and joyfully recounted a time he had visited her house. Then he invited me to visit, with him and his wife, Jackie Amuamu, who was my grandmother’s life-long friend. She’s quite old now and not doing terribly well, and he thought a visit from Elspeth’s granddaughter might bring her some joy. I am more than happy to acquiesce! It is a new experience for me to be fulfilling family “obligations” in a foreign country, but a large part of the reason I came to New Zealand was to connect with this side of my family and heritage. So to me, it does not seem an obligation but, rather, an opportunity. I am excited to be given the opportunity to meet with someone from my family’s past and, additionally, to be afforded the chance to offer care and love to a person, even though we have never met.