I hope you don’t mind me calling you Jacinda even though we have not been introduced. I am Cecilia. One of your people who is stranded overseas. Firstly thank you for all your good work as our New Zealand Prime Minister. You have made us proud. So proud. And now I need to talk to you.
Please excuse me publishing my email to you on my little blog page. This email is from all of us you see. We are a quiet bunch and this letter is written quietly too. To you and any others you choose to read it.
I am writing to ask you to please find a way for us New Zealand mothers and grandmothers, stranded out here in the world, to come home. We have been packed and waiting quietly for a long, long time. We have not joined your lottery because we were trained to allow those less fortunate to go to the head of the line. We have not applied for exemptions because we are working women and we don’t want to add to the workload of an overloaded department. We are well aware of the threat of this virus and have applauded your work so far. We trust you and so we have been waiting for you to put out the call that we are welcome back.
You see, we were caught outside the gates foraging for our families when you closed them. We toughened up and hunkered down out here in the world and worked more and saved more- looking ahead to a time when we would be welcome back home. But it is too long now. We cannot keep this up much longer. I know we are New Zealand women and strong because of it. But please let us come home. The time has come. I will bring my work with me. I am financially independent. I have a good job that works well remotely. I will not cost you a cent. But us mothers and grandmothers – we need to come home now.
We have missed funerals and birthdays and weddings (sorry to hear you had to postpone your wedding but it was the right decision – hard ones often are). I was not there for my father when he needed care, then when Dad was dying I was on the phone with him – the phone – me in Illinois USA and he in Tauranga NZ – listening to his labored breathing and nonsense morphine induced mutterings – my hand over my mouth so he would not hear me cry out loud.
But more than daughters we are mothers. Mothers who are business women and professional women who have worked all our lives to provide for our families. Mothers. Grand-Mothers.
Someone here said to me once why are you so determined to be vaccinated and I said – they can chop my fingers off if it means I get back to my children. A little jab is nothing. It is sensible. I need to get on that plane.
We are so proud of your decisions – they are hard to make – I know. But we are becoming desperate to be allowed on the plane to bring us home. And you and your cabinet are the ones who can arrange this for us. You are the ones who decide if I can get on that plane. You can bring the mothers who are grandmothers home.
I am a sixth generation New Zealander and the keeper of the stories for my generation. My job is to teach the young ones the old stories.
Please help me to teach my grandchildren how to bake Rowena bread and make sausage rolls. To understand Sally Lunns. To tell them about the time I saw Dame Whina in a march and how Princess Margaret came to our school when I was in intermediate. How my father’s father, who fought in the trenches in World War One, was a builder contracted to help rebuild Napier after the 1931 earthquake. How he hated the old front gate, at the big beautiful beach house he bought in Westshore, so he drove his truck right through it, to the screaming delight of my father still in his short pants sitting next to him in the truck. How six years later my father’s father was called up for World War Two. How my mother’s father always jingled the coins in his woolen farmers trouser pocket, subconsciously checking they were still there, because he lost everything in the depression then clawed it all back by the 50’s but always held at the ready to lose it all again. That he was the one who taught us never to visit ‘with one arm as long as the other’. Even if it was an armload of firewood he always brought something.
How we would go to sleep in my grandmothers house in Kumara on the West Coast listening to the ring and whine of the gold dredge in the river – every window open to the night air.
How my great-great aunts house ( they were elderly triplets) on the East Coast, washed into the sea during a storm.
How my great grandmother who always wore black, would visit her children and grandchildren and clean their front steps every day.
How my great, great, great, grandfather came from a tiny town in Italy that only had 40 people in it.
You see, all of these are bedtime stories. And all us grandmothers have these stories to share. These are not for well lit whatsapp video calls or texts. I need to sit cross legged on the ends of my grandchildrens beds at bedtime and tell them about their old people. Tell them their family stories. We grannies need to come home. Please. I need your help. We need your help. All us New Zealand mothers and grandmothers need your help to come back to New Zealand. Soon.
And we have done everything right. We don’t go out. We don’t gather in large groups. We don’t shop or enjoy a glass of wine with friends. We don’t go to concerts or plays. We have not collected anything we cannot fit in our two suitcases. We are vaccinated and boosted. We wear our masks always and walk backwards as people talk to us, keeping our distance. While we are waiting for the all clear we are working and saving. We have pared ourselves right to the bone so we can move home the moment you call us. So we can move fast when we hear the gates have opened. We are the make-do, stop your whining, buck up, glass half full generation. Mothers and Grannies are fast and strong. We are resilient.
But we have been out here beyond the pale long enough. We feel banished and shut out and called unclean. We are being worn down by this waiting, this endless anticipation- soon, soon – it must be soon our daughters whisper to us on the phone – always the phone.
Because we are the fantails hurling ourselves again and again against the glass and our heads hurt and our wings are getting tattered and our children are becoming afraid that the window won’t open in time.
Please find a way to bring the mothers home. The grandmothers. The ones who were out in the world working when the shutters came down. I am afraid that you have forgotten us. That we have become collateral damage.
My children and I have my self isolation all planned. I believe 14 days is a good period to be sure I don’t bring anything nasty into the homes of my families. No mother would risk that. No grandma would. I have the isolation money saved and put aside. A plan in place ready to go.
Please help bring the grannies home. Please help us mothers come home. I know this is no small ask. But, please.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Thank you so much.
Dear Readers, if you got this far – please share on your SM platforms. I would love to reach as many of the mums and grandmothers as I can. I am sure I am not alone! Our PM will want to know how many of us there are.