Every now and then my grandpa calls me when it’s night time, his voice is warm and slow with scotch and I’m sleepy from a cone or two. After I say hello he settles into a rhythm of broken stories, it’s like listening to a radio skipping between decades. He tells me about traffic in Jakarta and Queensland’s tropical weather patterns. He described once what a monkey tastes like and told me that his first cigarette was age seven accompanied by his first pint of beer. He blends wars together and laughs about family members who turned to ashes long ago. He tells me about the old country and my Nanna’s moody beauty; about my mum as a little girl crying herself to sleep on the cold steps of an Irish boarding school, punished for not eating her peas.
As he speaks I trim my plants and flick through the faces of my family members until they blur and fade, unrecognisable. I hold on to fragments of my mother and grandmother and later, try to patch them together so I can feel once again some warmth from the women who bore me. I try to hold his stories close and I always wonder when I say goodbye, if we will have one of these conversations again. When I hang up the silence hangs so heavy on me I brush tears away.