Today via Facebook, I got the news of the birth of a granddaughter to one of my cousins, who lives in Tasmania. This was her second grandchild, but her first granddaughter – and since, like me, she only gave birth to sons, a particular joy. The new baby is the child of her son and his girlfriend, who is of Australian Aboriginal descent. Welcome into the world Nakeisha Maree!
That made me think about my own grandmother, and to wonder how she would have reacted to the births of her great, great grandchildren, who come from such varied national and racial inheritances.
She was born in 1892, and had many of the attitudes typical of a person born at that time. Nowadays, she would be regarded as racist. Soon after we moved to the London suburbs, she came to visit us, and I can remember being acutely embarrassed as she remarked loudly as we travelled on the Underground, ‘There are lots of blacks up here”. She wasn’t very keen on Germans (her father’s fishing smack was probably blown up by a German mine off the Kent coast in 1914 and he and his entire crew were lost and two of her brothers were injured and gassed during that war). She was nominally C of E and didn’t much like Roman Catholics (though she did attend her daughter’s wedding in an RC church).
Of her great grandchildren, one is part Australian Aboriginal, one is part Punjabi Sikh, one was born in Germany of a German father and English mother, one has Lebanese grandparents, three were born in Australia, one has been baptised Catholic and two have dual Canadian and British citizenship.
What would she have thought of her ‘rainbow’ great-grandchildren? I hope she would have approved!