I can’t believe it. The big day, that we’ve all been waiting for, has arrived. We can finally meet up with our grandchildren and other loved ones under one roof instead of playing in a drizzly garden or park or attempting a distance chat/walk at 2 metres.
And what do I do? I wake up with a sore throat and a low-grade headache.
I’d already arranged to look after little Rose and George while my daughter and her husband had a little walk along the seafront. But I don’t like to risk it.
“I agree,” she says. The disappointment is all too clear in her voice.
I can’t bear it…
I feel the same. I’ve missed that one-to-one time with Rose and George so much. To think how I had taken those granny days for granted before the virus arrived.
“Are you coming to our house now?” chirps Rose while I’m chatting to her mummy on the phone.
“Not yet,” says my daughter.
She frowns. “But I want to see her and Grandad.”
“Gan Gan’s throat is a bit sore,” says my daughter.
“Let’s give her one of our ice lollies,” suggests Rose brightly. “That will make her feel better.”
My heart goes out to my kind little granddaughter.
Actually, I’m getting a bit worried. What if I do have the virus? I have to say that food doesn’t taste quite the same either but maybe that’s my throat. Is it really a virus or could it be because I did a lot of talking on the phone the day before?
I don’t know about you but I’m not that worried about my own health. I’m more concerned in case I pass something on to my little ones – and, of course, anyone else.
Whoops. That’s reminded me. I also have a hairdressers appointment this afternoon. It’s only fair to call her.
We both agree that even though I’m not actually ill, it’s best to cancel. Selfishly, I feel terribly disappointed. But again I know it’s the right thing.
I’d also promised to collect my daughter from her first evening get together with the girls. One of the things I’m really impressed by, as a granny, is that the generation of couples below us is much better at giving each other time off. My son-in-law is very good at encouraging his wife to meet up with chums. And she does the same with him.
So her evening with friends was really important. She’d also hoped to have a glass of bubbly. My daughter had asked if we could pick her up that evening to drive her home. Of course! It will be wonderful to do something normal.
But now, with my slightly-sore throat and low-grade headache, we can’t do that either. My husband offers to be chauffeur instead. But what if I’ve passed something on to him? It would be so much easier if I knew if I had the virus or whether it’s just one of those mild bugs that in the old days, we’d brush aside as a nuisance and get on with ordinary life.
“Perhaps you should have a test, Mum,” suggests my daughter.
It seems a rather dramatic thing to do considering I don’t even have a temperature. Then again I do have two other possible symptoms. So I go online and type in “local corona virus testing centre” feeling rather stupid.
In fact, I find it much simpler than I’d realised to book a test. I had to choose between three locations and chose the nearest, 40 minutes away. To my surprise, we were given an appointment that very afternoon.
The test centre was in a car park. My husband and I drive through various “stations” where lines of people in white costumes and masks hold up signs telling us where to go and to put on our masks. Then we have to wind down our windows and a very nice young girl about my daughter’s age takes a swab. My husband is done too.
It’s not nearly as frightening as I thought.
The results come in the next day…
My husband’s arrive first by text. It’s negative. Why isn’t mine here? Are they re-doing it? What if I’ve got it? I’m already working out where I should self-isolate in the house. But do you know what? My main fear was not seeing the grandchildren for two weeks as well as the worry that I might have passed something on to them during the week.
We’d had a lovely week before all this happened, playing in the garden and having picnics in the park at two-meter distance. We’d also run in and out of the sea, skirting the white fringes of the waves and looking for shells. Such fun!
Supposing I’d passed it into them without realising? My daughter has low immunity. I’d never forgive myself.
An hour later, there’s a notification bleep from my phone. At first, I can’t take it in. The type swims in front of my eyes. Then I take it in. Plonk. I’m negative too. What a relief!
I ring my daughter.
“That’s good,” she says. “But do you still have your sore throat this morning?”
“Yes,” I say. “I think I’d better stay away from you all today until it’s better.”
She agrees. It seems so hard but I don’t want to pass anything to anyone. Even if it is only a sore throat.
Meanwhile, we have all these other dates planned this week. I was meant to be looking after the children for two afternoons this week while my daughter looks round respective nurseries for my grandson. That’s provided everything will still be open in September…
“Chin up and keep sucking the lozenges,” says my husband.
Meanwhile – great news!
My grown up eldest son has come back from Spain after being there for some years. He was going to come back earlier but couldn’t leave during lockdown. He’s isolating in London at his dad’s. Then he’ll come down to us.
I can’t wait!
But like many families, we’re all slightly cautious about combining households after so many months apart. I know that you feel the same judging from your lovely emails.
“My daughter and her boyfriend want to come and stay,” says one reader. “But they’ve been socialising with friends in a big city and we’re worried they might pass something on to us. Then we in turn might pass it in to our other daughter’s children.”
There are no easy answers. As a grandmother, I’m also aware that our grown-up children who don’t have children themselves, still need us. We don’t want them to feel excluded. They need as much love and care too, no matter how old they are!
Another grandparent wrote to say that he’d booked a week away in Scotland for his two children and their children. But one of the wives is insisting on adhering to the 1 metre rule. “I just don’t see how that’s going to work,” he says. “It’s not as though the grandchildren have a tape measure. How are they to understand that we’ve suddenly gone from 2 metres to 1? And how is this going to work when we are sitting round the table for family meals or going out on day trips together? There are bound to be times when they bump into each other or us.”
The answer is that there are no easy answers! Perhaps we should do what a very wise great grandmother friend of mine suggests. “Go with what makes you feel comfortable even if it does seem over-cautious to others. And stick to the official guidelines.”
Meanwhile, I’m busy making plans ahead. When my eldest comes down, he and I are going to drive 300 miles to see my 96-year-old father. I normally visit him once a month by train but I don’t feel ready to get on one yet. Mind you, I heard from a friend who made a trip to London last week that the carriages were very empty and seemed extremely safe.
“Oh,” says my father, rubbing his dry eyes at the other end of the iPad. “I don’t know about that. It’s all a bit soon, isn’t it? Let’s just see, shall we?”
I’m beginning to wonder if he and my stepmother will ever agree to see anyone else again. But I’m jumping ahead of myself here. We all need time.
Then I have an idea.
Half an hour later, my phone goes. It’s my daughter.
“We got through,” she says.
This is quite a breakthrough as my father only likes to be rung at certain times of the day. His concentration also wavers which is understandable at his age.
“He watched the children playing dressing up,” adds my daughter. “He said it reminded him of you and your sister when you were little. In fact, it brought a smile to his face.”
It brought a smile to mine too. I might be just round the corner from my little brood which makes it all the harder not to see them until I’m better. But it won’t be long until we are together. And my father might be 300 miles away but at least, today, he saw and talked to them.
We are making progress.
“Gan Gan,” asks my little Rose popping up on the screen. “Is the world better now?”
“I think we might be getting there,” I say. And then we blow each other a kiss.
Jane’s new book… out now!
Hope you don’t mind me mentioning this but my new Penguin thriller launched at the end of May! It’s called I MADE A MISTAKE and is about Poppy, a mother of teenagers and her live-in mother-in-law Betty who is a young 70 year old. The two of them are like mother and daughter. But each has their love secrets. Betty’s go back to the 1960s. It’s on sale at supermarkets, bookshops and online. Here’s the link.