“I’m still testing positive!” cries my daughter down the phone. “The line is really thick!”
Oh dear. If you’re a regular reader, you will know that she succumbed to the virus over a week ago. We’d been dreading this because she has low immunity due to her arthritic treatment.
Since, she’s been isolated in her room as much as possible and her husband has been leaving food at the door. Her friends have been kindly dropping off flowers and chocolates and magazines on the doorstep but of course they can’t see her either.
I’ve been juggling childcare with my son-in-law but all I want to do is put my arms around my little girl. Children are always children in our eyes, aren’t they? No matter how old they are.
Instead, I have to content myself with calling up from the front door through her window. I’ve also tried to cut back on phone calls because I don’t want to wake her.
Meanwhile, I’ve taken time off my writing to look after little George when he’s not at pre-school. In fact, we have a lovely time together. On Monday, we had a little walk by the sea and then popped into the toyshop to buy a small building set. George loves building things!
When we get back to our place, my husband’s eyes light up. “Can I help you make that?”
Honestly. I’m sure my husband is really a little boy!
Actually, it’s just as well he’s around…
The building set says it’s suitable for “six years up” on the packet. My husband is well past the 65-year-old water mark. And he struggled to do it!
Still, the great thing is that it kept him quiet for an hour while George and I played pick up sticks in another room.
“Finished!” calls out my husband eventually.
“Wow!” says George. “Thank you!”
It almost – but not quite – takes my mind off my daughter.
She’s missing her children and husband so much that it’s heart-breaking. Naturally she’s worried that they’ll be confused about what is happening. But the virus has been with us for so long now that Rose and George seem to take it in their stride. Of course they miss her too but it almost seems like a fact of life for them since so many of their friends’ parents have been isolating too.
Meanwhile, we’re carrying on making get well cards. At this rate, my daughter is going to have an album full! I’ve also had some lovely reassuring texts from my own friends – thank you!
Then my editorial notes come in for next year’s novel. This is the stage where my editor makes suggestions and I do some re-writing. I can’t do it during the day because I want to help out with my grandchildren. So I reverse my writing habits and start writing in the evening instead. It’s what I did when my own children were small and in fact, it works out quite well. It also gives my husband space to play his unlistenable music downstairs without me complaining!
Then at last comes the day we’ve been waiting for
“I’m negative!” sings my daughter.
That’s wonderful! “You’ll be able to see Mummy when we get home,” I tell George and Rose when I collect them from school.
“Can we hold her hand again?” asks George.
“Yes,” I say.
“Can we actually cuddle her?” asks Rose.
I have a huge lump in my throat as we drive home.
The children can’t wait to run up to the front door. It’s already open. My daughter is there and they run into her arms. She sinks to the ground and the three of them stay there, hugging each other. Then my son-in-law (who’s been absolutely amazing as always) joins them.
I blow my daughter a kiss and creep away.
There are times when a granny needs to know her place.
The Things They Say
“Why don’t you have a booster car seat like me, Grandad?”
“Because I don’t need one.”
“Never mind. When I’m older, I’ll save up and buy one for you.”
Thanks to Dave from Dorset who sent us this one. If your grandchildren have said something funny, do share it with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“My daughter-in-law has decided she wants a divorce,” writes Barbara from Yorkshire. “She says that the virus has made her realise she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with my son. We’re all upset. My grandchildren are in their early teens and the plan is that they are going to spend their time between their parents. I’m worried that this is going to ruin their lives. I’m also concerned in case my daughter-in-law might stop me seeing them so much.”
“Oh Barbara. I’m sorry to hear this. Divorce is a very hard thing to go through. I’ve had personal experience of this, both with my own parents and my first marriage. Divorce doesn’t have to ‘ruin’ someone’s life. But it will change it. I remember my own grandmother telling me that I had to ‘choose which side I wanted to be on’.
“Nowadays, thankfully, we are more aware that this doesn’t have to be the case. You say you’re concerned that your daughter-in-law will try to stop seeing your grandchildren so much. It sounds like you don’t have an easy relationship with her. Do you feel able to tell her that you understand this must be hard for her as well? Grandparents can be a safe ‘harbour’ for children when their parents are breaking up. Offer to help out wherever you can. Can you go out on some ‘fun’ trips? When I was a single mother, my 13-year-old son and I used to go bowling on Saturdays. Try not to criticise either of the parents in front of your grandchildren. Take each day at a time. You will all get there, one day.”
To Jab Or Not To Jab?
Five to 11-year-olds could soon be offered ‘non-urgent Covid vaccinations’ according to some recent news reports.
What do you think about this? Do email us at email@example.com.
Grandparent of the Week – Denise from Devon
Denise has nine grandchildren ranging from ten to eighteen. Four of them live in the United States.
“My son is married to an American. They have two girls of 18 and 16 and two boys of 14 and 11. My son Facetimes me several times a week and sometimes one or more of the children are around. So they ‘pop in’ and say ‘Hi Gran’. I find out what they’re doing that way!
“They speak in an American accent. We have jokes about the different names we have for things like vest and pants which we think of as underwear but for them is waistcoat and trousers!
“When I’m there, it’s for a concentrated period of time so it’s a different kind of relationship from my other grandchildren in the UK. The weather can be very cold if the visit is at Thanksgiving or Christmas so we play a lot of board games every day!
“My older daughter has two boys of 14 and 12 and the younger has twins (a boy and girl) aged 12 and a girl of 10. They live about three hours away although this hasn’t always been the case as my husband and I and our older daughter used to live in Scotland and our younger daughter in London. Before the children were at school, I used to spend a lot of time with them, especially the twins. I also used to help my older daughter with childcare when she and her husband had a clash of work days.
“Now they are at school, we see each other in the holidays. I’ve always read a lot with them and still do so with the ten-year old. She’ll read a chapter and then I’ll read one! They all love coming down to visit me by the sea and are always happy to spend time on the beach, exploring rockpools. They have wet suits so they’ll go on swimming all year even if it’s cold! We also do a lot of cooking together. I try to treat them as individuals and encourage each of their particular skills whether it’s knitting or playing table tennis (I have a table in the garage). The challenge is always to beat Gran.
“They have different traditions when they come and stay. For one family, it’s hide and seek in the garden in the dark. No stay is complete without it! They also love watching Tom and Jerry cartoons on my old video machine. But cooking favourite foods (especially cream teas) are always part of visits to Devon.
“One of the best things about being a grandmother is having more patience than I did as a parent. All my grandchildren are being brought up in Christian homes and it is a privilege to be able to pray for them every day.
“I was fortunate to be able to retire a year early to enable me to be an active and involved grandmother.”
Jane’s New Book – Out June 23, 2022
Jane Corry is a Sunday Times best-selling author. Her new book is about a woman who goes home to live with her father – but is confronted by a stranger!
You can pre-order “WE ALL HAVE OUR SECRETS” now on linktr.ee/janecorry or place an order at your local bookshop.