Diary of A Modern Gran | Father’s Day

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

To Grandad,
Happy Father’s Day!

I had to look twice at this wording on the card in the supermarket to make sure I hadn’t got it wrong. But I hadn’t. I wasn’t sure whether to be sceptical or not. Are card companies jumping on the bandwagon by trying to aim at two different relationships?

“Maybe they’re aiming at the older age group,” suggests my husband. “You know, dads who are mistaken for being grandads!”

Very funny.

Actually, maybe a grandparent card on Father’s Day has its place. Recently, we seem to have acquired a Grandparents’ Day in our calendar. Well I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t really caught on in our family. So why not jump on the Father’s Day bandwagon?

In fact every day is Grandparents Day because I feel so lucky to have them.

Yet I find myself reaching out for the card and buying it.

I happen to be in a newsagent which is far from home. Last week, I made an emergency dash to my father’s (six hours away) as he was taken into hospital. He was discharged after two days and I’ve been helping out. So after I unload the shopping at his place, I forge the grandchildren’s signatories on the said grandparents’ card.

Now I don’t want you to think I’m a professional forger! But it brought a smile to my 98-year-old dad’s face.

Perhaps I should add here that when I hastily packed my suitcase for this emergency trip, I did remember to leave a Father’s Day card for my husband. His “baby” is our elderly (but lively) labspringer.

It just goes to show that Father’s Day comes in all shapes and sizes.

But of course it goes without saying that days like this are painfully difficult for families without dads. One of my granny friends, whose son-in-law passed away a few years ago, always takes her grandchildren out for the day. “We might have a picnic or go to a museum or – like this year – go on a steam train ride. We don’t avoid the subject and one of us will say something like, ‘Dad would have loved this’. But it also provides a distraction.”

I find this very touching. Don’t you?

Royal Games

I was also rather moved by an article in one of the Sunday papers about Camilla playing Wordle with her grandchildren. My favourite game with Rose and George is Snakes and Ladders. There’s something about the thrill of climbing the ladder –  and then sliding down the snake – that’s timeless.

Ask Agony Gran

“I’m a stepgran and can’t help feeling envious of my husband who has two grandchildren. We’ve been married for longer than he was married to his first wife. Yet his children have never warmed to me. When the first grandchild was born, my husband was immediately known as Grandad. But I am known by my first name (this seemed to be a foregone decision on their part). I would have liked to have been called Granny. Any advice?” Name withheld

Jane says:

“There are lots of other grandparents in your situation. Some manage to make it work. Others struggle. It might help to see the other side. Perhaps your husband’s children don’t want to upset their mother by calling you Granny. It sounds as though you haven’t had an easy relationship but in situations like this, it can be easy for each side to blame the other. Sometimes the only answer is to keep chipping away at building goodwill without focussing on jealousy or hurt. This might require a certain amount of ‘holding your tongue’.  Try to engage with the grandchildren by playing with them and doing ‘grandparent things’.  Don’t allow this to drive a wedge between you and your husband. No one wins this way. Good luck.”

The Funny Things They Do and Say

Thanks to Jill from Eastbourne for this.

“My granddaughter is ten. When I picked her up from school the day, she was talking to a boy from her class. She told me she was going to marry him when she grew up. Maybe she will! I met my husband when we were at primary school and we’ve been married for 41 years!”

Children’s Book Of The Week

The Case of the Vanishing Granny book cover

The Case of the Vanishing Granny by Alexander McCall Smith (£6.99, Barrington Stoke).

Tom’s granny goes missing. When the circus comes to town, he enlists the help of three of its stars to find her.

With their astonishing circus skills, can the Shortbread circus stars crack the clues and find Tom’s granny?

A brilliant adventure, brimming with wit, wisdom and larger than life characters.

Grandparent of the Week, Kathy

Two of Kathy's grandchildren“I became a grandparent at the age of 62. My grandchildren are 10, 6 and almost 2. My first grandson was born in Madrid and I was able to meet him at the age of 4 weeks. I made several visits to Spain over the next 12 months until the family moved back to the UK. My second grandson was born in 2016, fairly close to me so access was unlimited. These were joyful years.

“Life is never dull in the household and I have had great adventures with the boys over the years. Sadly in 2021, the family moved back to Spain so my trips have resumed. We are able to ‘Facetime’ once a week but the boys are so boisterous that catching a glimpse of them still or the right way up is hard!!The last call resulted in the phone camera being angled up someone’s nose!

“The oldest grandson is very technical and literal-minded and catches me out if I think laterally to solve a problem. On a protracted bus trip with him at the age of 5, I asked him to describe his ideal car. When I asked him if he would take me for a drive in it when he was 18 he indignantly replied ‘Granny when I am 18 you will be dead’ much to the amusement of the other passengers!!

Kathy's incredible sculpture

One of Kathy’s incredible sculptures

“The youngest is full of imagination and for the first 5 years lived in alternative universe. He is passionate about wild animals. His announced at the age of 4 that his real father was a Viking and his real mother was a peregrine falcon and his real granny was a black widow spider. We often visited the local falconry centre when he lived nearby. I bought him a ‘toy’ falcon which he named ‘sonic’ and it is still a favourite! Both boys adore books and are read to every night. I relish the opportunity to read to them when I am there and regularly send books through the post.

“Meanwhile in 2020 my granddaughter was born in London and now lives in Sheffield so I visit regularly. She calls me ‘Ganny’. We visited a Farm Park near Matlock recently and her delight at seeing the animals was a joy. I cuddle her as much as I can – making up for the infrequent cuddles with the boys. She loves books and had brought one with her which I read to her in the café.

“The boys know I am an artist and are always fascinated to visit my studio. We had regular drawing and making sessions together when they lived nearby.

“The best thing about being a grandparent is sharing the joys of childhood from a position of advantage. I feel privileged to be a grandparent – and cherish every moment I spend with them. My advice would be to invest as much time and energy as you can in that relationship – the rewards are immeasurable.’

Out This Week! We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry

Looking for a summer read? My latest family drama, We All Have Our Secrets, is set by the sea. Two women are staying at a rambling house in Cornwall, owned by an old man. Each has a secret.

I am giving away free bookmarks to celebrate my new novel (published by Penguin on June 23). If you would like a bookmark, please email moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk

You can buy my novel from bookshops, supermarkets and online at https://linktr.ee/janecorry.

Janes new book and QR code to order