We have had the same conversation many times before over the last twenty years.
Yesterday we were at it again, remembering
the day when both Mr B and I were unusually unavailable at the worst possible time. Mr B was on a golf course where, obedient to club rules, he had left his mobile phone back in the clubhouse. I was at work, in meetings all morning, with my phone on Voice
Mail. What we didn’t know was that the Eldest of the Darling Daughters was pretty sure that her second baby (gender as yet unknown) was on the way three weeks early and our presence was urgently required to look after her first-born. We have often remarked
that none of us was “ready for Ellie.”
In my defence, I was all prepared to make myself available from the following week. I would have informed everybody
who might need to know that, if and when The Call came, I was to be immediately contacted wherever I might be and whoever I might be with. Moreover, on receiving The Call I would be leaving tout-de-suite as they say in French (or toot sweet, if you prefer.)
As it happens, those carefully laid plans would prove to be just too late.
My son-in-law was desperately trying to phone me; my phone consistently reverted to
my Voice Mail message, exhorting him kindly to leave a message. He tried to telephone Mr B both at home (“Please leave a message after the tone...”) and on his mobile - which rang and rang impotently inside his club locker, along with his
shoes, coat and change of shirt. Eventually he reached me by phoning reception at my office - “I’ll just put you through..” said the receptionist. She must have wondered what was up when he responded with a strangled “Nooooo!”
At precisely 3.30 p.m. yesterday, we were celebrating the exact hour of Eleanor’s birth by recalling that hair-raising episode. How long ago it seemed, sitting out
there in the sunny back garden, quaffing Prosecco and eating the delicious birthday cake baked by the Birthday Girl’s proud mamma. Eleanor, it is safe to say, had little to add to the story despite indubitably having the Starring Role just by being born.
The Eldest of the Darling Daughters reminds us of the entry made by the midwife in Eleanor’s birth record book which reads: “Baby was washed and dressed and given to her big sister to hold.” I do remember, so well, the care the midwife took
to involve that “big sister” in those important first ministrations.
What we didn’t know then, nor for many years afterwards, was that
on the very same day, in the very same hospital, Eleanor’s boyfriend was born. Might their mothers even have been in beds next to each other? We will never know...
As a family, we have celebrated several birthdays during Lockdown - regular readers may remember reading about my “shivering in the back garden” birthday, followed a month later by Hazel Bagel’s 21st. Lots of plans hatched in the early
months of 2020 had to be shelved. It has been a mark of our determination not to allow circumstances to spoil a loved one’s special day that we have always managed - somehow - to celebrate in style.
Fortunately yesterday the weather was on our side so there was no shivering in our back garden which I had decorated in true birthday garden party fashion. Her Maj may have been forced to cancel her annual Buckingham Palace
garden parties but I was determined ours would go ahead. Okay, we didn’t have a marquee, or brass bands playing and there wasn’t a Royal (even a minor one) in sight - but we did have banners and balloons, a flower-decked table - and two baby
sea-gulls on a neighbouring roof-top keeping up a regular hullabaloo. As afternoons go it was like Mary Poppins, Practically Perfect In Every Way.
A special celebration
for a Very Special Granddaughter.