When granddaughter Eleanor, fourth eldest of the Tremendous Ten grandchildren, returned to University last week she had a surprise awaiting her. There in the letter box was a letter from me. Not that a letter in itself
was unusual as I write every week to the grandkids away from home - but this letter was dated early March and was sent before the world turned crazy and Coronavirus stalked the land.
It was strange, Eleanor reported, to read my cheerful assertions that All Would Surely Be Well. How was I to know that something unprecedented (what a much overused word that is) was about to befall us? I had to look back through my
copies of correspondence to find out what I was writing about in what was to be the last of the Normal Times, had I but known it.
Way back then, we were
celebrating the Youngest of the Darling Daughters special birthday ( as in, one with an 0 at the end), the first of several events planned to mark the occasion. I was hoping that nothing would prevent my short respite break at her house the following weekend,
including a theatre trip to see grandson Jack playing Freddie in a local production of My Fair Lady.
I was, I told Eleanor in my epistle, reassuring members
of the Singing for Pleasure choir that we would “carry on meeting until and unless we are told to stop” but reckoned our numbers might drop a little in the coming weeks if people felt unsure about attending. I wrote about the goings on at that
week’s meeting of the Sporting Memories group where I had regaled the members with the tale of how I had made a mistake putting an on-line bet to win on a horse for Mr B when he wanted an each way bet. I had done the only thing I could think of to remedy
matters by placing another bet, this time each way, on the same horse. Fortunately all ended well when the horse romped home the winner, leaving us £40 better off than before.
I was still sorting out boxes as part of the on-going Clearing the Loft Project and hoping Eleanor’s mother would enjoy looking through all the mementoes in the treasure chests I had filled with her possessions. I was also excited
about Eleanor’s sister, Katie, moving into her first house with her boyfriend and looking forward to visiting them once they had settled in.
Hardly any of
this turned out as expected. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters had to cancel lots of her planned birthday celebrations and, though I did get to enjoy my little break at hers (a week later and it would have been impossible), the production of My Fair Lady
was pulled on first night at the very last minute so sadly I never got to see Jack pining after Eliza and singing “On the Street Where You Live.” Katie and her Fella just managed to move into their new home before house moves were put on hold -
but the chances of a visit are remote. I have, however, had a virtual tour of their new abode and they are coming to visit us this week when I will be presenting them with a lily plant from our garden. I may not be able to visit but my lily - a direct descendant
of the flowers which decorated the church at our wedding over fifty years ago - will take my place. Lily will be a rather more silent visitor than I would have been but at least she will be there.
We never did meet again as a choir. We never gathered together with our Sporting Memories gang again after that memorable meeting - I have a distinct memory of one of the carers from a local rest home accompanying one of our
older members, telling us of her fears for the spread of the virus in care homes. I wish I’d taken her concerns more seriously.
Maybe I need to be approaching
this from a different perspective. Had I still be writing every week to Eleanor I would surely have been emphasising the plus side of Lockdown. For a starter, I had so much more time on my hands to complete the Clearing the Loft Project. The choir still sings
virtually on Zoom every Friday morning and the lovely Rhona sends us the weekly quiz which we would have puzzled over at Sporting Memories. Unable to visit the shops in those early shielding months, I started making my own greetings cards - 80 at the last
count - which seem to be going down rather well with the recipients. I have sorted all the boxes of family photographs, some daring back to the 1920s. No, I didn’t appear in any of them, you cheeky thing!
We can’t go back to early March when I wrote that last letter, without a clue as to what was to come.
glad I didn’t know what was heading our way...