When my sweet Grandad was alive he had a habit of just turning up on the door-step of one or other of his three children – my Dad was the youngest. Grandad always turned up carrying a small brown case
in which he had packed his pyjamas, toothbrush, slippers and a change of clothing. Nothing more, nothing less. Grandad believed in minimalism long before the word was even invented...
My cousin Alan tells the story of his mother’s constant dread of the knock on the door and Grandad on the doorstep with the case which announced, louder than any words: “I’m here to stay!” Not because he wasn’t
the most obliging and least troublesome of house guests but because it was impossible to tell just how long he might stay.
I was thinking of Grandad and his small
brown case today while I was packing my own bag (no, it’s actually a rather smart Radley bag which the Son And Only bought me for my birthday last year) and preparing to turn up, like Grandad and / or a bad penny, on the doorstep of the house belonging
to the Middle of the Darling Daughters and her fella.
She does know I’m coming, which is one point in my favour. And she does know how long I am staying
as I really can’t leave Mr B alone for too long. He would only go and re-organise all the cupboards, drawers and shelves which I have carefully tidied over the last seven months. Before you could say “abracadabra” everything would be
back as it was when he was in sole charge of the house and I was a working gal.
One of the very best parts of being retired is being able to up sticks any time
I like and sally forth to visit any one of my foursome who is prepared to offer me house room for a little while. Most of them have a “toleration level” of which I am aware. There’s only so much of me anyone can put up with. That, of
course, is not counting Mr B who is stuck with me but I don’t have any sympathy for his plight. He should have thought of the implications before he married me all those years ago. I think the grand-children could possibly put up with
me for longer than their parents on account of my famed capacity to play endless games, watch kids DVDs, make a fool of myself on the Wii and / or SingStar, and help with homework (provided it is not too difficult.)
Oh, we are going to have a lovely time, the Middle of the Darling Daughters and I! With just six weeks to go until her Little Champ is due to make his appearance on the World Stage, she is engaged in some serious nesting.
And, believe me, I am just the person to help. I am happy to walk round any number of baby shops. I am prepared to coo over every purchase. I will marvel at the amazing goodies you can buy for babies these days. And I will try not to tell her too many
stories of What Life was Like When She Was Young. Unless those stories show me in a good light, you understand, like the way I hand-knitted in 2 ply wool using size 14 needles, every one of the delicate tie-vests she and her siblings wore as babies.
I can’t wait to see the newly decorated nursery and to practise folding up the new pram (I will doubtless need a Master Class in pram-folding.) I’m looking
forward to lots of chats plus lots of shopping, punctuated (as are all the best shopping expeditions) by stops for coffee and for lunch and for coffee and for afternoon tea and for coffee....
A short time ago, I met up with my brother who had promised to bring me any old letters or documents in his possession which I might find useful for my family history research. He turned up carrying – Grandad’s small
brown case. It was full of the kind of papers which probably appear worthless to anyone but a family historian.
Sadly, there were no pyjamas, no toothbrush, no
slippers. But it was worth it for the memory...