My dear friend Sue has just become a grandmother for the very first time. I am SO very pleased for her.
Arriving to pick me up for a visit to her health club for Coffee
and a Chat yesterday, she simply couldn't wait in the car outside for me - as I opened my front door, she was literally dancing along the garden path, her Big News spilling out by way of greeting.
say that it isn't exactly an exclusive club, there being lots of grandmothers around. But that, you see, is to miss the whole point which is that every grandmother is totally unique. As far as her grandchildren are concerned anyway.
I can remember how I heard of the births of each and every one of my Truly Tremendous Ten grandchildren. Some arrived early, some late, one arrived by prior appointment. Two should have arrived by prior appointment but decided to be
contrary and arrived early. I was in a hospital waiting room for two births, in bed for one, at work for four and in a car heading for the hospital for three. All I can say is that I was there just as soon as I could be. Sue's granddaughter was born in Cyprus
so she and the new Grandad are frantically trying to book flights out there to see the little one as soon as possible. There's an indefinable something about a newborn. It only lasts such a short time and it's not to be missed.
One of the most important decisions a grandmother has to take concerns the name by which she will be known. Some grandmothers, it has to be said, hold very firm views on this. My dear Mum was known as Nanna by some of her grandchildren and Grandma by
others and as she grew older, she struggled to remember who called her what. In her later years I used to buy and post birthday cards for her - but she always wrote them herself: "With best love from your loving Nanna or Grandma" she would write. Better safe
Five of my grandchildren call me Nanna, four call me Nanni, one - my eldest grandson - called me Nanny from the moment he could speak. I remember one friend, on becoming a grandmother, shuddering
at the thought of being called Nanny. "How dreadful!" she tutted. I kept quiet - but hugged inside me the sweet joy of a tiny two year old introducing me to his friends: "This is Nanny," he explained matter of factly. "Hello, Nanny!" his friends all responded
In more recent years I have become a kind of adopted grandmother to the young members of the Limelight Theatre Group of which grandchildren Jack and Hazel were founder members. They call me "Nanna
Baldwin" despite the indisputable fact that my surname isn't Baldwin. Similarly the Darling Daughter in Law tells me I am an honorary Welsh Nanna, despite the fact that I was born and bred in England. You could say that I'm an Extremely Adaptable Grandmother.
Adaptability is a Splendid Trait in a grandmother especially when the age-range of your grandchildren stretches from nineteen months to nineteen years. It takes considerable skill, you know, to switch your conversation
from the might of dinosaurs to the joys of clubbing, while taking in a bit of PokemonGo along the way. There is, too, a balance to be struck between trying to be too trendy - and sounding like something out of the Dark Ages. I rather think I may teeter on
the tightrope of acceptable grandmotherly behaviour from time to time - but my grandchildren are far too tolerant of me to point this out.
When Sue first heard she was going to be a grandmother, she asked
my advice on how to handle such immense responsibility. I said all I ever wanted was for my grandchildren to know me - and to know that I loved them. I could, on reflection, have put it far more simply by borrowing the words of The Beatles:
"All you need is love."