It is fair to say that my dear Dad was a man of action, rather than an avid reader. I believe (though it may be family folklore) that he only ever read one book in his adult life - 10, Rillington Place, the story of serial
killer John Christie. It was such a good book, he apparently commented, that he never needed to read another. My mum, by contrast, loved her books - and, especially, poetry.
Nevertheless, my Dad did have a favourite poem and on my birthday a few days ago I was thinking about it. It’s called “Come” and it’s very short:
“Come in the evening, come in the morning.
Come when expected, or come without warning.
Only - come!”
It was the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her fella, Dunk’em Dave, who joined Mr B and me on Sunday to celebrate my birthday. Incidentally, given we haven’t been able to enjoy our usual Seaside Days for
so long, Dave hasn’t had too many opportunities to live up to his nickname. I will, however, persevere in using it, in happy anticipation of summer, sun, sea and much splashing in the shallows which surely lie ahead.
They turned up a little after 12.30 which (the pedants among you are probably already pointing out) is neither the evening or the morning but the most important thing is that they came, as expected.
Yes, we hugged. Well, it’s allowed now, isn’t it.
Five minutes after their arrival, another knock on the door. “Who’s that?”
demanded Mr B who believes I am capable of all things, including seeing through solid wood front doors. I opened the door...
There on the door-step was Hazel Bagel
- second oldest granddaughter - and The Boyfriend. Definitely unexpected, most definitely “without warning.” Tears were shed.
Not only had our granddaughter
turned up without warning, she had also engaged in what can only be described as Shameless Subterfuge. Just the day before she had texted to say she was “gutted” she couldn’t be with me on my birthday, accompanying this sweet message with
four weeping emojis. At least, I think that’s what they were (as you know I don’t tend to use emojis in case I accidentally offend through my lack of Emoji Understanding) - they might well have been crying with laughter, given the fact that Hazel
was at home from college and making ready to surprise me. I have, you will be pleased and not surprised to hear, totally forgiven her.
As we grow older, we tend
to say that our birthdays don’t really matter so much anymore. The restrictions of the last year and more have demonstrated that, in the main, we have been kidding ourselves. Why else have we made so much of Lockdown Birthdays, doing our best to make
them extra special?
My 2020 birthday has gone down in family history as the “Shivering in the Back Garden Birthday” as the Youngest of the Darling
Daughter and family huddled around the garden table in winter coats, hoodies, fleeces and blankets. It made the day truly memorable in its chilliness. This year could not have been more different: the sun shone on us. We shared a delicious vegetarian chilli
(cooked in advance by my daughter who likes to Be Prepared, former Girl Guide that she is), quaffed Prosecco, opened cards and presents and tucked into a cake made of towering doughnuts. Didn’t I do well!? Many, many thanks to everyone who remembered
At 4 p.m. we joined each other via our weekly Family Zoom, deferred from the previous day for Birthday Related reasons. The whole family sang Happy
Birthday to me in (kind of) unison then each of the four families gave their own (frankly more tuneful) renditions. Grandson Sam, who came late to the party’s day so missed his family’s big musical moment, was then exhorted by his father to sing
solo - which, bless him, he did. This has seriously impressed many of my friends who tell me, from experience, that it is almost impossible to get more than a grunt out of a 14 year old teenager. I did appreciate my Sam bucking the Teenage Trend - just for
Our birthdays, of course, celebrate a day which none of us will remember for ourselves - the day we were born. A lovely letter from my brother, Phil, enclosed
with his card, set the scene for me. I had sent him some photos I had come across of my first Family Beach Day. In the photo, I was a tiny babe cradled in my mother’s arms with my two older brothers grinning in the background. Phil wrote:
“ I don’t know if you’re aware of it but at that time mum was absolutely full of joy (you can perhaps see it in her face.) Why? Because at last she had
her Lassie....with your arrival her life completely changed. “Ooh, my wee lassie!” I can hear her now. Oh, I’m not saying she didn’t love the two rascals she already had - of course she did - but this new arrival made her joy complete.”
I’m so touched and grateful for this sweet reminiscence. I’m really pleased to know that when I came into the world (in the evening and definitely expected),
I made my dear mum so happy.
Just by being born....