My dad, AKA Grandy, (who was undoubtedly the hit of the holiday for Scrip) wrote a few words after our recent stay in Cornwall. They made me cry (in a good way). Thank you Grandy and you are always welcome to come and see us in the Big Smoke, chickens allowing.
Just for the record now they have all gone back: IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO SEE MY FAMILY.
In the far west one gets used to isolation; that and age have combined to produce post-visit exhaustion syndrome. My mind doesn’t recognise my body’s insistence that I’m a 70 plus OAP. For that I’m glad, otherwise I would not have been catching Scrip time after time to stop her falling into the pond as she hurtled down our steep lawn on her scooter with fierce but joyful concentration. It would have stopped me going bear-hunting across brambly fields or threading through the bamboo thickets following an infant intent on telling the bear to ‘please go away’. It would have meant no scramble to the caves on the beach to talk to Giant Bolster. In short it would have stopped me reliving the fatherly pleasures I first felt many years ago.
I now recall that 2-year-olds, however articulate, take things literally. ‘After lunch’ isn’t some time between lunch and tea, it’s as soon as lunch time hunger is satisfied; the Celtic ‘directly’ or ‘now in a minute’ don’t apply, now is now, and if it isn’t reasoned discourse can give way to howls of anger and disappointment. Although a peace seeker by nature I managed not to give in to such intimidation, encouraged no doubt by Scrip’s mother’s stern gaze. Grandparents may feel entitled to indulge their charges but I try to emulate our daughters’ grandparents who always kept their peace even when they thought we were wrong – whether I succeed is a moot point.
I am acutely aware that I’ve had it easy though compared with the very many grandparents who for various reasons, most of them economic, take on the daily task of caring for their grandchildren. They have my unstinting admiration. There is no more important task than caring for and developing the minds and bodies of the young. Perhaps like training for a sport you get more resilient and better with repetition. I hope so.
As I write the house is still and quiet although now and again I would swear I can still hear Scrip’s laugh. What seemed like peace at first is now an emptiness, her vitality, inquisitiveness and relentless energy made quiet times precious, now they are commonplace. I miss the look on her face as she contemplated being naughty, her giggles of happiness as she played with her Aunts, the good morning and goodnight kiss and hug. I am even getting withdrawal symptoms from Peppa Pig! Come back soon Scrip.