New year, new page

It’s been a few weeks since the last post, which is hardly a blink of the eye on a senior timescale, but there has been a major change.

I was looking forward to the arrival of my first grandchild in a benevolent, gently excited way, as if I was about to unwrap a lovely and long expected present. What I wasn’t expecting was the visceral thump of gratitude when she was finally put into my hands at two hours old, followed by an immediate wash of love for her tiny crimson feet and hands and crumpled face that was as powerful as any emotion I have ever felt in my whole life. I would have died for her, there and then, without a murmur. When she was taken away from us and put into an incubator in the ICU I was ready to tear down the hospital, or snatch the double-decker buses off the main road and hurl them into outer space, so powerful were my dread of what might be wrong and my longing for her to be well.

The test results came back at last, negative, and she was returned to her mother and father. The images of those other tiny bodies remaining in the unit and the agonized faces of the parents waiting beside them will stay with me for a long time. Since then in our own family there has been the usual chaos of life with a newborn, and a Christmas of beaming adults gathered around the implacable little eating/sleeping/excreting machine. Now the holiday is almost over and the annual summing-up and turning-new-leaf time is here yet again. Writing has been on the back burner for a while, but I went for a walk today with an old friend who is also a novelist. Epping Forest looked exotic in the weirdly unseasonal sunshine and it was so warm that we sat for ages on a bench by the bacon-sandwich van, making up stories about the aged bikers who gather there. One of them had the full leathers and long grey ponytail although he had to shuffle with the aid of a stick. My friend was pleasantly surprised to find peppermint tea on offer along with the fried bacon, although I think she was the only taker. As we walked on we had a writerly conversation that brought the book I have been tinkering with into sudden, sharp focus. It was lovely, both the company and the gift of inspiration.

Winter in the woods

Winter in the woods

I have written about grandmothers and granddaughters, particularly in Iris and Ruby, and that’s a good relationship to explore. I think I have shied away slightly from mothers and daughters, or maybe skirted it a little because this carries personal weight for me. My own mother died very suddenly and almost without explanation when I was just ten. All the time my daughter was growing up, until she passed that milestone, I feared irrationally for the repeat of history. I don’t fear in the same way for the new baby – in fact, I have realised that I don’t any longer fear anything much at all. That’s the major change that has occurred. I have done what I needed to do; the primary responsibility for the new baby is my daughter’s and she is more than capable of shouldering it, as her daughter will some day be capable in her turn. It’s soothing and reassuring and, in a miniature way, magnificent to feel like a stitch in this pattern.

This isn’t what the book is about, not really or not at all, but the recent events and today’s focus have made me look forward to turning another page at the start of another year.

Happy New Year.



6 thoughts on “New year, new page

  1. Congratulations Rosie, new life in ones family is always a celebration and even more precious when you understand that others face a far harder path forward. May I wish you and your family health and happiness in this time of new beginnings. Francesca.

  2. Rosie, what an absolutely wonderful post! You have put into words my exact feelings from when my grandaughter was born just over seven years ago! She is the light of my life and – yes! I would die for her or commit murder should anyone ever hurt her, but I do know that my son and daughter-in-law are eminently capable parents and will protect her with every fibre of their being, so you take a backward step and just enjoy this tiny speck of humanity without the responsibility. I also empathise with you on your feelings when your grandaughter was taken off to ICU. My grandaughter was born with a cleft palate and had to be operated on when she was six months old, and the fear and dread was terrible. But she came home the day after and even then had a smile for us, albeit a slightly wan one, but the horror of the operation receded into the distance. You are going to love being a grandmother as much as I do! You notice things about them that you completely missed in your own children. It’s proving to be a fascinating experience. 🙂

    Iris and Ruby is one of my favourites too, but I think the relationship between mothers and daughters is far more complex. Funnily enough, I lost my father when I was nine, although he was still alive. I went through a whole gamut of emotions concerning both my mother and my father and still do, although they are both dead now. From seeing them through the eyes of a child to seeing them through aging eyes and experiences and outside influences – well, it’s hard to be objective. Still, turn the page and move on.

    I sincerely hope that the writing goes well for you this year, dear Rosie. A Very Happy New Year to you and all your family!

    Rosemary Kench

    • Thank you for your wonderful message, Rosemary, as always. I’m happy to hear your granddaughter came through the surgery – even at a distance of seven years it must be a painful time for you to remember. After only six weeks of the new role I know how tigerishly protective one feels at one remove…with my own, I was somehow too close, and too busy, and probably too self-absorbed and too interested in my marriage to do much worrying about their physical survival! I just assumed they would flourish. That sounds rather awful, now, doesn’t it? Anyway, this is a very happy time of life, as you know You are so right – one does see things that one missed in one’s own.
      My best wishes to you and yours for 2016.

  3. Anything you write is wonderful and to me is always a book I cannot put down but I Have to say that although I continue to re-read all your books, Iris and Ruby has to be my favourite and most read of all. Here’s to a new one to look forward to. Thank you for all the pleasure yu have given me together with your travel tales.

    • Thank you so much, Christine. I’m so pleased you enjoy the books, and the traveller’s tales too. It’s always a particular delight to me– and every other author– to hear that the novels will bear re-reading. I love to think of them on your shelf. My best wishes to you.

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