Twelve years ago, I had this inexplicable urge to dye my hair in pastel shades of pink, buy orthopaedic shoes and bake lamingtons. I wore myself out wondering why; this was usually the preoccupation of little old ladies. I felt the need for a snooze and was sleeping like a log in my easy chair, comfy as a bug under my granny square rug, when the phone rang. It was my son who told me that he was a dad and I was a grandmother. Once I had worked my way through the fog I’d solved the mystery of the lamingtons, the dye job and my need for afternoon naps.
I was as happy as Larry, happier actually because unlike the boxer Larry Foley, I didn’t have to beat people up to get to the prize. I was a long distance Melbourne grandmother to a Sydney granddaughter. This news was a preferable alternative to visions of jackets that tie in the back and nursing homes for the cerebrally distressed.
I rushed into the street and accosted two elderly ladies on their way to Bingo. ‘I’m a grandma’, I said. The amused and bemused pair must have been related, they had that family resemblance. They were both round as rissoles, both wore flowered prints, gloves and pill box hats that perched on the trademark purple perm. We shook hands and they congratulated me. ‘You’ll love it, luv,’ said one, ‘it’s a great gig’.
‘Will I know what to do? I asked. Oh, yes, said the other, ‘it’s as easy as riding a bike’. But I have absolutely no sense of balance so I wasn’t as encouraged by their assurances as I should have been.
I tried to talk to the golden Labrador crossing the road and narrowly missed being concussed by a Volvo. I decided it was time to go home.
My neighbour Fred slouched over his rocking chair on his front porch. His pal Johnny Walker was clutched firmly to his bosom. It was only four in the pm but Fred was already as pissed as a newt. I was pleased as punch about my good news and wasn’t about to let Fred dampen my day. ‘I’m a grandma, Fred’, I said. ‘My son and his wife have a baby girl’.
‘Thath great’, sprayed the alcoholically challenged Fred, ‘great. Leth thelebrate’. How about a little nip for the nipper, har, har’ He had a laugh like a drain and a face that I’m sure his mother would have loved if only she’d had a chance to get to know it. She had run away from home soon after Fred was born. Fred inhaled the rest of the bottle’s contents and I took a step back. He was the spitting image (and I use the term advisedly) of Sir Les Patterson at his most refined. Sir Les has a head of hair and Fred is as bald as a coot, but if you compared the drools, the food, the spit stains and the laugh, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them.
‘No thanks, Fred. ‘I’ve got to see a man about a dog.’
The grand aunts, the cousins, the grand uncle, the great grandma were thrilled, chuffed, and overjoyed. They were as happy as prawns on Paul Hogan’s barbie when they heard the news but great grandfather was confused because he thought he was already great.
Was it going to be Nanny, Nan, Granny, Gran, or Nona? There were still weighty decisions to make. I could be as dignified as the Queen Mum in pearls and twin-set or a homey milk and cookies gran. But pearls don’t do much for a five foot two inch dumpling, and milk and cookies don’t travel well, so I’ve settled for nanna.
A two and a half kilo morsel has brought my mortality home to me in a way that arthritic kneecaps and failing eyesight has failed to do. I’ve learned to adjust to my slowly disintegrating body, by ignoring Newton’s law of gravity, and the mirror. It’s all downhill and across the New South Wales border from here on in.
With apologies to Kermit the frog, it’s easier being green these days than being a long distance grandma. Dezeree’s there in Sydney and I’m here in Melbourne calculating how much luggage I will need in order to take that trip and how often I can get away. With luck I can time visits for her first tooth, her first word and her graduation, by which time the luggage will include a walking frame and an embarrassment of pharmaceuticals.
Dezzy was a tender little tidbit back then. There were several older types (at least nine or ten months old); who were as keen as mustard to make themselves available for that first date. But they had her daddy to contend with. His plans are to gently guide Dezzy through her puberty and teens. The tennis lessons, the swimming lessons, the art galleries and classical music have been pre-planned. The school, the university vetted. Dezzy’s pre and post-pubescent years have been efficiently programmed.
Twelve years later and a baker’s dozen of Melbourne boys would be following her around like trained puppies at best of show if she’d let them but thankfully Dezzy’s plans don’t include them boys just yet.
I found what I think is my first challenge. If I were to rewrite it today I might have written it from the perspective of the grandmother of a teenager. That teenager is visiting for the Christmas holidays, so I just might, but it won’t be for the challenge. In the meantime and even if it is a cheat I will just re-publish this first article, which is on similes (which I tried to make Australian). PS. I have been finding that it is easier to think up a challenge than to actually take one on. Pretty soon I am writing an article on this topic. Maybe even thinking up a topic to challenge the wordpress team that the bloggers can judge.What about something like ‘Turning the tables? 🙂