March 24, 2009

This post is not about shoes

Filed under: family,misc,This is not a mommy blog — Duchess @ 3:18 pm

Silverbridge (Trollope fans will recognise that as code for The Duchess’s Elder Son) phoned from Seattle just over a week ago.  I was on the boat, where I have recently sorted out internet access, but cell phone reception is a still a little dodgy.

Pangolin is 62 feet long and 6.5 feet wide, and I only get phone reception at either end, with a long dead zone in the middle. Late Sunday evening I was just emerging from the engine room at the back (where I was fussing over my batteries) when the phone sprang into life and registered a missed call. 

I opened the hatch, and standing on the little stern deck, picked up my voice mail.  A quarter moon shone on the canal and on the large, round hay bales in the fields on the opposite side.  The farmhouse’s windows gleamed in the distance, and, from along the tow path, a quarter of a mile away, the lights of the pub beckoned steadily.

I don’t usually make international calls from my cell (because they cost a small fortune) but I had a feeling that I wanted to return this call.  I hadn’t heard from Silverbridge for several weeks.

My son, child who first made me a mother, told me that sometime in the early autumn or late summer he was going to make me a grandmother.  When we finished talking I trundled up the towpath to the pub and shared the news with a batch of people whose last names I don’t know.

Then I played a couple of games of pool.

A long time ago I thought I would feel ambivalent (at best) about becoming a grandmother. When I was a very little girl my friends and I used to play a competitive game about how old our grandmothers were, each of us making more and more extravagant claims until the biggest liar of all shouted, MY GRANDMOTHER IS A HUNDRED.  To be a grandmother was to be old.

A couple of decades later I remember my mother, quite a lot younger than I am now, demanding to know when I was going to make her a grandmother (and complaining that my dog was interfering with the prospect).  I was still surprised that she would want such a thing, except as a deeply abstract idea, far into the future.  My mother wasn’t old; how could it be possible?  How could she want it?

I understand now.  I don’t feel old at all, even though my own grandmother really was a hundred when she died three years ago.

I do feel like someone who, one afternoon at work, might get up from her desk and ask, Anyone fancy a cup of tea? 

And then when several faces (some middle aged) look up and answer (in their British way), Go on, why not?  I might also just be the sort of person who would add, Oh, I forgot to say!  I have some exciting news!

And then, apparently, it would be perfectly natural for the others barely to blink before smiling and suggesting (empty tea cups still expectantly out raised), Could it be that you’re going to be a grandmother?

I’m not sure how I got to be that oh-so-obvious progenitor, but it seems I am. 

Do you think it’s the sensible shoes?


  1. Oh how exciting!!!! congratulations! I can’t wait to hear all about it as the pregnancy progresses & the adorable baby pictures follow! Yay!! Very excited for you!

    Comment by Twenty Four At Heart — March 24, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

  2. Grandmothers are young and hip these days, unlike back when our grandmothers were…well, grandmothers. It’s a blast and you’ll wonder why you waited so long (like you had a choice).

    And…..about those sensible shoes……..

    Comment by Midlife Slices — March 24, 2009 @ 8:39 pm


    I don’t know about the sensible shoes…when I told someone I had exciting news (Beloved’s daughter just announced she’s pregnant) I was asked if I was pregnant. I’m 46 years old, for crying out loud, and have had my tubes tied for 14 years.

    You may get a different response than you think…

    Comment by Jan — March 25, 2009 @ 5:10 am

  4. Congratulations! I would not have guessed that you could be a grandmother, but then again I’ve never seen your shoes…

    Comment by Liz — March 25, 2009 @ 5:48 am

  5. Actually, I’ve always thought those shoes were quite smart. But then, I’m the great-grandmother.

    Comment by Old Woman — March 25, 2009 @ 7:51 am

  6. No, I think it’s the sly grin on your face that gives you away. Congratulations!

    Comment by ruth pennebaker — March 25, 2009 @ 10:11 am

  7. Hey, old buddy! I am SO jealous!!!!! I am dying to be a grandmother, but praying it won’t happen for at least 5 years, as Miles is only 20. I just found out about this blog and your island life while reading the Bulletin in the WC – so much to catch up on. Are you going to be on Lummi this summer? Richard and I were thinking of a trip to Puget Sound or British Columbia, so send me word – and which B&B? I’ve been combing the web. xox, Brett

    Comment by Brett Cook — March 25, 2009 @ 4:24 pm

  8. I agree with Midlife Slices. Grandmothers are no longer old. They are quite young and hip. Although my daughter tells me that if you use the word hip, you aren’t. *sigh*

    Congratulations. I look forward to hearing about your grandmother’s journey. I also look forward to my own one day. I’m not ready but that’s more about where my girls are in their life than any resistance on my part.

    I’m very happy for you and Silverbridge…….and the Old Woman. ((hugs))

    Comment by Smart Mouth Broad — March 28, 2009 @ 6:22 am

  9. Building on a theme, if 60 is the new 40 then grandmother is the new hip aunt. Enjoy!

    Comment by Dick — March 28, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  10. Well, thank you all you nice people. I will try not to be too tediously besotted, but I am sure you will all admit that this is quite the most interesting thing that has happened in a couple of decades or so, and definitely merits a post or three, or who’s counting anyway?

    Comment by Duchess — March 29, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  11. Wonderful! Congratulations to you. I’m sure the new arrival will also provide lots more fodder for your fabulous blog.

    Comment by Barbara @ Hole In The Donut Travels — March 31, 2009 @ 7:49 am

  12. I envy you so much, Duchess. My three (son and two step-daughters) are showing no sign of getting up off their arses and making a grandmother of me. If they don’t get on with it soon, I shall become like Madonna and Wotsername and start pillaging third world orphanages.

    Comment by Tessa — April 2, 2009 @ 11:21 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

CommentLuv badge

Freely hosted by Powered by WordPress. Theme by H P Nadig