The Great Comforter...
Alan and Gran L on holiday at Sandhyhills near Dalbeattie.
This was our first holiday and we couldn't go very far as Alan was not a good traveller. He cried so hard in his car seat David had to stop the car numerous times and Gran L and I would take turns to get out and stand by the side of the road shoogling him from side to side whilst singing to try and calm him and hopefully help him to nod off. It worked for short bursts and the journey took forever. We pandered to him like this as he had a nasogastric feeding tube at the time and if he cried hard, he could cry it out and it was very traumatic trying to get it in again (that was my job!)
Once there we had a great holiday and Alan went on a beach for the first time (he slept through most of that!)
Gran L (David's mum) wasn't just a mum-in-law to me, she was a second mum and best friend rolled into one. I really have no idea how we would have coped in Alan's early years without hers (and my mum's) help.
Gran L not only looked after Alan to let me get back to work part time, she also shared the responsibility of taking him to Parent & Baby Group and later on Nursery, at the Craighalbert Centre where Alan and we were taught how to circumvent Alan's difficulties and give him the best possible start in life.
She also came on holiday with us in the early years to help out and give us a break and let D and I go out for dinner or lunch and just be a couple for a little while. We could enjoy a couple of hours together safe in the knowledge that Alan was being well looked after.
I have many happy memories from that holiday but the one that sticks in my mind the most, is the evening Gran L decided she was strong enough to lift the baby bath full of water off the lounge floor and carry it to the kitchen sink to be emptied (the holiday house was open plan so the kitchen and lounge were all in one space.) I told her to wait until David was back from getting Alan settled in his cot but she insisted she could manage.
She stood behind the bath, approaching it like a weightlifter approaching his weights, fixed her feet wider than her hips (her first mistake) bent from the knees, back straight and grabbed the bath at either end. She then slowly lifted the bath till it was level with her thighs and tried to pull her feet together to stand tall but hadn't reckoned on the water in the bath sloshing from side to side, putting her balance all out of kilter!
I still laugh out loud (and I am just now) as I visualise her carrying this bath, her feet miles apart meaning she was only about 4 feet high, and the water sloshing left and right out of the bath and all over the floor as she shuffled her way to the sink. I actually thought she was going to do the splits at one point.
When she got to the sink she gave the bath an almighty heave onto the draining board, tilting it towards the sink at the same time, only for it to slip causing the last of water in the bath to cascade over the side and all over her. The bath landed upside down on the floor about three feet away from her. She ended up on her knees with her arms in the sink, laughing so hard she could hardly breathe. I actually thought I was going to pass out from laughing so much.
David came out of Alan's room all annoyed at the racket, telling us to shoosh as we'd wake Alan, and that made us laugh even harder, like a pair of naughty school girls being told off!
It was one of many moments we shared that could have us helpless with laughter in seconds, that no one else could really understand. It was our moment and ours alone :-)
D and I were also convinced she had some magic drug in her bag that she slipped Alan when we weren't looking.
She would arrive at our house to find us both beyond exhausted from trying to settle a very upset boy and would take him in her arms and wander off around The Circuit (in the house we stayed in at the time you could walk in a circle from the hall, through the lounge, kitchen, dining room and back into the hall and we called it The Circuit) and by the time she had gone round once, he would be calm, settled and snuggled in!
She held him exactly as she does in this photo, and despite doing my best to replicate it, it never worked for me.
There were many songs that she sang to him when he was upset, but the favourite and most successful was Ally Bally Bee (Ally being one of our pet names for Alan) He would cuddle in, gaze up at her, his eyes would close and blissful sleep would descend.
We all miss her lots.