Another one of my wee poems –
Then and Now
We used to have two little misses who lived in our house,
Blue eyes, curly hair, loving arms and kisses,
They brought great joy to our lives.
Now there are two grownup folk who visit our house,
Who think Mum and Dad are a bit of a joke!
But they still bring joy to our lives.
Probably most parents find it is easier with the second child, and however many more come after. We have the experience behind us and are less prone to panic! Elspeth was different in that she slept a lot and seldom objected to being laid down after feeding. She was very responsive when awake, and in a few weeks was gurgling at Anabel who was good at giving her soft toys and talking to her. They always were happy together and shared their toys. One thing we missed was the playpen – the couple who lent it to us become grandparents and needed it back. However Anabel was a good wee watcher! I stood outside the sitting room door occasionally to hear her telling the baby a story, ‘reading’ from a Ladybird book, or singing a nursery rhyme. We were still out every day, Anabel walking or sitting up on the pram where she could hold the handle at the sides. All the shopping was tucked into the sides of the pram – I fairly missed it when they were both too big to use it. The local folk were just as interested in Elspeth as in Anabel and we had lots of cards for both of them, still in albums here.
Elspeth was parked in the Vestry on Sunday mornings, and most times we could rely on her to sleep till we were back home. I had moved to a side seat when we bought a push-chair for Anabel, nearer the back. I took Anabel’s slippers plus a book, colouring book and crayons. She could trot along the pew or sit up beside me. She also joined in the singing, although not the same hymn as the congregation was singing! Fortunately quietly! By that time she knew quite a few Sunday School songs. Her favourite for a while was one which had a line ‘row me over the tide’; her version was ‘throw me over the side’!
Her first visit to Sunday School was for the Primary Party just after New Year in 1958. I was asked to help in the Department so we both went into the youngest class. It was great fun learning all the choruses. A few days after that party she was at the Haltwhistle Old Folks Treat with John and me and was the youngest person ever to have been invited. Not surprisingly! Everybody wanted to hold her and she was happy as long as she wasn’t too far away from us. John and I were proud of the way our girls responded to people from infancy, they were happy among crowds of people and smiled at every body. However, there was one day when Anabel didn’t smile at a rather jocular chap who teased her by saying they had no baby, so could he take Elspeth home with him? Anabel held on to the pram handle with both hands and told him, ‘No, you can’t.’ ‘Why not?’ was Ned’s reply. ‘Because Elspeth is OUR baby’! She was always very wary of him after that. Elspeth came to Sunday School right from the beginning, and often slept part of the time.
Another wee story about Anabel came to mind the other day. A couple from one of the village churches called in early one evening and I went to put the kettle on. When I came back our friend was teasing Anabel about her Ladybird dressing gown (she was ready for bed) and the spotty ladybird buttons. Would she give it to him, he asked, probably thinking she’d say it was too wee for him. She told him ‘No, Mummy says I’m to get a bigger one and we’ll keep this one for the baby.’ Perhaps he should have left it there, but he said ‘I don’t see any baby here, what baby?’ So she told him ‘The baby’s in Mummy’s tummy’, then came over and patted me. End of conversation. I went off and got the refreshments followed by Anabel to ‘help’ me. The couple were good friends to us and they had a car. We had some lovely outings with them to Silloth with their young daughter, Heather, who looked after Anabel in the water and played with her.
For a time before Elspeth’s birth and afterwards, we were living with a great anxiety which was always in our thoughts. John’s sister Anne was found to have a tumour in her neck which eventually was diagnosed as malignant. It would be difficult to remove and Anne was worried about what would happen to her two young children if the worst happened. The operation took place and the surgeon was able to remove the tumour but, unfortunately, in the process nerves were damaged and Anne lost movement in some facial muscles. For a young woman it cannot have been easy. She was a strong person and once she recovered carried on her life, became Matron at the Castle Douglas Hospital and did a great deal of good for many people. She and Willie raised the children, both a credit to them, and had the joy of grandchildren. After we retired we went occasionally to Castle Douglas which had great wee B&Bs. Walking along Castle Douglas with Anne was a slow progress, so many people would hail her for a blether and she knew everybody.
Elspeth was sitting up at 6 months and started crawling at about 11 months. She got about very quickly, sort of shuffling on her bottom with one leg bent in front and the other trailing after. I had to make her some dungarees as her legs were getting grazed. She got up and walked holding on at around 13 months. Soon after that, John’s Dad came to stay for a week or so when recuperating from a minor operation. He held both her hands and walked her around for ages each day, determined to get her off on her own! It was to no avail, she liked having her Granda’s company but just wasn’t ready to go. It wasn’t till 8th August 1961 that she let everything go and walked unaided quite steadily. Anabel was delighted, now they could run together!