Short story

First im­pres­sions are not good when Mary meets her grand­daugh­ter’s new boyfriend

YOURS (UK) - - Contents - By an­gela auger

My grand­daugh­ter Jenny al­ways sounds a lit­tle breath­less on the phone as if she’s just com­pleted a six-mile jog – which, know­ing her, she prob­a­bly had.

“Gran, there’s some­one I want you to meet.”

“Of course, dear. That will be lovely. Why not come to tea on Sun­day?” I replied, think­ing that it was bound to be a new young man she wanted to in­tro­duce me to. It usu­ally was. “Gran, this one’s spe­cial,” Jenny said. Ah. This was dif­fer­ent. She’d never said that be­fore. I said: “Well, that makes it even bet­ter, dear. Shall I see you about three o’clock then?”

“Great! Oh, and Gran, please be ex­tra nice. I don’t think Mum and Dad are too keen on him.”

I smiled to my­self as I put the phone down. I love all my grand­chil­dren dearly, but Jenny has a spe­cial place in my heart be­cause she was the first. I re­mem­ber so well the day she was born, more than 20 years ago. It was a crisp Novem­ber day and Bill and I were so ex­cited as we drove to the hos­pi­tal to meet the new ad­di­tion to our fam­ily.

Su­san, our daugh­ter, looked pale but con­tented and our son-in-law, Mike, was as proud as punch. He stood there, gaz­ing down at his lit­tle girl in awe, one fin­ger stroking her tiny hand as though

‘Mum and Dad want me to marry some­one rich and suc­cess­ful, but things don’t al­ways work out like that’

he couldn’t quite be­lieve she was real.

In the years to come, Mike proved to be a won­der­ful hus­band and fa­ther, yet when we first met him we had been very un­sure. Bill had com­mented: “He’s very quiet, Mary. Doesn’t have a word to say for him­self. He’ll never get on in life un­less he bucks his ideas up. And he al­ways looks so scruffy.”

“You can never judge on first ap­pear­ances,” I protested. “Per­haps he’s shy and not very good at look­ing af­ter him­self.”

“Humph!” was all I got in re­ply. Pri­vately, I was in­clined to agree with Bill, but Su­san was mad about the boy, so I could only hope that their re­la­tion­ship would be as strong as ours. I knew that Bill still had his doubts even as he led her up the aisle.

As it turned out, we were both wrong. Mar­riage brought out Mike’s con­fi­dence. He worked hard and pro­vided well for his fam­ily. And, as the years passed, I no­ticed that he was as pro­tec­tive of their only daugh­ter as Su­san’s fa­ther had been of her.

“I know Mum and Dad only want the best for me,” Jenny had con­fided in me one day when were out walk­ing my two res­cue dogs, Fred­die and Meg. “The trou­ble is they want me to marry some­one rich and suc­cess­ful, but things don’t al­ways work out like that, do they, Gran?”

To be fair, some of Jenny’s boyfriends had come pretty close to her par­ents’ idea of the per­fect hus­band.

Ja­son, for in­stance. He was def­i­nitely go­ing places with his de­signer clothes and fash­ion­able hair­cut. But he was more in love with his im­age than Jenny so he soon dis­ap­peared from our lives.

Then there was Nigel, the suave es­tate agent. Al­ways on his mo­bile phone, even when he came to tea. He didn’t last long ei­ther, to my se­cret re­lief.

I quite liked the most re­cent one, Kevin. He was some­thing in bank­ing, but he dom­i­nated the con­ver­sa­tion – not ev­ery­one is that in­ter­ested in the ups and downs of the stock ex­change.

When Sun­day came around, I spent the morn­ing mak­ing cheese scones and Jenny’s favourite choco­late cake. I had just re­turned from walk­ing the dogs

My heart sank when I saw the bat­tered old van that had pulled up out­side, its tyres caked in mud…

and put the ket­tle on when there was a toot on a car horn. I peeped out of the kitchen win­dow.

My heart sank when I saw the bat­tered old van that had pulled up out­side, its tyres caked with mud. Out leaped a gan­gling young man with un­ruly curly hair. He wore an old T-shirt and grubby jeans tucked into Welling­ton boots that were as muddy as the van.

What a way to dress when you had been in­vited out for af­ter­noon tea! I won­dered what on earth he did for a liv­ing. Sup­press­ing these neg­a­tive thoughts, I went to the front door to greet them with a wel­com­ing smile.

Jenny dashed up the gar­den path to give me a big hug then turned to her com­pan­ion who hung back, look­ing em­bar­rassed.

I thought, ‘I’m not sur­prised he’s feel­ing em­bar­rassed – the state of him!’.

Tak­ing his arm, Jenny said: “Gran, this is Si­mon. He didn’t want to meet you un­til he’d had a chance to clean him­self up a bit, but I told him you wouldn’t mind. Si­mon, this is my dar­ling grand­mother I’ve told you so much about.”

She gazed up at him ador­ingly.

Si­mon wiped his hand on a clean­ish part of his jeans and held it out for me to shake.

“Hello, Si­mon,” I smiled, try­ing not to show my sur­prise at his di­shev­elled ap­pear­ance which was a far cry from fash­ion-con­scious Ja­son and smartly dressed Nigel and Kevin. No won­der Su­san and Mike weren’t im­pressed by the lat­est boyfriend!

“I’ve been re­ally look­ing for­ward to meet­ing you – but I would have pre­ferred not to turn up on your doorstep look­ing like this,” he smiled sheep­ishly. I had to ad­mit, he did have a lovely smile. And nice brown eyes.

Fred­die and Meg, tails wag­ging ea­gerly, weaved around his legs and he crouched down to make a fuss of them.

Stand­ing up again, he con­tin­ued: “The thing is I’ve come straight from work and didn’t have time to shower and change as I didn’t want to make us late. Do you think it would be bet­ter if we sat out­side in the gar­den as I prob­a­bly pong a bit?”

“Good idea!” I agreed, dis­armed by his hon­esty.

So the three of us sat in the gar­den and had tea un­der the ap­ple tree that Bill and I had planted when we first moved in to our cot­tage.

As we chat­ted, I soon un­der­stood why Jenny had fallen for Si­mon. He was charm­ing and kind and clearly in love with my favourite grand­child who proudly showed me the ring sparkling on her left hand. “I wanted you to be the first to know, Gran,” she beamed.

I don’t think they’ll ever be rich – Si­mon told me he of­ten doesn’t charge his clients if he thinks they can’t af­ford the bill – but I feel sure they’ll be very happy to­gether.

And, as I looked down at Fred­die and Meg lolling con­tent­edly at our feet, I couldn’t help think­ing that it will be very nice to have a vet in the fam­ily.

About our au­thor Af­ter a spell in Florida, An­gela and her hus­band now live in Wales with res­cue cat, Rufus. An­gela en­joys gar­den­ing, paint­ing, mu­sic and cook­ing.

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