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