Was smothered in grandchildren today. All four snuggling in to get a bit of grandad. Arm around one to the right, arm around one to the left, one wee one sprawled on my lap and chest, a fourth squeezed in just because.
They were happy. I was in dreamland. So much so that I actually nodded off for a few minutes. Me in my shielding helmet, them in my arms. All of us safe. Mum took a picture in her sneaky quiet way. Sent it to me after Mrs Paul and I got home. It’s gorgeous. Can’t share it here. Embargoed.
But I ask you …
Had YOU asked me four weeks ago would I ever fall asleep with a grandchild in my arms – I would have looked at you as a complete weirdo! A hug and a cuddle was what I lived for these four short weeks ago. What I dreamed of. Racked my brains for. Researched plastic sheet cuddles … plastic mac cuddles … bubble wrap cuddles … PPE cuddles … I would never – could never ever ever – “doze off” with a wee one in my arms.
Fast forward four weeks. This helmet has changed not just my life.
Mrs Paul is no longer living with an obsessive incessant intense “get me out of here” Mr Paul. Mrs Paul’s quality of life has improved. That makes two.
Our daughter with one grandson and Mrs Paul are now back in the “Nana business”. Daughter and son-in law’s work mean their wee one gets less and less time. With Nana back in business at our place – they and their wee one’s quality of life have all improved. That makes five.
Our other daughter/son-in-law (not working at home) and four grandchildren – each old enough to be climbing the walls – each old enough to get a real buzz from Nana AND grandad visiting. When we do, with mum around – that suddenly makes three adults to four wee ones. A much improved ratio. More improved quality of life. That makes eleven.
My job. Now grounded, balanced and focused – I can face the challenges of having a job maybe (or maybe not) in October. If yes – still a job – one with a reduced salary and skelton staff. If no – a redundancy payment to see Mrs Paul and I through to Spring 2021 at best. And at my age AND with thousands out of work – the future is not bright and definitely not orange (remember that advert).
But with my helmet at the ready I find myself the “strong one” surrounded by others on that horrible roller-coaster of despair. Balanced enough not just for that but to ask our lovely boss (and owner of the business) how he’s doing. Lend an ear, a heart and my working brain to someone having to make so many shitty decisions – financial, pragmatic, emotional and all affecting real people – and all affecting him. Now we are well into double figures.
Shielding is just one element in all of this. How can it be anything else?
We also have those on furlough to look after. Those who are lost and lonely as their lives are torn apart – still with an income but now a great big hole in their day and in their hearts.
We have those not on furlough and with no income to look after. Who have been cast adrift through no fault of their own. Now unable to see a future financially or emotionally. And then here in this group … the list goes on.
Even when shielding to “the rules” (advice) or “advice” (weighed and assessed) … none of us is an island.
This helmet has improved not just my life, but in ways I will never know also many lives connected to me and me to them. The massive cost of this helmet – divided by so many lives – suddenly becomes less “cost” and more “benefit-rich”.
Shielding – because of this helmet – has become (always with baby steps) just another element in my life. Shielding had served its purpose in allowing me to learn how to live with everything else whilst shielding. To live with Rona. And that remains true whether shielding is extended or removed. Something all us here know deep down we each have to face whether we want to or not.
Four weeks ago I lived off The Hug – floating on my own personal Cloud Nine for days. Today I dozed off smothered in grandchildren.
I would have thought that impossible until told I had (and shown the evidence).
But as I can’t show you that one, here’s a picture of one who fell asleep on me a few days earlier.