“Hi Dad” I smiled at him when he came through the living room.
“Hi kiddo – is this her?” He asked, pointing towards Danielle.
“Yep; you want to hold her?” I asked him.
“Well, erm... Okay? I’ve not had much practice with babies.” He murmured, and I fitted Danielle into his arm.
“What – and I have?” I asked sarcastically.
“I suppose we’re both in the same boat; kind of.” He laughed.
“Yeah – apart from the mother and grandfather thing, yeah, we’re in the same boat.” I giggled.
“I heard about your Mum, kid.” He put his hand on my shoulder.
Had he heard what had actually happened? Or was it something made-up to protect him from the truth? I decided to play dumb, just in case.
“Sorry – what?” I pretended not to have heard.
“Your Mum, I’m sorry about the whole death thing.” He sniffed as he said this. But wasn’t it him that had moved on in life?
“How did it happen again?” I asked.
“Heart attack the doctors think.” He informed me.
“Oh yeah, I forgot.” I muttered – I hoped it sounded convincing. Darn the fact that I’d always been a bad liar.
Joe came in then, sensing my awkwardness to change the subject, and I was grateful to him.
“So, Can I get you anything to eat? Pork and chips? A sandwich? What do you fancy?” Joe asked my Dad, seeing as it was going up to one o’ clock.
“Well, what are you guys having?” He asked, feeling awkward.
“We’ve already eaten, so it’s up to you.” Joe said, dismissively.
“I don’t want to be any bother. I can always go down to the shops and grab a sandwich.” He fussed.
“Dad; what do you want to eat?” I asked him, mock-sternly.
“I’ll just have a sandwich then.” He smiled at me.
“Dad will have a cheese and pickle sandwich.” I told Joe.
“You know me too well, kiddo.” He laughed, ruffling my hair, but then Danielle was sick all down his front, so I had to take her from him, and I brought him into the kitchen to sponge him down.
“Sorry Dad!” I exclaimed.
“It’s fine; babies do these things all the time. The only things they do are eat and sleep and throw up and poop. Besides, you were sick in my mouth when you were a baby, so this is hardly anything compared to that!” He laughed.
“Yeah, Joe and Jordan have already taken the Mickey out of me for that.” I laughed, remembering that tense night before the wedding.
Joe worked quickly but not un-human-like, in the kitchen, making Dad a sandwich.
It was pretty amusing the way he turned his nose up at the smell of the pickles. I remembered trying one when I was a young girl, and taking the whole day off school because I felt so ill… Those were the days.
He asked Dad what he wanted to drink, and obviously Dad wanted a coffee – no change there then.
We discovered the milk had gone off, and I made a joke out of it by asking ‘one lump or two?’
We had to give him some black-current juice instead, and apologized, but we laughed it off anyway. I went into the nursery to feed Danielle then.
“Are you staying for the night?” Joe asked Dad.
“Well, I really should get back to Sophie...” He muttered.
“I’ll bring her if you want; it’ll be nice to have the whole family over here. You see, she might not admit it to you, but she’s having a really hard time not being with her Mum.” Joe murmured in a quiet voice.
“Really; she just shrugged it off a minute ago.” Dad whispered – didn’t they have any idea that I could hear everything that they were saying?
I can understand Dad not realising, but had Joe seriously forgotten that I was the same as him now? I had the answer to that: probably, yes.
I came back in the room then, seeing as I was finished with feeding and burping Danielle.
‘We are going to have words later.’ I thought sternly.
‘Why?’ He thought back, innocently.
‘You seem to forget that I can hear the words and thoughts of people in the next room.’ I thought back.
‘Ohhhh…’ He realised.
“Why don’t we bring Sophie here?” I suggested to Dad, because apparently, I ‘hadn’t been able to hear any of Joe’s and his conversation.’
“But you hate Sophie!” Dad protested.
“I did, but it’s amazing what marriage does to you!” I laughed.
“Okay, I’d better set off…” Dad laughed, reaching for his jacket.
“No, it’s alright. I’ll go.” I said, and I think it was Joe who grabbed me up into a tight squeeze that prevented me from getting any closer to the door, and to my car.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Joe laughed.
“To my Dad’s place – to pick up Sophie” I was confused; why wouldn’t he let me go?
“You’ve just had a baby, Beth. Don’t be silly.” Joe said, not letting me out of his grip, no matter how much I squirmed.
“Yes I’ve just had a baby, but that doesn’t mean to say that I can’t drive.” I pointed out.
“Well, if Danielle needs something, how are you going to tend to her?” Joe argued.
“I’ll pull over.” I shrugged.
“I thought you were leaving her here.” Joe said.
“I would, but I doubt that you have motherly instincts to take care of her every need.” I snapped.
“I’ll go.” Dad said quietly.
“No!” Joe and I shouted at him, simultaneously.
Joe released me, and so I took my chance run to the car, strap Danielle into the baby-seat, put my key in the ignition, and start driving off at an acceptable speed for whilst you have a newborn baby in the car: 30 miles per hour.
It was incredibly slow compared to what I was used to, but I was keeping to the speed regulations today, because of Danielle.
Usually it’s just by own life that I risk when I drive insanely fast (and yes, there was one time when it was my Mum’s life too), but I wasn’t risking Danielle’s life for anything. As far as I was concerned, Danielle’s life was far more important than anybody else’s life - especially far more important than mine (Joe’s life ranked about a centimetre under hers – not a lot).
I only had to stop twice to see to Danielle, and all it was is that she was tired of travelling – I could now hear her mind so I knew what she wanted, rather than panicking over what it might and might not be.
I picked Sophie up, and she understood how I needed to keep Danielle in the front with me and didn’t complain about going in the back either – but we did have a nice lengthy conversation.
I told her how Joe hadn’t wanted me to drive, and she said that she understood his perspective, but understood mine as well. I couldn’t believe that I had never liked this woman – she was so caring, understanding and perfect for my Dad!
Maybe I had always been jealous of the love that my Dad and she shared…
We got back faster than I’d come – it didn’t just seem it, it was physically a shorter time.
I didn’t even need to stop the car to see to Danielle, as when Danielle started crying, Sophie had reached around, scooped Danielle up in her arms, and gave her the attention that she desired.