HAPPY GRANDPARENTS DAY

Grandparents

It’s Grandparents Day, so here are mine.

I never met my father’s parents as they immigrated to Auckland, New Zealand before I was born. My second brother claims they took one look at him and left the country, but having had eleven children, nine of whom survived to adulthood, they had about thirty grandchildren, and since my brothers and I were well down on the list, he wouldn’t have been much of a novelty anyway.

My mother, however, was raised as an only child through the type of in-family adoption common to those times. We were therefore all there was in the way of grandchildren, and were thus made much of. By the time we knew them they had retired to a market town in Berkshire, but before that my grandfather was head gardener on Major Charles Micklem’s estate in Longcross, Surrey, and had three assistants he referred to as ‘hopeless’, ‘helpless’, and ‘useless’, although I expect they were more competent than that. My grandmother was a professional cook and sometimes helped out up at the house when the regular cook was away. My mother remembers that she and the Micklem’s oldest daughter, Cynthia, used to run up and down the paths of the gardens my grandfather tended in order to elude the nursery maid if Nanny wanted her charge to come in while she still wanted to play.

My mother’s siblings lived in Buckinghamshire with her birth parents and they saw each other from time to time while she was growing up.

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