Meet Eliza Kathryn, 7lb 1oz, born at 5.32pm on Friday, October 18, my beautiful new granddaughter who’s a girl in a hurry, bouncing into the world 10 days before the due date and giving her mother, Imogen, little time to think before she pushed.
Baby arrived in between me covering the 10th edition of TribFest at the Bahrain Rugby Football Club and attending the Belgian Club’s Mussels celebration at the Gulf Hotel, probably as I was in the shower.
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I had an inkling it was going to happen because as soon as I walked on to the pitch the act on stage was performing a Drifters medley.
Now all my children were indoctrinated by the sounds of my favourite soul music band and could sing along to You’re More Than A Number in My Little Red Book and Ben E King’s Stand By Me before they could even recite a nursery rhyme.
Almost with a premonition of what was to come, I asked the singer to record a message to mother and child!
The first photos of baby Eliza arrived as I stepped into the hotel’s ballroom and I celebrated the birth with my Belgian buddies … with an insane wave of guilt that I wasn’t at the hospital. I’m sure it’s a feeling shared by all expats staying so far away from loved ones.
I’d booked a flight with my sensible hat on well in advance to save costs, timing the departure between the due date and the 10-day period of grace they give before a birth is induced, which is what happened at exactly the same hospital in our home city of Bristol when Stan Jnr was born 16 years ago.
What a dummy I am. Baby will arrive when it wants to, not to make it convenient for granddad to fly into the UK from Bahrain.
And life has a way of kicking a dad when he’s down. My 20-year-old daughter suffered severe tears and blood loss and had to undergo a two-hour operation to repair the damage.
News came through that Imogen had taken a turn for the worse and needed blood transfusions. Mum was by her bedside and understandably anxious and sleeping at the hospital.
The Sunday and Monday flights were full but I managed to find a seat on Tuesday’s flight with impressively caring and conscientious assistance from a young KLM call centre assistant.
Our connection was cut short and she called me back. Her name was Eman which she explained meant ‘faith’ in English. She restored my faith in customer service.
Of course, I had to pay a penalty for changing flights etc. but I fully expected and accepted that. But the process, and my obvious anxiety, was dealt with in a cool, calm, helpful and beautiful manner.
Thank you KLM.
I can’t wait to cuddle my daughter and granddaughter (and, of course, the good lady wife, Kathryn) and Stan Jnr.
My eldest son, Louis, is planning a flying trip to Bristol amid opening new theatres in London and Madrid, and my eldest daughter Charmaine will be on her way with my other two grandchildren, Arthur (who likes to be called by his second name Kai) and Esme. They’re all the apples of my eye.
Kai(thur) and Esme
I’ll be back in Bahrain in November as life goes on with new and exciting adventures.
GDNlife is good, no matter what the ups and downs.
Here’s praying the latest addition to the family, little Eliza, has a full, happy and healthy life.
Apple of my eye
Granddad can promise you one thing … it will not be boring.