So after the first grandchild was born - very soon after - I received a telephone call. A familiar, East Scottish accent immediately told me who it was.
"Hi", she said, "How are you?"
I gave her the usual response, and - after an inappropriately long pause - she gave me hers.
Grand daughter M had - in the first few months of her little life - suddenly been taken ill with a virus, and had shown signs of fitting - I mean having a fit - as she lay in her cot, about 10 or 11 the evening before.
I will say now that they never found out what that virus actually was, or - indeed - if it was a virus at all, but the best medical minds in the East of Scotland (or at least whoever was on duty at Elgin at the time) had got together and decided - for the sake of giving an opinion - that a virus it must have been.
"So what happened?" I breathlessly asked, and my daughter told me the story.
M began fitting at about 10 pm the previous night, and rather than dial 999, her mother decided to call the local doctor, who was at a dinner party and drunk at the time. He reassured her that nothing was wrong, she was making a fuss, he would not come to visit until the following morning and she should stop trying to ruin his delightful dinner party. At no time did he suggest dialling 999 and getting emergency help.
So my daughter put the phone down, and looked over her daughter, and about a quarter of an hour later, M began to fit again, so - at fucking last - she dialled 99 and the paramedics arrived to take them all to intensive care.
Too fucking late. Too much oxygen had been denied her little brain, and the general opinion was that she would be brain-damaged for life.
"How brain-damaged?' I asked.
"We won't know for quite a few years", was the only response she could give for about 4 of those few years.
Shit, shit, shit, shit. shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit - was all I could think at the time.
Now, all these years later, the extent of the brain-damage is quite apparent, and it is severe enough to make me worry for M's future, when both me and her mother are gone, but even that is hard to tell.
Blacker than fucking black. Excuse my French.
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