I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned that Mr H believes, based on the Immigrant’s size and type, that it moved in with me at least three years ago. I was still on maternity leave with Jennifer three years ago. There’s a certain symmetry (in my pattern-seeking brain) that the Squatter probably started to grow during one maternity leave and was uncovered during another.
In all likelihood, we therefore have two threenagers living with us. One, a much-loved and cherished daughter who goes by names such as Jennifer, Jennifer Bear, Jenny Bear, Jen-Jen and Jen-Jenneroony, brings so much joy to us. In addition to thousands of golden moments in her short life to date, recently she has been such a star. She takes hold of my hand to help me up the stairs or into the bathroom. She asked Graham the other night why I wasn’t sleeping at home. He explained that I am sleeping at Grandma’s house because, with my poorly leg, it’s easier for me to use the downstairs bathroom and bedroom. Jennifer told Graham that we need to find a new house with a downstairs bathroom for Mammy and suggested that “we should stick our house on to Grandma’s”.
The other threenager also goes by a few different names, including the Squatter, Immigrant, Interloper, Tumour and a fair few others that shouldn’t be repeated in polite company (I’m assuming that at least some of you are polite at least some of the time?), and brings no joy. The best that can be said about this three-year old is that it has given me an unnecessary reminder to treasure the blessings I have in my life.
It’s mind-boggling to me that Leo grew (and grew and grew!) inside me while the tumour was doing the same. It seems highly unlikely that we could have discovered the tumour before I was pregnant with Leo as I had no symptoms until this year. If I had found out much earlier, then Leo wouldn’t be here with us to bring such mischief, joy and drama (“hello, kettle, you’re black”) into our lives, and that’s inconceivable to me. Surreal times.
Mr H told us a few weeks ago that the Squatter had tested positive for the IDH1 mutation. Counter-intuitively, at least to my layman’s ear, Mr H says that this particular mutation statistically shows some survival benefit, although I’m not sure that anyone knows why. I haven’t Googled it and don’t wish to know, thanks! Still, I’ll take any survival benefit that I can find and be grateful for a mutation in my brain. Now there’s something that I never thought I’d write!
TPPA: Second Thoughts?
Using the term “pattern-seeking brain” above reminded me that I wanted to share the story of how said pattern brain nearly derailed Graham’s proposal plans.
It probably won’t surprise you that, both consciously and sub-consciously, I look out for patterns in anything, be they words, dates and/or numbers. Palindromes are always a pleasing pattern to spot. One long-standing habit is looking at the odometer and figuring out how many miles we are from a reading of note. For example, I automatically clock the following categories:
- palindromic readings (e.g., 53435);
- round numbers (e.g., 60,000);
- numbers that have lines of symmetry whether in the vertical (e.g., 52052), horizontal (e.g., 18081) or rotational (e.g., 69869) planes; and
- numbers that correspond to a date of note (e.g., 22681).
On 10 August 2010, Graham asked me if he could borrow my car (which had actually been my brother’s car, complete with Yoda on the dashboard) the following day so that he could help out his brother with moving some belongings from Cramlington to Newcastle. The following morning, while waiting at some traffic lights on the way to work, I noticed that the odometer wasn’t too far from reaching a palindromic milestone. Graham borrowed the car that evening and I didn’t think anything more of it.
The next day on my way to work, possibly even at the same traffic lights as my odometer warning synapses had flashed the day before, I noticed that the odometer had gone way past the palindrome. I couldn’t remember exactly how many miles before the palindrome the car had been but I roughly worked out that Graham had probably driven just under 70 miles. I’m geographically challenged but even I know that Cramlington is less than 35 miles from Newcastle.
Graham’s face was a picture (think rabbit in headlights with a touch of disbelief) when I told him about my odometer confusion. I asked him how far away Cramlington was and Graham drew a blank and said something like “I don’t know, I just drove where I was told”. He had no trace of guilt on his face but it was obvious he wasn’t telling me something. He didn’t act guilty whenever I mentioned it, he just smiled briefly and literally didn’t say anything on the matter.
Graham said afterwards that he thought he had everything covered in secretly driving to Stockton (where my parents lived at the time) in traditional pre-proposal parents-permission pageantry. He had set up the cover story with his brother. He had checked that my parents were going to be at home and asked them not to tell me that they were expecting him to visit. However, my dear hubby, whom I sometimes (lovingly) call the human Gantt chart, had failed to allow in his plans for the fact that he was proposing to a fruit loop.
To say that I was intrigued is an understatement (if I can spend so much time on the ITU/ICU mystery, imagine how much time this took up!). As Stockton was an 80-mile round trip, I had dismissed a parental permission trip as an explanation as one can’t rewind the odometer for the extra miles (despite what Roald Dahl tried to teach us).
My fundamental conclusion was that I trusted Graham implicitly (and still do, I might add). I thought that the mystery was probably something to do with his brother, in which case I figured that Graham would tell me if and when he could.
Thankfully, the mystery was short-lived (less than two days) because Graham proposed on Friday 13 August (Alan Shearer’s birthday).
I suspect that Graham either considered (or should have done!) a Turner Proposal Palindromic Abandonment rather than pressing ahead with the binding Turner-Cole trade treaty we ultimately signed. Graham maintains that he didn’t think twice about carrying on. On the contrary, his stress surrounding the incident caused him to bring forward the big question by a day in a bid to stop himself imploding. He had been completely flabbergasted that the weirdo was even weirder than he had realised; convinced that I knew that he was going to propose; and, generally terrified that I might reject his proposal.
Still, all’s well that ends well. Graham dived in with his eyes open notwithstanding a last-minute reminder of one of my eccentricities that might have made others run a mile. You have to love Stockholm Syndrome.
In any event, he can laugh about the whole thing now (six years on). Just!
PS This was the day after the proposal: