It has been a long wait, but Albert is here. Long awaited. Longed for and here. 

Albert lives with his mother and father in Auckland. A grandmother hovers. Ah, the joy such a small bundle can bring. Albert is just begun. He has already clocked up an impressive three months. 

Albert is my grandnephew, but he can call me Grandy, more a moko than a nephew. His mother more a daughter than a niece.

Three weeks ago, at the time of writing, Auckland moved into level two. Gloved, masked, sanitised and sanitised some more I finally met our beloved baby. A miracle of love, life and family. 

Finally, I was able to hold this blessed bundle, smell his newness and allow a few tears to flow. Seemingly before I had arrived it was time to go.

The getting into Auckland was easy, it was the getting out that challenged. 

My sister lives in a glamourous high-rise apartment with breath-taking views of the city and beyond. Bunking there for the night was not a hardship and now it was time to head back to the realities of life on a farm.

A last hug and the lift whispered me down to the tranquil granite-lined, tropical plant-filled foyer. Huge wall to ceiling, gleaming glass doors beckoned me forward.

A discreet button pointed ‘tap to exit’. I elbow tapped. Nothing. I tapped again. Slight mechanical noise. I tapped again and again and by the tenth tap I threw the elbow out and finger stabbed. I suppose I was a good twenty stabs in when I decided that this swishy, swanky piece of Auckland architecture was just a pile of rubbish and I would have go back up to my sister’s floor and get some help. 

I wanted to go up but the elevator was not of a mind to grant me that wish. Down certainly, but up? Certainly not. I retreated into the menacing, granite foyer with the threatening flora. I looked around. Nobody anywhere. 

By now it was creeping towards 9am, the time I was meeting my friend Brenda Liddiard. I had bought a painting from her. She would be waiting.

“I’ll phone her,” I said. “No I won’t,” I replied, as I pictured my phone locked inside the car.

Looking around I noticed ground floor flats. I knocked on every single one of those feckers and no one was home. I tried another ‘tap to exit’. Liar. Then, as if in slow motion, a woman walked out of the lift. She was surprised to see a flustered old woman shuffling rapidly towards her. 

“I can’t get out! Can you let me out?” implored the old one.

“Oh yes,” she smiled divinely, “it can be a little stiff. You just tap this button.”

“Just tap it!” I said, keeping the maniacal look to a minimum. “Just tap it!? Yes, I did try that.” 

“Oh?” she puzzled as she tapped the button and … pushed the door…

Well I didn’t see that coming. Tap and push. No I didn’t see that one coming at all.

I thanked her and leapt into my car. Turned on the GPS but forgot the sound. Sound is helpful in a city raging with cars, red cones and workmen. No sound means wrong lanes and wrong lanes means upsetting Serena. Serena is the woman who lives in my phone.

One U-turn and a few special words later and I was back on track heading down Mercury Lane. I had been promised a parking building and there it was smiling its welcome. I smiled back and drove into its dark embrace. A little too dark perhaps. Hmmmm. A young man chatted by explaining that this was a residents-only building.

I smiled my thanks and headed back from whence I had come. One small problem. The whence I had come was now blocked by huge metal gates. Another wait, another rescue.

Just around the corner a Wilson’s car park beamed and asked its ransom. I paid. Collected my painting with a second one to keep it company and headed home. One wee stop at my ‘Why Knot’ shop and I was gone.

Can’t wait to see you again wee Albert. Can’t wait for your chuckles. 

And if I could, I would bottle all that security and love from your mummy and your daddy and your mormor and give it to anyone and everyone who could do with an extra hug. 

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