Skip to main content


Last night I became a grandfather. Naomi Yin-Leng was born to my daughter in law Charmayne and son Nick in Sydney at around 11 pm our time, and suddenly the world is no longer the same.

Thirty something years ago Nick was born in Christchurch, the first of our three, and the world changed then, too. Up until the moment he came blue and reluctant into the world he had been a possibility: a squirming bulge in Clemency's body. He had been imagined and read about and even viewed as a grey fuzzy blob using the steam and treadle powered ultrasound scanning machines of the 1980s; but nothing, absolutely nothing had prepared me for the experience of holding my first born, and looking into his eyes and having a person look back. In that instant the whole miracle of  Being presented itself; in the space of nine months the exquisite machinery of a human body had been formed, but more astonishingly still, a consciousness was now present within it. In that instant the boundaries of my self collapsed in the delicious uncertainties of love in order that they might reform again around him. All the intelligence and inquisitiveness and inner strength which have marked his life since were present in St. George's hospital that early morning. They didn't grow, he arrived with them.

And so with Naomi. She too has been a possibility: an exciting secret last Christmas then a series of reports from the obstetrician then some ultrasound pictures, albeit of an infinitely higher quality than Nick's, then a growing bulge above Charmayne's belt line. We have known her name for some weeks now, and even known something of the contours of her face; but then last night she was suddenly a very present person, as much to be considered and with as much right to command my love and attention as any other member of my family. Again I was unprepared for the reality of her. In the middle of last night, the boundaries of my world shifted to accommodate her, as I moved up a row in the generational hierarchy, one more tier further from youth, one more tier closer to infinity.

So now it is shuffle around time. I need to see how my timetable can be fiddled with, like one of those puzzles where you move the numbers on the little sliding plastic squares into their proper order, so that the blank space falls on a couple of days where I might be able to nip over to Sydney. I have seen her, even if it is only Skype but I do have an urgent need to know the touch of her skin, and the tightness of her grip on my finger and the exact weight of her tiny but determined little body in the crook of my arm.


Anonymous said…
Congratulations, Grandad and Granma!

Is your daughter-in-law Chinese?

Kelvin Wright said…
My daughter in law is an Australian of Cantonese descent. Naomi has Pakeha, Australian, Chinese, English, New Guinean, Scottish, Maori, French and other cultural streams she can legitimately call her own.
Anonymous said…
Great. My wife is half-Chinese, but the only "cultural" stream this has given our kids is the expectation that their parents will stump up lots of cash on Chinese New Year (which they do). But at least they can use chopsticks. I've tried suggesting filial piety and reverence for elders should be part of their "cultural" heritage but they're not convinced.
Much joy in your new role, revere(n)d grandfather!

Elaine Dent said…
Congratulations. Hop over to Sidney soon!
Verna said…
Congratulations to Grandad and Grandma. She looks so gorgeous. Hope you can shuffle things really soon so that you can get to Sydney!
Wynston said…
Welcome to the grandparent club. It's a great experience.

Susan said…
Congraulations Kelvin & Clemancy on the arrival of your wee grandaughter. I really appreciate what you wrote,which was beautiful. Allan & I were present at our grandson's birth. It was very special being there. Grand children are really special.

Susan of Invercargill
Eric Kyte said…
Congratulations to you All

Special times!

Not Quite at the point of Grandparenthood, Yet :), but the point about Skype really resonates. I Do wonder if in this technologically advanced age we too readily acclaim its gains without adequately mourning its losses.

The Gains are VISIBLE, shouting at us left right and centre.

The Losses hidden deep, found in Silence.

Echoes of Wisdom? - Where can She be found in this age of knowledge?
Gillian said…
Congratulations!!! How wonderful (literally)!!

Kelvin Wright said…
All the same, Eric, even though it's not really the same as being there, I'd rather Skype than no Skype.

Popular posts from this blog

The Matter With Things. 2

  Last night I finished reading Iain McGilchrist's The Matter With Things, Our Brains, our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World , the biggest book I have ever read, in all senses of the word "biggest". Back in 2017 I wrote about books which had been important to me , and, however I would recompile that list now, The Matter With Things would go straight to the top. Really. It's that good. I've read every word: no skipping or coming to and realising that my eyes have been glazed over for the past ten minutes. It's taken me a couple of months to engage  with its 1300 or so pages of text, and, as well, there are another couple of hundred pages of  appendices and bibliography (well, OK, I haven't read the bibliography). At the end of the book proper there is an epilogue which is a "so what" chapter in which McGilchrist speculates about the implications of his hemispheric theory for the world in the immediate future. This epilogue is preceded by a

Camino, by David Whyte

This poem captures it perfectly Camino. The way forward, the way between things, the way already walked before you, the path disappearing and re-appearing even as the ground gave way beneath you, the grief apparent only in the moment of forgetting, then the river, the mountain, the lifting song of the Sky Lark inviting you over the rain filled pass when your legs had given up, and after, it would be dusk and the half-lit villages in evening light; other people's homes glimpsed through lighted windows and inside, other people's lives; your own home you had left crowding your memory as you looked to see a child playing or a mother moving from one side of a room to another, your eyes wet with the keen cold wind of Navarre. But your loss brought you here to walk under one name and one name only, and to find the guise under which all loss can live; remember you were given that name every day along the way, remember you were greeted as such, and you neede

En Hakkore

In the hills up behind Ranfurly there used to be a town, Hamilton, which at one stage was home to 5,000 people. All that remains of it now is a graveyard, fenced off and baking in the lonely brown hills. Near it, in the 1930s a large Sanitorium was built for the treatment of tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments. It was a substantial complex of buildings with wards, a nurses hostel, impressive houses for the manager and superintendent and all the utility buildings needed for such a large operation. The treatment offered consisted of isolation, views and weather. Patients were exposed to the air, the tons of it which whistled past, often at great speed, the warmth of the sun and the cold. They were housed in small cubicles opening onto huge glassed verandas where they cooked in the summer and froze in the winter and often, what with the wholesome food and the exercise, got better. When advances in antibiotics rendered the Sanitorium obsolete it was turned into a Borstal and the

Turn Sideways Into The Light

David Whyte speaks in his audio series What To Remember When Waking of the myth of the Tuatha De Danann. They were a mythical race from Ireland's past who were tall, magical, mystical people devoted to beauty and artistry. When another more brutal people, the Milesians invaded Ireland the Tuatha De Danann fought them off in two battles, but were faced with a third, decisive battle against overwhelming odds. So, lined up in battle formation and facing almost certain defeat, the Tuatha De Danann turned sideways into the light and disappeared. Whyte's retelling is, to put it mildly, a gloss, but I am quite taken with the phrase and with the phenomenon it describes. Turning sideways into the light is the realisation that there are some encounters that are damaging to all involved in them: no one wins a war. Faced with such an exchange, to turn sideways into the light is to seek another, more whole form of relationship. It is to reject the ground rules of the conversation as they


I arrive at the door, wondering if I have to pay admittance. I've never been an event photographer before and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. The young woman at the desk looks up and smiles.  "Oh, we've been expecting you. Come in " she says. She stands and I follow her into the foyer where the show is set up. I put my large camera bag on a table and glance around. There are children everywhere, and someone in a rainbow costume is singing and playing her violin, and radiating seemingly inexhaustible energy from the small stage at the front.  "Rainbow Rosalind" says my host. "She's fabulous, isn't she?" "Yeah. Great."  Who could argue? Who would want to? She's fabulous. "Is there anything I can get you?" she asks. "Coffee? Tea? The friands are actually very good. " "Ahh, no... I'm all good thanks. I'll just get on with it. OK if I put my stuff here?" She smiles and goes back to