The Napier Grandparents raising Grandchildren group invited me to attend the Christmas lunch with members of this support group. A flight from Auckland down to Napier was upon one of those little planes, I felt quite chuffed as my allocated seat was 1c and no one was sitting next to me.

I noticed sign on the seat. It stated, that this seat was in an emergency exit and was I prepared to assist staff in case of evacuation. I would need to be able to open the 26 pound weighted door. I read this sign perhaps 3 times and looked at the instructions on the door. I took into consideration that I was a little old lady and not very strong. I looked plaintively for the air crew woman. But she was busy elsewhere. I glanced around the half full plane and saw several strapping young men and figured if something was to happen they would step in.

We landed safely in Napier on a very hot day to meet our new family members. Our GRG co-ordinator picked me up and we proceeded to leave the car park. She popped in her exit ticket but had failed to pay for it at the airport. A car had pulled up behind us and had to move as we had to reverse back into car park. They went through and she said, “Has the arm barrier come down? We could just drive out behind them!” This had the beginnings of a very interesting new family I was yet to meet! The barrier started to descend as she approached it, so back to pay for ticket.

Yep they do things differently in Napier!

We arrived at the local RSA where they were holding their Christmas lunch. It was delightful to meet the grands of my new family that I had known (only by phone calls) for many years. A delicious and very humorous lunch was enjoyed by all. No mentioning false teeth here ladies! (Which one character proceeded to pop on the table). The table also had bowls of chocolates and after they had finished theirs the group co-ordinator decided to dump the left over ones in my handbag! I was beginning to wonder if I would need to jump the fence to get away with the stash!

Yep, they do things differently in Napier!

I said my goodbyes and was driven back to the airport, as we approached a pedestrian crossing with two people waiting. My driver did not stop. Instead, she said, “Sorry people, but we are important.” Laughter abounded. Our co-ordinator sat and waited with me until boarding time. We noticed a beautiful private jet arrive and we went through who it could be…..David Beckham? Tom Cruise? John Travolta, or John Key? We both decided if it was John Key, we were prepared to run out on the runway and inform him of GRG issues. But before anyone alighted from the said jet, I was called to board. The question I would like to know is:

Has our co-ordinator ever been seen again? Did she enlighten John Key on GRG issues, or is she still at the airport trying to get out of the car park?

Yep, they do things different in Napier.

The flight home saw me in need of a tissue. Digging deep into my handbag for one, I felt something very sticky. Yes, those chocolates my wonderful new family had gifted me had melted in the hot Napier sun. I smiled as I tried secretly to remove melted chocolate from my fingers, and thought, yes they do, do things differently in Napier, but I know this branch of our family will not be dull.

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Diane Vivian is the founding member and chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ. When in 1997, Diane Vivian took over the care of her small, traumatised grandchildren, she could not believe the stress she encountered. Setting about to discover what help or support was available in 1999, she found there was none! The organisation formed to meet this need salutes all Grandparents/kin who have taken in Grand/kin children and put the needs of those precious ones before their own.

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