Dec 01

Granny’s Wee Pet Hen

Hayley Elizabeth Fullerton my youngest grandchild born 6th October 2008 changed my life forever, she was my wee pet hen, my playmate , I treasure every minute I spent with her in her short little life.

Hayley arrived home to my house just before Christmas 2008 and took over, there were  prams, changing station, two baby gyms,  toys, blankets, just beautiful chaos. We carried her everywhere, she was so tiny I used to check I had her in my arms, it was never discussed but whoever was in charge of Hayley  never left her on her own, she was involved in everything and knew our daily routine. Hayley slept all night, we had to set the alarm to waken her for her bottle, she was a perfect little baby, loved by all her family.

Hayley only had one Christmas on this earth, what a day, it was all I could do to get the turkey wrestled into the oven, Hayley was awestruck with all the preparations, the turkey was four times bigger than she was, it was the same colour, and granny was assaulting it, she had coal black eyes and they were like saucers, but she knew she would get a lick of something sweet out of the baking bowl when mummy wasn’t watching. Sunday dinner was roast and Yorkshire puddings, I used to put an extra egg in the mixture so they would rise really high, Paula would have Hayley on her lap watching them cook, she would get so excited, she would sit at the dinner table nibbling a Yorkshire, with her finger poked through another one. I have never been able to make them since Hayley passed away, it is just too painful.

Hayley loved a story, we had books piled everywhere, she could turn a page from she was no age, and only one at a time, if it was two she wasn’t long  going back. I used to come back from grocery shopping and Paula would have Hayley on her knee at the table reading recipe books, turning the pages, looking at the pictures her face no bigger than a Satsuma. Hayley and I had our favourite books she knew them off by heart, she loved her musical nursery rhyme books, every so often I would kiss the nape of her neck and she would snap the book shut on my fingers,  she was listening to the story and didn’t want to be disturbed.

No one was allowed to dress Hayley on their own it was a pleasure to be shared. Her cousin Kirsty would take Hayley to the wardrobe and pick out her clothes, god love it she never grew out of any of her wee clothes, at six months she weighed six pounds, seven months seven pounds  and when she left us at thirteen months she weighed thirteen pounds, but she was one smart cookie, she always knew what our next move was going to be. Kirsty would dress one side of her and I would dress the other, Hayley used to eye up the outfit, she knew whether it was an over the head job or not, she preferred buttons or poppers, we would spend ages doing everything  we were so lucky to be able to spend all that time with her. When she was dressed she knew Kirsty would take her round the hall to the full length mirror and tell her how gorgeous she was.

While all this was going on Paula was organizing Hayleys expedition to the town, the pram, sun umbrella, rain cover, baby bag, blankets, Hayley had been watching, she knew she would get out through the back door eventually, she was happy to watch us run around after her. Finally Hayley was strapped in, the three of us lifted the pram down the steps, one of us stayed with her while the other two ran back into the house for something important, like her bottle, she knew she was on the home straight when Paula and I waved bye bye and the wheels started to turn, she was off. Paula and I would always run to the front window and watch Hayley looking in every direction, we would laugh and say how nosey she was, she would look at the traffic coming in both directions, look at the people coming out of the park, the nursery and the car wash. Poor Hayley she was storing as many memories of grannys house as possible, when I walk out to the road for the bin, I wonder can she see me and does she know how lonely and empty the house is now she is gone.

Hayleys Australian aunts, uncles, and cousins came to visit before she went to Birmingham Childrens Hospital for her open heart surgery.  Hayley was a Fullerton, her cousins said when they got back to school in Australia that the best part of their holiday was meeting their wee cousin. I am so glad they met Hayley but so desperately sad she never had the chance to  see them again. We were going to have a big family

birthday party for Hayley after her surgery, but Paula decided we would have a birthday party with the (circus) the Australians. It was short notice but I booked the Slieve Donard hotel.  We had the best table in the house,  it was a very special day, the weather was beautiful, Hayley was gorgeous in her party clothes smiling at everyone, loving all the attention. what we didn’t know was Hayleys days on this earth were numbered.

The Clark Clinic and Dr. Frank Casey looked after Hayley so well I cannot thank them enough, the care and attention they lavished on Hayley and all the other children was exceptional, I truly expected nothing less in Birmingham. I never knew what fear was until I seen Hayleys  lungs failing and no one would listen to me. Consultants, Doctors, nursing staff, everyone  I pleaded with dismissed me, I felt like an old stupid granny. Every day I used to come to the hospital full of hope Hayley was going to get back home, she did, yes but in a tiny white coffin in the hold of a plane.  The Clark Clinic had taught us so well, any change in breathing tell the staff, I did that in Birmingham, her head was bobbing she was struggling to breathe, they said it was on her notes and they had seen worse. Dr Ben Anderson was Hayleys main contact, he never seen a problem, Dr Oliver Stumper, two days before Hayley died knew her lungs were failing but left it to somebody else to sort out, they didn’t, he explained it as a non verbal communication, dear help us all. When Hayley died a part of me died as well I had  pleaded for her life in vain.  I miss her so much it is a physical pain in my heart, the most difficult task is trying to act normally, I have lost my way in life, never again will I trust experts or show them any respect, that  has been taken from me, like my Hayley. I know she is in heaven, but I just want her back with her mummy and her daddy




Hayley wasn’t really into dolls but I got her a cloth doll suitable for babies, it was right ugly and she never noticed it. I always had Hayley propped up with a pillow in her pram in the kitchen while I made the dinner, there was never a word out of her as long as she could see what was going on. I spied the doll in the corner so I told Hayley this was her baby sister, I made a huge fuss of it rocking it in my arms patting its

bottom and then gave it a big kiss and put it in the pram beside Hayley, I told her to look after it as well as I looked after her.  I turned round to check the potatoes when I heard a thud, poor dolly was face down on the floor. I comforted dolly to make it better, the fall hadn’t improved its looks much, so I tucked it in beside Hayley and put the blanket round the pair of them. Hayley looked me straight in the eye and with one hand dolly was torpedoed out of the pram. I found that doll  not so long ago, its still in my house and Hayley is in heaven .

Spring time arrived, Hayley never had a cold or chest infection, if anyone in the family had a cold, sore throat, or flu they knew to stay away, her cousin Gary rang one day to say  he couldn’t come for his dinner, he had a sore throat. I went to the local opticians, I had my hand on the door knob, the door slightly opened, when his assistant told me not to come any further, she had an infection and didn’t want to give it to Hayley,  she said she valued my custom, but come back another day. The next thing I was standing in the street, I told Paula when I got home, granny getting no new glasses, we were very impressed, people cared about our wee Hayley.

Hayleys first visitors were my aunt and uncle, she knew something was going on, she was getting passed around like a rugby ball, the front room was cleared of all the tat, her toys and clothes all tidied away, there were china cups and wee buns, Hayley was so excited. We got her dressed up, combed her hair, now something important was definitely going on, we never had time to comb Hayleys hair, we were too busy playing with her. I held her in my arms at the window so as she could see the car coming into the drive, she was looking at me, her wee legs kicking like mad, this looked  like fun. They brought presents for every one Hayley  never took her eyes of them, she showed off all afternoon, smiling, letting them nurse her  squawking louder than anyone else so as she was part of the conversation, loved the noise of a china cup and saucer but when she seen them putting on their coats to go home she was not impressed. I left them out to the car, coming up the back steps I heard her howling, Paula had her in her arms Hayleys legs were flailing about, we knew she was fed up looking at us all day and now she had  seen all this excitement she wanted more. I carried her round the hall  and let her look into the rooms, she had her wee hand out pushing the doors wide open trying to find my aunt and uncle. I met Hayleys granda at the back door when he came home from work and handed Hayley over Paula and I were knackered.

My brother and his wife were Hayleys next visitors, we reckoned we wouldn’t have the same trouble as it would be Hayleys bedtime before they left, and Hayley loved her cot, how wrong we were. Hayley enjoyed all the attention, sat at the table watched them eat their dinner, they took it in turns nursing her, she hadn’t slept all day and we could see she was getting very tired, so Hayley was dressed for bed , she spent ages kissing everyone goodnight and off she went, five minutes later she was back, she had started to howl as soon as Paula put her in the cot. Four more times Paula took Hayley up the stairs and four times she came back, the wee pet had more encores than Pavarotti. Hayley  joined the crowd again, dear love it, she didn’t stay awake too long, she tried her best but sleep got the better of her, she was flat out in no time and carried up to her cot. In future Hayley was the last guest to leave the room.

Hayleys daddy travelled from Australia seventeen times to see his wee daughter, we used to worry Hayley would be strange with him, or not recognise him, no problem there Hayley knew her daddy.  He would take her for walks in her pram, she enjoyed every minute she spent with him. They went to Belfast Zoo one day it was absolutely freezing, Hayley was well wrapped up but her daddy wasn’t, when they arrived Bob was looking for the monorail to get to the top, now the Zoo is on the cave hill, so they huffed and Puffed  the whole way up and spent the rest of the day in the coffee shop Hayley enjoyed all the company She wasn’t interested in the animals.

Hayley only had one easter on this earth, we went to Bangor. We packed two cars and set off early, I sat in the back with Hayley and held her hand  the whole journey, she would never let go. She didn’t like the countryside but perked up when we came into Downpatrick, there were buses and tall buildings, lots of people walking about, and when we stopped at the traffic lights she would push herself up to get a better look. Hayley knew she was on holiday when we were in Bangor she would look out at the marina, the swing park and the ducks, she knew her mummy would be taking her out in her pram and she would see them all close up. I would stand at the window and watch for them coming back, I would wave and  Paula would wave back, I knew she would be telling Hayley granny  was waiting for her, I would imagine Hayley  and I walking  hand in hand to the swing park, going to the shop and buying sweeties all simple things lost forever.

On Saturday  Paula and Hayley went to the flagship centre, there was entertainment and plenty of people about. I  spent the day clearing up, happy in the knowledge Hayley was having lots of fun. I looked out the window as normal and seen them flying up the walkway, I put the kettle on, it looked as though Hayley was due her bottle in a rush. The door opened and I took one look at Hayleys wee face, it was as white as a sheet, her eyes were standing in her head, and on her cheekbone was a red puncture mark. Paula didn’t look too good either. She said Hayley was attacked by a cockatoo, it went straight for her, well I never heard of cockatoos flying about Bangor, then in the next breath she said, I let her pet the boa constrictor but I washed her wee hands . There was an exotic animal exhibition at the centre, Paula always liked Hayley to be involved in as many life experiences as possible, she noticed  the cockatoo eyeing Hayley up,  but she knew they were in trouble when the cockatoo squinted one of its eyes, cocked its leg, and headed straight for them. Poor Hayley got poked in the cheek, the cockatoo got tangled  in Paulas hair as she tried to save Hayleys eyes, the poor child was in hysterics as the trainers tried to  rescue the pair of them. They assured Paula all the animals were vaccinated and the child was in no danger. She told them the child was waiting for major heart surgery, and she was going to have to ring the hospital. I said I would tell Hayley a wee story,  while Paula got in touch with the Clark clinic. We lay back in the chair, Hayley looking up at me, I smiled at her and told her “you think  cockatoos are  nasty, wait till you get to Australia,” grannys going to tell you her exotic animal stories.I told her the day her mummy and me went on a tour of the Great Ocean Road, we seen the twelve apostles, one fell into the sea after we left but it wasn’t our fault, then we stopped at a memorial site, where a boat full of men, women, and children, seeking a better life in Australia, had perished just off the coast, in sight of land. It was a nasty rocky area ,so I climbed down to get a better look at the beach. I seen a bit of movement in the undergrowth, took a wee look, the next minute being my calm self , let a roar out of me, telling Paula, there’s something horrible in there looking straight at me, and it has a bake on it  like the sole of an old boot. Paula was so excited she said it was a Platypus she had never seen one the whole time she was in Australia. I took to my heels and run, the sand was very fine and I was knee deep in it, but I climbed back up and on to the coach, not that there was any relief from the heat on it. It was a brand new coach, first time out, and the air conditioning wasn’t working.  Paula had checked on me a couple of times on the journey to see if I was still living, I wasn’t too sure myself, it didn’t help matters much that every turn in the road the bus went beep, beep, beep right under my seat. I had a word with the Italian driver and told him if he didn’t sort them beeps out I would, he said  he would add it to his snag list..Every one boarded the coach and we headed to our next stop, don’t know where it was, but it had the dirtiest toilets in the world ,and I mean that ,cause I have been everywhere.  It was a lunch stop, and I ordered fish and chips, I ate them hoping I would feel better. Paula sat down beside me asked me what sort of fish I’d eaten, I showed her on the menu,”I didn’t know you liked shark,” dear help me, I thought I was in Hannas chip shop in Kilkeel.

Meanwhile, I could hear Paula laughing on the phone to the Clarke clinic, all was well then, Hayley was wide awake, grannys stories never put her to sleep, she wanted more and started kicking her legs.  I told her about granny and the apartment we rented on Broadbeach, right on the ocean.  I was on the balcony one morning when I noticed very large black patches floating in the sea right outside, I didn’t know what they were, but the surfers were all out, we were on the 14th floor so I had a really good view, channel 7 and channel 9 news helicopters were flying about, but I passed no remarks, there was a Surf Life Saving championship starting later. I made myself a cup of tea, and on the way back I thought I seen a fin in the ocean, then I seen more fins where all these black patches were, how was I to know they were shoals of bait fish, and the sharks devour them. The following scenes were like the film Jaws, the life savers were down at the waters edge trying to get the people out of the sea, the tourists were out pronto, they were running up the beach like the devil, but the surfers wouldn’t come out, the sharks were too busy eating the baitfish to eat them, finally jet skis were used to chase the sharks away before the competition started. I never dipped a toe in the ocean, I stayed on dry land.

Paula came into the room and said the Clark clinic had never had a patient attacked by a cockatoo , they  said Hayley should be ok, and had a good laugh, it could only happen to Paula and Hayley. Paula went off to the milking parlour, (expressing her milk as it all had to be measured), while Hayley and I lay up in the corner, her wee body in the crook of my arm, waiting for more stories. What I would give to be able to do that now. I told her about one Sunday afternoon, there was an awful commotion on the beach, I  seen the ambulance arrive, it looked like a child on the stretcher, I found out later, the wee pet had been bit by a sea serpent, I told Hayley she could play on the sand with a bucket and spade, but never go near the ocean. One day Paula rang me and told me not to go near Main Beach, some man had the back of his leg ate by a shark, now the chances of me going near any beach was remote I was going to stay in the shopping malls. I told Hayley about another exotic animal who  lives in Australia, the crocodile. I had read in the local paper about a middle aged couple who went camping  beside a river , the husband got ate, she went back the next year on his anniversary to the same spot, and she got ate too. Hayleys bottle was ready so I fed her, she loved her bottle, she spent the whole time looking into your eyes, I kept quiet, she looked really settled, her wee eyes were back to normal. I would take her for a walk in her pram on Easter Sunday around the local area ,we were going to the Easter parade on the Monday, I had never been so it was a first for all of us.

Hayleys cheek was still red but there was no swelling or infection, so Sunday afternoon Hayley and I got ready for our walk. She loved coming down in the lift, it was quite a squeeze, but she knew she was going out. We headed along Pricetown Road there wasn’t a soul about, we walked the whole length of it and seen no-one, so I said to Hayley we will take a short cut to the Marina, I had been so busy talking to her I had walked into someones drive, and was standing at their door, poor Hayley thought she was going to see  someone at last, I told her smile and look cute, while I hot footed it up onto the road, hoping  nobody seen us. Hayley  never  got another chance to walk the Princetown Rd with her granny.

Easter Monday was a lovely sunny day but cold, Hayley knew she was going somewhere nice, Mummy and Granny were getting all dressed up , the preparations went on all morning, Hayley was a vision in pink so off we went. The walk along the marina was beautiful, there were lots of visitors, Paula had just lifted Hayley out of her pram to get a better look when a Japanese couple came over and asked could they get a photo taken with Hayley, they told her how gorgeous she was, I think that’s what they said, all they could say was photo, but we were as proud as punch. We headed  for McKees clock, I was to pick a good vantage point while Hayley and Paula walked about. Paula always carried Hayley like a kangaroo and her joey, always to the front, so she could see as much of life as possible. I rested myself against the wall, pram in tow, as soon as the crowds surged, I pushed the pram like a tank and was positioned at the front, perfect viewing. It took a while for Paula to find me, and Hayley enjoyed pushing to the front, we were early, but everyone else was early, the place was packed. I noticed a pregnant women on the other side of the road, she looked very uncomfortable, and this fellow was running up and down the road in no particular direction, I said to Paula “ she’s  in labour,” sure enough, the fellow appeared back with two policemen, they got a motorcycle escort  to the hospital, Hayley had slept through it all. Finally the parade started, the Mayor  of Bangor was in an open topped carriage, he was purple, the cold wind coming from the sea would have cut corn. We got Hayley wakened, and what a spectacle, we never seen the like of it, there were floats, easter bunnies, easter chicks , marching bands,  at one stage I shouted “Paula duck”,  luckily she did, a giant papier -mache bumble

bee was heading in her direction, and missed them by inches. There was a break in the proceedings, Hayley was due her bottle, I got out the thermos flask full of scalding water and poured it into a jug, you never seen people clearing as quick in all your life, the bottle was heated, Hayley downed it, ready for the second half. We all had a lovely day, poor Hayley just one Easter  on this earth, a lovely memory, but I just want her back.

The weather was getting warmer,  we would strip Hayley down to her nappy, she loved being naked, eating in her high chair, cheerios sticking to her body, Paula and I would lie Hayley down on the sheepskin rug and wrap her in it, all naked, I told her when she got older she would  be ringing Granny to warn her about naked pictures in magazines. Hayley enjoyed it all. I was always telling her she could fit in a bag, so one day there was a Pennys brown bag in the house, she let me put her in it, she knew it was fun, and mummy and granny would laugh at her.

Kilkeel health centre was so good to Hayley, when she needed her injections, they would bring us in early, before they seen the sick people, so as Hayley would be safe from infection, the health visitor Shauna was still visiting Hayley until  she passed  away.  Once we were in Bangor and forgot about her coming to the house, she came, seen everywhere locked up, blinds all drawn, launched an investigation to find out what had happened, Dr Woods worked out we were in Bangor, that’s what I call care in the community.

I woke one morning in June and said to myself, if something ever happened to Hayley where would we bury her, the thought had never entered my head before, but it wouldn’t go away.  I finally rung my brother and said I had something to ask him, but couldn’t say it, finally he said to spit it out, I said to him if Hayley died would it be alright to bury her with her great granny, he was quite shocked but said he would look into it. A few days later he rung back to say  that was alright, it was never mentioned again.

Sunday afternoon was a special time with Hayley, after lunch it was my shift. I would take her round to my bedroom, Hayley would lie down on the bed with her back to me. I would pat her wee back and legs, peeping over her shoulder I would watch her tugging at the rosebuds sewn on the bedcover, she tried every week to get the threads apart , she finally  succeeded and had one in the palm of her hand. I lifted her on to my knee and she shut her wee hand tight hiding the rosebud, I rubbed the back of her hand but she never opened it. I lay her back down on the bed again and as soon as she had her back to me she opened her wee hand to get a look. I watched her like a hawk, she pulled the spare threads off, stroked the rosebud, as soon as I opened my mouth her hand was shut tight. I let her play with it for ages, but finally I had to take it off her, I told her if a rosebud was stuck in her neck, I would get the blame. Hayley would sit on my knee and look out the window, she loved to watch the neighbours, when she got bigger she would wave at them, and if there was a fly on the window we would follow it about all evening, she once got quite close to a big blue bottle and didn’t like it one bit. I couldn’t cope with weekends after Hayley passed away, my best friend came up with a great idea, go out for a meal every, yes every Saturday night, you will be exhausted on Sunday afternoon, she was right one late night kills me. Sunday after lunch I just pass out, when I come round its six or seven o’clock and Sunday is almost gone.

I decided we needed extra concrete laid out the back so as Paula could park the car closer to the back door. It was all floated and finished  when I had this overwhelming urge I wanted Hayleys footprints in it, I lifted her, took her out and put her wee feet in this gritty stuff, she wasn’t too happy said nothing but it was too wet and the footprints didn’t take. I was still determined it had to be done so I got Hayleys daddy to tell me when the concrete was ready. Poor Hayley was dragged out again, her big cousin Kirsty told me the towel I had wrapped round her was damp, bad granny, but Hayleys daddy done a great job, he wrote her name and the date 11 8 2009 Hayley passed away on the 11 11 2009, exactly three months later. I have my own personal memorial for wee Hayley. There are plenty of parking spaces now, but no Hayley.

Hayley and I were watching Pingu the penguin on television one day, I told her me and her mummy went to Philip Island and seen the wee fairy penguins and some day we would take her with us. We were back in Melbourne again so the men could see the grand prix, I was walking  down the street one day when I seen, two men trying their best to run, one shouted to the other in a thick Irish brogue, “Be Jeysus Paddy its twelve o’clock”, I never heard  anyone say that in Ireland so to come to the other side of the world and hear that said  in authenticity was soo funny. Sunday was race day  so Paula and I were going to Philip Island, we were in the hotel lobby waiting for the coach when the hotel duty manager came over and handed us two red wool blankets, and told us we would need them later, the reason we were in the lobby was because it was as hot as an oven outside. We looked at these two double bed blankets in horror and I said “Paula dump them behind that sofa but she said don’t you dare, the duty manager was smiling at her. As we walked towards the door this Italian guy asked us were we two Ferrari chicks, me a chick, an old boiler maybe, he thought we had two giant red flags to wave at the race. The coach pulled up and on we got, everyone had wee strappy tops on, and we had two big blankets. I told Paula I was going to leave mine on the coach, but she threatened me, we had to transfer to a different coach and bring our red blankets. with us. We had a lovely day, we were absolutely sweltered and had forgotten about the blankets until we arrived at Philip Island. It was late evening and dark, our tour guide told us the fairy penguins would be arriving on the  beach later they had been out at sea all day and came in at night, there were seats for everyone but it would be very cold and for everyone to wrap up well, you never seen two people grab blankets as quick in all your life. Every one else was foundered except us, we wrapped the blankets round us as warm as toast. Finally the penguins came out of the sea, up over the sand and under the boardwalk, there were hundreds of them all heading back to their young with plenty of food, they all had their own wee nests and were squealing with hunger. Hayley will never see the fairy penguins on Philip Island

Hayley had only one summer on this earth. The fun fair comes to Bangor every year, its always packed with children and Hayley loved it. I would take her in her pram, she would watch the children eating ice cream she never had one, Paula was so careful with Hayley, we were scared of her getting germs or an infection. I said to Hayley one day it wasn’t fair every one else was licking ice cream except her, she was looking at all the other children enjoying  this special treat. I looked round to see could Paula see us from the apartment, I reckoned we were ok, so me and Hayley joined the ice cream queue. Her wee face looked up at me, she started kicking her legs, she knew granny was up to no good. She watched the children in front of us getting ice cream her eyes were like saucers as they started licking. Finally it was our turn, I was waiting for a tap on my shoulder any minute, well maybe a thump. I asked the lady for a small ice cream please, Hayley watched it swirling out of the machine, raspberry sauce squirted over it, I asked for a small spoon, and said this was her first ice cream, the lady put her hand in a big plastic bag and  lifted out a spoon, I looked around panic stricken if Paula seen where the spoon came from I would be dead meat, finally the ice cream was in my hand. I told Hayley we would have to find a bush to hide behind in case her mummy was about. By the time I got myself sorted out the ice cream had started to run down the side, I licked it and poor Hayleys mouth started to water, as soon as I scooped ice cream on to the wee spoon Hayley had her mouth open, she swallowed it immediately and opened her mouth for more, Hayley and I enjoyed that small ice cream more than anything else in the world, I knew it was a special moment in time. Big tears run down my face looking at that bush from afar, and I think of a very precious little girl who only ever had one ice cream. I told Paula what I had done after Hayley passed away, she said Hayley always had a knowing look about her when they passed an ice cream van. Life is so cruel Hayley didn’t ask for much, she knew she was loved and cherished, she never stood a chance in Birmingham, I pleaded for her life in vain, and I will take that burden to my grave.


Fly high little one, rest in the arms of the angels.

All my love, Granny Stevenson.xxxxx