Saturday, January 12, 2008

'The Man' Tales - A Friend For Life

My little battle with cancer had not been the first time the bartender had endured a major illness with me. During the first year of our relationship I had to have a hysterectomy. He did not spend much time with me during that either, and it is only now that I am wondering what he had been doing during that time.

As the year of doing nothing slowly ticked away, so did my bank balance. With the bartender’s memory problem that had set in as soon as I acquired the money, it was easily spent. No wallet - could I pay for the gas for his car? No wallet - could I pay for the meal. No wallet - and here we are out shopping for a gift for his family! He’ll pay me back – sure.

Before I sold my house I had bought a knitting machine and had fallen head over heels in love with it. I loved all kinds of knitting, and anything to do with wool. However, the one thing I couldn’t find was coned yarn to go with the knitting machine. With that in mind, and with the need to work looming over my head, I went to the bank and asked the loans manager for some money to help me set up a wool store. One thing I learned – when the loans manager asks you if you think you are asking for enough money – say no. It is never enough. Don’t be humble and shy – it doesn’t help in the long run. Money does.

I then approached my uncles who owned the building where my Grandfather’s office was once located. His office sat empty and I could still envision what it looked like as a coal office, but better yet, I could imagine what it would look like as a wool store. They agreed to rent it to me cheaply and we set about building a store. I have no idea why, but the bartender and I were happy together during the building period. He had some good tools for working with wood and between the two of us we turned the small space into my first wool store. If I stood at the front door and looked across the tracks, I could see the hotel where I worked and watch my former customers go in and out. On the day I hung up the “Now Open” sign – I hoped and prayed for a different life entirely.

One Saturday, after the end of a long and tiring week, I was keeping my eye on the clock in the hopes that watching it would make the day end faster. Dressed in a pale blue knit dress and fuchsia heels, I turned wearily towards the door as it opened and another customer came in towing her young son behind her. I chatted pleasantly with her and listened attentively as her son told me he was going to become a truck driver. She browsed the yarn and the machines, looked through some patterns and examined the coned wool. We chatted about knitting machines and I listened patiently as she told me how many she had. But! I just wanted to go home and my feet were killing me. The shoes were gorgeous, but it had been a long week. I heaved a sigh of relief when I locked the door behind them and shut off the lights.

The next Saturday, she was back. And the next Saturday and the next! She claims I was quite hoity-toity when she first came in and she vowed she was going to wear me down and become friends. Twenty-two years later – we still are – the best of friends. Something great came out of that horrible period of my life and I treasure her. I still have the shoes.

10 comments:

Lane said...

I'm amazed that you managed to set up and run a business in the midst of that relationship. All credit to you Aims for keeping a sensible head!

That's so great about your friend. She obviously saw something special in you:-)

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I have to agree with Lane. Amazing. Or did it become a needed and necessary distraction from everything else that was going on?

Bless your friend's heart. The fact that you're still friends is wonderful.

Marla said...

It is strange how some friendships develop. I can't believe you had a hysterectomy and he was no help at all. I don't know if I could have made it through that surgery alone.

Breezy said...

What a strong woman you are. Please tell me you are turning a corner of some kind here

I Beatrice said...

Are we sailing into quieter waters Aims? I do hope so! That was a lovely piece anyway, which I very much enjoyed. (PG not too many more horrors to come!)

That happier piece reminded me of my mother and her spinning wheel, in New Zealand years ago. Lots of sheep there of course (you know the old joke, more sheep than people!) and she would actually collect clumps of raw wool from fences etc, then clean, tease, spin and knit. I think it must have been a very satisfying process - and I still have a pair of her long, creamy-white socks...

For my own part, well I took my grand-daughter to a pantomime last night. Cinderella. Her first pantomime (and mine too as a matter of fact) - she laughed and laughed all the way through, and so did I. The people next to us said they enjoyed her laughter almost more than the show itself!

Now, I think she'll be writing her first pantomime script...

Lola said...

I'm still coming back to your blog, and I'm glad of some good things happening in your life at this time. Although I'm prepared for more uncomfortable times, at least I'm assured of the happy ending!

softinthehead said...

Aims - really good friends are hard to find so I am glad she wore you down. A wool shop of the kind you describe has always been one of my dreams. I loved knitting, don't do enough of it now I need glasses, but don't you find there are just not enough "enjoyable" wool stores like yours in North America?

Tina said...

Phew, I feel like I can breathe again, just for a while.

Marvellous writing Aims.

aims said...

Lane - I needed something - anything - for me. As for the friend - she really is something special too.

RC - It was my life raft in a stormy sea.

Marla - I know exactly what you mean.

Breezy - well - eventually.

Dearest B - My friend and I learned how to spin together. We would take our spinning wheels and head off to a nearby church where the course was being given and then cackle like old hens over the mistakes we made. We still both spin - it is the most relaxing and enjoyable craft that I know of.
Sounds like fun with the grand-daughter...

Lola - I'm glad to see you popping in - when are the exams finished?

SITH - It is really hard to find a 'good' wool store now. Michael's has taken over everything and it is so disappointing. I am fortunate to have a woolen mill about 40 minutes from me. I go there and breathe in that wonderful smell - and load up the car with bags of wool! I just can't help myself!!

Tina - At least for a little while.

Lola said...

Exams finished yesterday - yaaay!