Fridays were the worst. I would spend the morning baking dozens of banana chocolate chip cookies. Once we got the phone call, E would go to bed and I would go for a walk around the village. The kids wouldn’t be home from school for a few hours.
Normally, I am not big on shopping and do not miss that part about city living. One store in particular which I enjoyed had pretty merchandise, soothing back ground music and was filled with gorgeous scents. I didn’t have a lot of money but if there was good news from the morning to celebrate I might buy a piece of their home made fudge or a little something for my daughter’s bedroom.
On the Thursday, E would have had a heart biopsy. The cardiologist went in through his jugular and took a small piece of his heart to analyse. It was the only way to monitor if the disease destroying his heart had returned. If there was no sign of disease, E was a candidate for transplant. If the disease was back his name was removed from the list. This routine went on for seven months.
It was 1999 and I hadn’t had my haircut for months. My usual hairdresser was in the city. I needed a new one now that I was at home on stress leave. I walked past a men’s barbershop in the village. It had recently been renovated, with a woman’s salon in the back. A lone young woman was puttering with her tools, no clients, bored. She welcomed me to a chair and a twenty year friendship began.
You need to remember I hate chit chat, am terrible meeting new people and am at best awkward when talking to cashiers, waiters or hairdressers. It’s not that I am rude, I am just “shy”. Yet this woman was unusually nice. I was lonely and her personality was irresistible. She got me chatting and somehow the topic of this island came up.
She said “OMG, I know that island well. We go there all the time with my husband’s best friend. One time”, she continued, “he lent us his cabin for a weekend before we were married. It was off season, no one was around and I had a medical emergency late in the evening. My husband, then boyfriend, ran to the neighbours and knocked on their door. The wife was so nice! She helped me and calmed me down with a cup of tea while the husband figured out how to get us off the island.”
Although we didn’t know that many people on the island, I was enjoying the distraction from my worries and asked what their names were.
“Warren and Helen” she replied. Warren and Helen were my in-laws. This hairdresser, who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, was good friends with our island neighbours and, although my mother in law had died almost four years earlier, remembered her vividly and could not speak more highly of her and her kindness.
I immediately went home with my awesome new haircut and phoned my father in law, who was living on this island full time. He, of course was humbled that their efforts continued to be so appreciated.
I honestly don’t remember if I have told you this story before. Maybe after all this time I have nothing left and am repeating myself but the lesson bears repeating in these covid days.
When you are long passed from this mortal world, those you have touched with unselfish kindness and generosity will continue to speak of you with respect and love. In 2020, generosity and kindness, couldn’t be easier:
Wear a mask