“We’re our own worst enemy,” said Wolfgang. “We’re, also, our own best friend.”
Chapter 54: Best Friend
Tonight was the last Dementia Unit dance class. Wolfgang was in fine form and had been talking nonstop. “I like making a noise,” he joked. “I should have been a politician. Do you know that I come here every morning to have breakfast with my Madeline?”
“No,” said Gabriel. “That’s devoted.”
“Dementia patients are a bit like drunks,” said Wolfgang. “Some are sad drunks. Some are angry drunks. My Madeline is a happy drunk. I get more kisses and hugs when she sees me than all my married mates put together. I’m not convinced that she always knows that it’s me she’s kissing but I take it anyway,” he laughed. At the end of the class, Wolfgang said, “We will miss you both.”
“Here’s another kiss to add to your collection,” said Amira kissing him on the cheek. It was really only Wolfgang who would miss them because everyone else was unlikely to remember. Perhaps, that is a saving grace, thought Amira. What we cannot remember, we do not grieve.
Gabriel and Amira stood at the end of the long hospital corridor. Once they opened the outside door, it would be cold and both would immediately head for their cars. No one was around so they took the opportunity to talk in hushed tones.
“How are you going?” asked Amira.
“Great,” said Gabriel. “I’m great.”
Amira saw a little ant pushing a crumb, much bigger than itself, over the expanse of the walkway. He’s a brave, little soldier, she thought. Telling herself that she had nothing more to lose, she said, “I’m not trying to hurt you, Gabriel, but, much of the time, you act like I am.” Gabriel was not going to tolerate the conversation for long. “You expect a great deal of loyalty,” said Amira, “but your mind is so changeable that your own loyalty is fragile.” Gabriel looked at her with a combination of hurt, anger, and indifference. Safe to say, none of those emotions was going to help.
“Bye,” he said walking off.
“Don’t worry, love,” said a voice in the partial darkness. It was Wolfgang. He would have unintentionally heard the conversation. “We’re our own worst enemy,” he said. He looked back to the Dementia Unit and added, “We’re, also, our own best friend. You gotta have faith.”
Chapter 55: Open Door
“Where do you go with Rose?” asked Grace, one afternoon, while locking up her Darnall Arcade shop. It was not like Grace to ask a personal question uninvited.
“Would you like to come too?” answered Amira.
“If that is alright?” said Grace.
“You only had to ask,” said Amira.
Each time Amira went to Advaitaguru’s meetings, it was different. Sometimes, there were only a few participants. Other times, there were many. Sometimes, Amira knew many of those in the audience. Other times, she knew no one. Always, it was Advaitaguru speaking, although, on occasions, he simply stood out the front saying nothing. The meetings never lasted more than ten minutes or so. In the beginning, Amira only went to the meetings when Rose met her at the sliding doors of the Darnall Arcade. However, after a few visits, she started walking there herself; down the side street, into Narrow Lane, and then into the back door of the ivy-covered building. When Amira and Grace got to the door of the unmarked, brick building, it wouldn’t open.
“That’s strange,” said Amira. “It always opens.” She could hear people speaking inside so she knew that they were in there.
“It’s me,” blurted out Grace as if she was exposing a long-held secret. “They won’t let me in. I’m not good enough.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Amira with no sympathy. Not knowing what else to do, she suggested, “Let’s try again tomorrow.” The next day, on the way to Narrow Lane, Amira said, “The way is not narrow. It’s wide. Everyone is welcome, Grace. However, we have to know that we are welcome or we keep the door shut ourselves.” After a pause, she added, “There is no one better than you.” To Grace’s delight, the door opened.
“I don’t want to disappoint you,” said Grace, “but I couldn’t see or hear anything.”
“You will,” said Amira. “Probably, there are lots of things going on in that little room that I can’t see or hear. They give us as much as we will take.”
Chapter 56: Homemade
Bryan and Teresa had happily settled back into their relationship. Both had been hurt, although, neither had purposely hurt the other. They picked up the pieces, left behind the blame, and started again with their eyes forwards.
“Bryan and I have been talking,” said Teresa to Amira, one morning, in the Curiosity Shop. “As much as you and I love the old books and curiosity items that your great aunts kept in this shop, there is no future in it.” Amira loved sitting on the floor and rummaging through the yellowed books but she knew that the current shop was not viable from a business point of view. Besides, she did not feel comfortable having her great aunts coming and going in spirit form. Wherever Evanora went, trouble was bound to follow. If the books and paraphernalia were gone, most likely, the sisters would be too. “Bryan has been discussing an idea with his mother,” continued Teresa. “He feels that there is a market for Clarice’s handspun, homemade wool products.”
Bryan’s family farm was a mixture of sheep and cattle. The sheep were shorn once a year. During shearing season, the workday would start at 7.30 a.m. in the tin shearing shed. The day was divided into four runs of two hours each. Smoko breaks and lunch punctuated the runs. The shearers were paid per sheep. Those who tallied more than two hundred sheep per day were known as gun shearers. The fastest shearer in the shed was the ringer. After the shearers removed the wool from the sheep, the fleece was thrown onto the wool table, skirted, rolled, and classed. Then it was placed in an appropriate wool bin, pressed, and stored until it was transported.
Some time during the second run of the day, Clarice would appear. The shearers would look at each other with a silent groan. They would never outright disrespect the boss’s missus. Besides, she always brought freshly baked cake with her. Clarice would watch the shearing with sharp eyes. She would make sure that the floor was kept clean and that they did not throw the fleece onto patches of oil. She would point out, repeatedly, that they shouldn’t do second cuts. She would then pick out the best wool for her home projects. As she walked back down the ramp of the shearing shed and headed for the farmhouse, the men would smile at each other and return to their more manageable charges.
Back at the house, Clarice would get to work on her chosen wool; sorting, teasing, washing, drying, combing, and dying with natural colours. She had a great pile of used tealeaves for the purpose of dying. She would, eventually, spin the wool into yarn on her spinning wheel. Clarice said that spinning was the most calming thing she ever did. It was meditative, not that she would use such a word, herself.
For the purposes of the shop, the intention was to sell Clarice’s skeins of naturally-dyed, handspun yarn. They would, also, sell products knitted by Clarice and some of the women from the Waldmeer Country Women’s Association; baby moccasins, slippers, throws and cushions, toys and teddies, and an assortment of vests and jumpers. They were going to be discerning about what they sold. They wanted the shop to be classy and cultured, not a place for all the remnants that couldn’t be sold at the country fairs.
One clever, young lady in the C.W.A. was a talented weaver of wall hangings. She was the only young member of the group. Her name was Rachael. The older women mothered her, fussed over her, bossed her around, and taught her weaving traditions passed down from their mothers and grandmothers. In return, she gave them her youthful energy and her spirited artistry. That artistry was going to give the shop an upmarket, vital edge. It only took a few weeks and the Curiosity Shop turned into a vibrant and flourishing business with the new name of Handspun.
Box by box, Amira packed up the old books and curiosity items and drove them to their new home; her bungalow. The bungalow hadn’t been occupied since Gabriel used it as a country art studio, several years ago. Much of his art equipment was still in it. Amira felt that her four great aunts would follow their belongings to the bungalow. However, she was confident that they wouldn’t come into her Waldmeer house. They can live in the bungalow until I work out what to do with them, thought Amira.