Monday, September 5, 2011

Last Days in England, Part 02

29 August

The Knit and Natter group had a farewell “do” for me. I was so touched. I had been telling myself these ladies were very gracious in accepting me, a foreigner, and that was all I had really hoped for. It was such a surprise to realize they actually LIKE me! I was doing their good hearts an injustice, for which I most heartily, most gratefully, and most joyfully repent.

It was a little tea, seven or eight of us, held at Joan’s flat, within very easy walking distance of ours. Joan is 90 years old, and she is the organizer of the group. We had tea with a lovely walnut cake and pastries, and we had a very good natter (as the English say) to go with it.

There were even some gifts! Joan gave me a bookmark she had worked herself in needlepoint; it’s white with dusky pink roses. Joyce gave me a small teddy bear for my grandson, Jackson. Jean knitted me a unique, frilly scarf in peacock colors.

I shall miss each of these dear ladies; never have met kinder or more congenial people.

31 August

This morning, one of our neighbors died. I’ve already mentioned Agnes, next door, and her sister Anna, a couple of doors down. Well, Anna’s son Paul died totally unexpectedly. He was away at the time, on holiday with a special tour for disabled people. Anna feels especially bad that she wasn’t with him.

We bought her some flowers and went over with Agnes in the afternoon.

We will keep in touch later in the week to learn how things are going. We don’t yet know what happened, so there isn’t yet anything more to tell you.

Later in the afternoon, Demetrios went to visit Margaret, Sister Margaret, one of the nurses who worked with him in the old days. He went to return two books she had lent us.

Which reminds me of something else I’ve forgotten to tell you. We met Mona Duggan, the author of these books, four or five of them now on the history of Ormskirk. She was having a book signing at the local bookstore, so we brought her our three books and two of Margaret’s to be signed. Mona is a lively, pretty, small lady, elderly, with short, white hair.

And as was signing the books, I noticed and commented upon the gorgeous ring she was wearing, six large, sparkly diamonds in a very modern, swirly setting. She said, “There’s a romantic story that goes with this ring; shall I tell it?”

“Oh, yes,” said I. “I’m always for romance!”

So she told us that when her husband died, she was completely at loose ends, didn’t know what to do with herself. She went on holiday with a tour group and felt quite lost. But a kindly gentleman took her under wing and thereby saved the day. I’m glad I restrained myself from asking whether he didn’t have an ulterior motive, because he clearly had! He invited Mona to accompany him on another holiday he already had booked, and she said yes.
“And we became partners,” Mona said. That’s the English way of describing shacking up.

Eventually they said to each other, this is ridiculous, let’s just get married.

But then he was diagnosed with cancer, so they didn’t.

“But you should have a ring,” he told her. So he gave her the money and told her to go pick out one, and she did, and this was it.

Demetrios gave her our contact information, in the hope she might one day use it, and just maybe she may, who knows?

The rest of the day, our last day here, we spent packing and housecleaning. In the evening Julia and David and James and Kim came for an hour or so, to say goodbye, as we leave for Greece early in the morning. I don’t know what David and Demetrios talked of, but the rest of us traded funny stories and had a lot of good laughs. They are all such fun!