(True story, only names have been changed as a matter of courtesy to my friends )
What an unusual item to get in the mail, a large glossy photo of what appeared to be the front cover of a woman’s magazine, with my girlfriend Shirley smiling out at me and promoting an expose on what happens when a patient is asleep on the operating table. I was horrified albeit intrigued, she is a nurse this seemed so unlike her, the patient confidentiality had always been an integral part of her make up.
It took me a few days of trying to locate the magazine and then reading the many little by-lines of what appeared within, that brought about the realisation that it was in fact a fun invitation to her sixtieth birthday party. I was so happy to hear later that I was only one of a great number confused by this particular invitation.
Shirley and I had belonged to the same sporting club some fifty years ago until I married Pedro and shifted away, only to accidentally meet up again at a local school fete about twenty years later and discover we lived only a few kilometres apart, from that day on we were constantly visiting back and forth, our husbands got on together and became great mates, even our children who went to the same school became firm friends.
It was well after the kids had all left school and entered the work force that Shirley and John divorced and she shifted away. It is so difficult when one is friends with both parties in a relationship but they no longer get on. Visits became very staggered. John would often call in for a coffee and a chat, Shirley would do the same on a different day. It was a difficult path to tread but thankfully our friendship didn’t waver.
Shirley eventually married Fred, so with them living in the inner city area and both working full time it had been quite a while since our last contact. Walking through their door and getting the warm welcome hug from both Shirley and Fred was the beginning of a wonderful evening, catching up on old acquaintances we had met during her previous marriage. Each of her three children, all adults now, two with children of their own greeted us as one would a favoured aunt and uncle they hadn’t seen for a few weeks, rather than the twenty odd years that had lapsed.
One woman guest caught my eye and I said to Pedro, I remember that face … but I couldn’t for the life of me remember her name or where I had come across her before, Pedro of course was no help. During a lull in the festivities she approached me, You are the one that makes that beautiful coleslaw … and has a daughter with problem feet aren’t you? after meeting her at a party twenty years ago, that is how I am remembered!
We left the party feeling rather humbled but very pleased with how the evening had unfolded, the only void being, John couldn’t make it because of work commitments, (having been quietly informed that both Shirley, Fred and John had become firm friends over the years because of the children).
On the drive home Pedro asked had I overheard the conversation between himself and Shirley’s son Graham. I hadn’t, so he went on to say he couldn’t believe it when Graham came up to him, clasped his hand in his, shook it vigorously, then told him that he had never forgotten what Pedro had done for him so many years ago,and wanted to thank him properly.
Apparently the teenage Graham wasn’t interested in school, so with his parent’s permission Pedro obtained an apprenticeship for him where he worked and Graham did very well. One weekend about two years later Graham had an horrific accident resulting in a smashed up arm, It required a steel plate to be inserted. His leg was also so badly damaged he had a steel frame attached to it from thigh to ankle, keeping it immobilised and enabling it to heal straight.
He was in hospital for months, and while there received regular phone calls from his work mates. He relayed to Pedro how comforting that was to him laying in the bed for such a long time. He then confessed that he had discovered Pedro had compiled a list of his friends, and every day went around to one or another and offered them the privacy of his office so they could make the hospital call. he would then put a mark by the callers name and the next day repeat the same offer to the next on the list, continuing thus for the duration of his hospitalisation.
Graham wanted to make it clear to Pedro just what it meant to him and how very much he appreciated it. Thereby the wisdom of the man expressing that which the unsure teenager couldn’t.
Little things do mean such a lot.