A beautiful lady appeared at the door. She was short and dressed for the chilly weather and she had a nice smile.
Hello I’ve brought my machine in for repair, she said. It’s in the car, would you help me?
I took a few steps over to her motor and the lady opened a rear door. Inside, on the seat, and with a seat belt strapped about it sat her sewing machine.
I leant in and unfastened the belt and carefully lifted the heavy machine from its mooring. I felt a sharp twinge in one of my shoulders – I hope you’ve remembered my ‘sore shoulders’…
The lady quickly followed me back into my store – not wishing to be too far from her beloved machine. Did she skip to keep up with me – do you know, I believe she did.
I placed her machine on the bench and – I think you and I, my friend, have reached the stage where the make and the model doesn’t really matter any more. The lady loved her machine as you love your machine but, perhaps, she loved it more for what it was that it gave her.
In this case the lady’s machine was an embroidery machine.
I asked her what was the problem.
Damage to the USB socket. I’ve seen it before.
She asked how long it would be and I told her about a week. Early February is a quiet time for us in the workshop.
Oh dear. I don’t know how I’ll manage without my machine for a whole week, she replied. It’s my lifeline you see.
The lady looked at me and I looked at her.
You see, my husband has Alzheimer’s and he’s also just been diagnosed with dementia.
I’m very sorry to hear that, I said. Having some idea of the journey the lady was taking and it’s inevitable destination.
I look after him all the time and I thought what with working all my life my retirement would be happy and we’d made all these plans but…Oh God can be so cruel.
As the words left her lips she threw up a hand to cover those lips. Sorry, she said. She swallowed and blinked and her eyelids reddened and tears welled in her eyes.
I was quiet. What can you say and what can you do beyond the usual.
The lady cleared her throat with a gentle and strangled cough – you know the sort I mean.
My machine is my escape, you see. And I love it so much.
The lady had composed herself now and she pulled her mobile phone from her pocket. She showed me a photo of a snow leopard beautifully embroidered onto a cream coloured cushion. I told her I liked it and I liked the quality of the embroidery and now the lady smiled at me again.
Then it was time for the lady to leave but she asked me for directions to the Trafford Centre – it’s a large shopping centre/mall about half a mile from our store. I told her the way.
She said, I get four hours off on Thursdays.
Good. I said. Buy yourself a coffee and a slice of cake. She gave me another smile. I wish I could have taken her there myself and bought her a coffee and bought her some cake.
Thank you, Alan. She said. Then she was gone.
She knew my name.