It is Monday and I know we need shopping and feel I could go with Mr Mason if we drive. We just go to the local Sainsbury’s and park on the first floor. There are 3 lifts at our local branch, 2 for customers and 1 for Sainsbury’s ‘colleagues’. Pressing the lift buttons brings all 3 but I am just a tad slow and so Mr Mason is in a lift with the doors closing before I realise it. He doesn’t leave me stranded, though, but presses the button to open the doors again and when I get in, I realise there is a woman in there who is shaking her head in barely suppressed fury. As we get to the ground floor, she stomps off, still shaking her head and muttering. I feel strangely drawn to her. Mr Mason goes off to buy some disposable containers for putting our own meals in the freezer (and, all too often these days, my leftovers as my appetite is pretty poor) and I wander into Sainsbury’s with my trolley thinking “I will seek that woman out”. I don’t know why I do it, really. I suppose there is some need to make a connection and to pass on some information rather than wisdom. Anyway, she is fussing at the fruit section and I walk up to her. “Excuse me” I say, politely. She ignores me. I say it again, this time laying a hand gently on her arm. I get her attention. “I couldn’t help but notice you were a little frustrated by my slowness at getting into the lift earlier. I just wanted to let you know I am having chemotherapy for terminal cancer and so I’m not as agile as I’d like to be.” “I’m in a hurry!” she snaps. I understand that but I want to give her a moment to pause and be aware and, perhaps thankful she is not in my position. I want her to realise we spend so much time rushing and being stressed and that maybe she could re-evaluate her situation right here and now. I am clearly expecting a lot. I tell her I just wanted her to know and maybe understand. She just looks at me like I am a lunatic and says again, emphatically, that she is in a hurry. I smile and say “OK”. She still looks frustrated and cross and she really does not want to make a connection with me. She is a middle-aged woman dressed in black lycra from head to toe and then she says she is going to a funeral. I give her a long look and say “Aren’t we all” before turning away.
I cannot understand people who don’t want to make a connection. It feels totally alien. I connect with people all the time, whether it’s a smile or holding a door open. It is just about recognising our human nature and acknowledging the other person. Animals do it all the time and I think it makes the world go round a little more smoothly. When I first had hair after my last bout of chemotherapy, I was walking along the road when a young woman, sitting at a cafe, shouted out “Hey – I like your hair!” It wasn’t the compliment that made me fizz inside, it was the connection. Maybe I am not being articulate enough in my explanation but I wanted the cross woman to soften and to be more than a cross woman in black lycra. She wasn’t having any of it and maybe on another day she would have been different.
We shop and buy a trolley full of treats for the next few days as Mrs Lavoll is coming to stay. Treats include sausages, ice cream and chocolate. Sausages in Norway, Mrs Lavoll’s home country, are not the same as ours. They are like frankfurters and full of smushed up meat. After living in England for many years, Mrs Lavoll has gained a taste for English sausages, particularly Cumberland although we are also trying to convert her to Lincolnshire. Another mystery is why the Norwegians do not have coleslaw. Given their predilection for open sandwiches with cold meat and fishy caviar, it seems extraordinary that they have not gone for coleslaw. It seems it just does not exist in Norway. Periodically I suggest Mrs Lavoll starts to import it and become a coleslaw magnate but she seems surprisingly reluctant to change her career in this way. We spend a lovely couple of days together but my energy levels are already dipping and my sleep becoming fractured. I have lots of mouth ulcers by this point and spend quite a lot of my day showing them to anyone in the house. I am a child at heart. But Mrs Lavoll is a friend who would, and has. flown over from Oslo just for the day to hang out and eat Thai food. Just the thought of it makes me smile.
With the weather becoming increasingly hot, Dog wanders in and out of the house at will. We put a rug down in the garden and he lays on it, sunbathing. Having his roots in the Sahara, it is not surprising he likes to sleep in the sun but when he comes up to me for a random bit of attention, I am immediately drawn to what looks like blood on the side of his face. He doesn’t seem bothered and lets me gently dab at it with some damp kitchen towel. Mr Mason and I look at it and worry at where he could have sustained an injury. I remember giving his lovely face a scratch earlier in the day when I was laying on the sofa but definitely don’t remember seeing blood. And this blood seems to be dark pink in colour rather than red. Hmmmmm. It is Mr Mason who does the Sherlock Holmes thing and says “Raspberries”. Of course. Dog has laid in the garden and put his big old head on an errant raspberry and squashed it and the juice has seeped into his fur. Dog is oblivious to this and just thinks we should continue paying him close attention and scratch behind his ears……..just there. Aaaaaah.
I am touched by all your blogs Shelley. Xxxxxxxxxx
Thanks, Mo xx
I was very touched by this blog Shelley. Making true connections is a strong and rewarding feeling which can last a whole day and sometimes a lifetime. I think Lycra Lady sitting in the church will reflect on your connection and will have been touched and possibly changed by it. I’m sorry the chemo is having such a painful effect already. Xx
I’ve been reflecting on this. What we never know is what’s going on in other people’s – including strangers like the woman in black’s – lives.
When we are in our bubble/our world and focusing purely on that we may be unable or unwilling to connect purely because we are so intent on that moments purpose which seems vital to us.
Maybe she just couldn’t deal with what was going on in her own life at that moment in time – and her only coping mechanism was therefore to be rude and dismissive?
Not exonerating her – but maybe giving her the benefit of another day she might have been different…
I totally agree. Just because I’m in that space and she isn’t doesn’t mean she is always like that. Another time, another place….who knows? xx
On reading this I personally felt I would have liked to have made a connection with ‘the lycra clad’ woman. Unfortunately it would be with my foot up her backside. Just how rude are people ? xx
Thanks, Lisa. I genuinely don’t understand people who don’t connect with others, even in a most superficial way. I think it’s what makes the world go round. Maybe she thought about it later, though…..or maybe not! x
I applaud you for trying to make a connection with a person who was in a mood like the woman in black. That’s a hard one to make.