When I first moved to Canada I was so excited: it was to be the beginning of so many new adventures and projects.
I was leaving New Zealand and my family and my big city job to move halfway across the world to start a new life with my new fiance!
I was also launching myself into a retail business that I knew nothing about.
I should have been scared shitless but I wasn’t at all. I was exhilarated by it and extremely confident I was making the right decision.
That all turned to jelly pretty quickly.
I had no car. No stuff. And Jim had to go right back to work because he’d neglected it badly while we were in transit.
And to make matters worse my mother was taken to hospital while we were in transit.
And it got worse.
Five weeks after I arrived we were on a flight back to New Zealand – racing to her deathbed.
So when I got back the second time I was a mess. I don’t honestly know how Jim managed to hold me together.
My confidence was non existent and I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything or meet anyone and I kept very much to myself. I think it was the inability of anyone to understand because they hadn’t KNOWN her.
One day Jim got a call from a friend to ask him to build a computer for an old customer of his. Jim said he was slammed and couldn’t take it on but suggested that I might like to build and load it. So a meeting was arranged.
I remember the day I met Eileen.
She was a sweet 80 year old English woman. She had white curly hair and a flawless, practically unlined face and she reminded me of my Grandmother, and my mother.
We bonded immediately and I built her computer, helped her choose a screen and then taught her how to use it.
Eileen was as sharp as a tack – a very intelligent and well educated woman. But she sucked at computers.
I became her technical support.
I used to joke that I had made .25c an hour because I charged her very little to begin with and never charged her for service phone and house calls.
Truthfully I think we got it down to .o5c. And it doesn’t matter one little bit.
Over the past couple of years Eileen’s health deteriorated very badly. She had an inoperable heart condition and her breathing had become ragged. She was in and out of hospital and got very frustrated.
Her keyboard quit and she called me. I gave her a loaner keyboard while I sussed out what was up with her old one and she said she might like a laptop.
So we got her a laptop and that annoyed the hell out of her because she couldn’t get used to “all the changes”. She was just worn out.
I heard today that she’d passed away at the weekend. I went straight over to see Frank.
But he knows it was her time.
Still, after 65 years it’s the strangest thing for him to look across the room and see her empty chair and slippers.
Sixty five years married.
RIP Eileen. You were my first friend in this country and I will miss you.