Tuesday, 19 February 2013
The Park Bench
It was a beautiful morning, crisp and fresh with the hint of summers passing and autumn bustling in and we were sitting comfortably together on the park bench.
Friends for many years, we didn’t meet as often as previously as Pam has gone to live with her eldest son and his family. Instead of what used to be a regular monthly lunch with Jo and Ann, now there were only two of us left.
Sadly, Pam’s husband Tommy had also died and Pam just couldn’t move on. We had tried for nearly three years to assist Pam in accepting her lot in life and looking at the future as a new chapter, but for Pam the book of her life ended in her eyes that awful day when Tommy died.
We had watched Pam’s spirits fail as she lost interest in the world around her. Jo also had health problems but managed to keep her many activities going as best she could, then Ann died quite suddenly and shocked us all.
“The first one to leave our group,” Jo had said at the time. “We always thought it would be you, Jen, when you were diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Jo meant no harm. I knew after the breast cancer, to them, I was the obvious first choice. But I’m still here, and now Jo has gone too.
“Jo and Ann and many of our friends have died too, don’t forget,” I said aloud, hoping to move Pam off her favourite subject of Tommy dying and leaving her all alone. “Their husbands and wives are getting on with life, Pam. You have to move on too, it upsets me so much when you keep talking about Tommy. He was a dear friend to Max and me and we miss him too.”
“I have moved on,” Pam snapped back. “On to Ferral Gully with Paul and Martina and the girls, shoved out the back in the granny flat.”
“Well, Pam, it was partially your fault you know. You were not looking after yourself, they were worried about you and you offered no resistance when they invited you to go and live with them at Fern Tree Gully. Jo and I told you not to make any rash decisions. There were other options.”
“I know, I know,” said Pam. “I took the easy way out. If I could just meet another man who is as lonely as I am,” she sighed, “someone who would look after me like Tommy did. I would move in with him in a flash.”
“Oh my! Pam, I have never heard you say that before,” I replied. “When did you start thinking along these lines?”
“Ever since Tommy died,” Pam answered derisively. “I had no intention of being left high and dry. I always used to have plenty of male friends before I married. No worries, I thought. I would meet someone quickly when I was left alone.”
I sat there stunned. This was a different story. We had been hearing for years there would never be anyone as good as Tommy and now this.
“I hardly know what to say, Pam,” I spluttered. “You are a dark horse.”
Pam turned to me with a wry smile at her lips and said, “Oh well, you lot always thought you knew everything, but you didn’t. I just sat and listened, laughing my head off quietly to myself.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “We shared everything together, we have known each other for over thirty years. Are you saying you had a secret life?”
“If only you knew,” Pam chortled. “I‘ve tried a number of dating sites but nobody has been as attractive to me as Tommy and most of them are just looking for a woman to look after them.”
“Well I never,” I gasped.
Just then, a gentleman came up to where we were sitting and said, “Good morning, ladies. May I sit on the bench with you? I won’t intrude.”
He had a refined voice and was very smartly attired in black shorts and lime polo shirt and Nike sneakers. He had a European look about him, lightly tanned complexion and silver hair neatly groomed and a heavy gold chain at his throat.
As he sat, he put the ear piece of an iPod back in his ear and said, “There’s nothing like Verdi’s Four Seasons to match a day like this,” and he sat back with a look of contentment on his face.
I leaned in a little closer to Pam and whispered, “Here’s your chance, Pam. Go for it. You obviously know how to.” Then I stood and said loudly, “Bye Pam. Sorry I have to go, my dentist appointment you know. I’ll see you soon,” and briskly walked away desperately wanting to look back but I waited until I reached a large old oak tree I could step behind.
I tentatively peeped out and was shocked. Pam and the gentleman were laughing loudly and he had his arm around her shoulders. I was stunned. That was quick I thought. Then, suddenly, he leant over and kissed her lightly on the cheek, stood up and reached out to assist her to stand and they walked down the path together holding hands.
My God, I thought as the penny dropped. She knows him and I bet they had arranged to meet. Pam knew I had the dentist appointment. She set me up to show me she wasn’t as helpless as we had all thought after all.
I could ring her neck, but most of all I wish I could ring Ann and Jo and tell them.
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