She became a nurse and she was a good nurse. Actually a great nurse and she married a doctor and when their daughter died from leukaemia she couldn’t do anything to save her. She felt that she had failed as a nurse and she felt that she had failed as a mother and in the end she failed as a wife.
Her husband looked on in frustration because she could not allow anyone to reach her, particularly him. She had a breakdown and she recovered from her breakdown but all her happiness had gone. All her resilience had gone. Her desire to be a real person went as well.
She would get cross about little things. She got cross about dishes left on the sink or socks not put away. And she got cross about the Government. She got cross about big things but she didn’t do anything about any of it. She just got cross.
One night there was a report on the TV about “Men’s Sheds”.
“Why do you bloody men have a shed to yourselves? Somewhere to run away and hide in. A bunch of geriatric misfits with no real life of their own. “
She started to build up more and more anger. She read up about Men’s Sheds and deep down she was envious but she didn’t know that she was. It was too deep down and it was blinded by her anger.
“I am going to join a Men’s Shed. If they don’t let me I’ll go to the Equal Opportunity Ombudsman and kick up such a stink they’ll wish I never existed.”
“And if you go in with that attitude it’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You might be cross and think it’s wrong but you are still the same intelligent woman I married. Go in there and be polite and put on a ‘nice to meet you’ smile and see where it gets you. And if it doesn’t work then I’ll be the first to start your fight for you.”
She drove around to the Men’s Shed and walked in.
“Ducks on the pond” someone called. Not in anger just a statement.
She put on a small smile, nodded at the one who had called and said, “Quack”.
He came over. “Sorry dear. We don’t get many girls in here these days. What can we do for you?”
“I’d like to join. I know I’m not a man but I looked up the Men’s Shed website and it doesn’t actually say that women aren’t allowed.”
Some of the other men stopped what they were doing and came over. There began a general discussion. Two of the men were definitely opposed to the idea. But one old fellow on a wood-turning lathe said that he though it might be nice to have a few ‘young girls’ around.
She looked around at the shed as the men went on talking. It was a lot like her father’s shed but tidy and the tools and machines were all new. She noticed a welder like her father’s but in the same area were a couple of very modern welders. She wandered over and looked more carefully.
She hadn’t touched a piece of steel since that day when she threw all her things in the dam.
“What do you want to do?” She jumped and turned around. He had walked up quietly behind her. He was a quiet man.
“The boys have had a bit of a chat and we would like to know if you’d be happy if we said you could join for one day a week. You see this is a haven for us but old Jack over there is a retired lawyer and he thinks we might be in trouble if we said a straight out “No!”.
She nearly cried and a lump came in her throat.
“I’d love to learn to weld again,” she said.
And she learned to weld again and she made her first sculpture by the end of the third day.
“Hey you blokes. Come over here and see what Miss Wonderful had done. Just look at this. My goodness this is good enough to go into a gallery.”
It wasn’t good enough to go into a gallery but it nearly was.
Soon the men started asking her about things outside of what they were doing. A sort of woman’s aspect on things that they never talked to their wives about.
But the best day was when one of the men, one who had voted against her joining the Shed, said, “Goodnight love. See you tomorrow!”
It wasn’t a question. It was a straight out invitation. From that day on nobody said anything about one day a week. From then on she was a member.
And she stopped being cross and angry with the world. She started being happy with herself. She was back. She became herself again and she worked at becoming a wife again.
Part Three continues the story tomorrow.