Mrs. Maiden

Mrs. Maiden may be my favourite customer. I can't quite remember how old she is, but I'm sure we delivered some wine for her 90th birthday in the last three years. She's legally blind and quite near legally deaf. She wears those big sunglasses design to fit over prescription glasses. They were big in the eighties. She uses a white cane almost as an afterthought. Her manner in the shop is exhilerating, she knows what she wants and continues to enjoy them. She laments, with good nature, her son-in-law finishing off her single malt. She smiles when we recommend something new and different. She loves her walks around the town and still being able to enjoy small tipples, be it a small dram, a wee sherry, or a small glass of Burgundy. When she takes her shades off there is a sparkle in her eyes - while they don't let much light in these days, they certainly still seem to give it off. When she recalls her heydays in the 20s, 30s & 40s there is no sense of longing, regret or displacement, just a joy at the time she had and the people she spent it with. She keeps herself interested in life and while she's not able to do anywhere near as much as she used to, she makes sure she enjoys what she can do. Considering how active she is now, I think she must of been almost hyperactive in her youth. There is a sense of sadness sometimes when she thinks about how much she used to do, but never resignation. There is diginity and genuine joy in her life still.

And she's leaving. Her son-in-law and daughter are moving to his family seat in the Borders. It is the first time I've genuinely seen her sad when she mentioned this. She doesn't want to go, but cannot live alone and would rather be with her family than in care. Her new home in the Borders is a significant estate. Sadly it is remote, and her favourite pleasure, her daily constitutional, becomes too dangerous. The library van comes round only once a month. She won't be able to shop on her own, as she can no longer drive. But I take heart that still smiled and told me that she would find something to do.

She will. She has survived widowhood, the slow loss of her sight and hearing and the rest of the ailments of old age with vigour. She's a vivacious spirit and will find enjoyment until the end.

It's been brilliant to know her these four years. Her enthusiasm puts many half or even a third her age to shame. If I make it that long then I hope to take that much pleasure still in life. All the best to her. She will be missed.