In the end, after worrying about how I would fill two weeks of space, it raced by in no time at all. I finished off my idyllic break, getting the royal treatment in the Boarding house, with one last trip uptown. Spending what was left of the cheque money I had been given, I shopped for Napier souveniers to take to the little kids at home.
After the Boarding house owner delivered me back to the bus depot, I took my seat for the homeward journey feeling a mixture of emotions. Looking forward to seeing my children, but also not very hopeful my pig headed husband would be in a better mood and we could improve our situation. My desire was for us someday to enjoy a Napier break together.
The children were happy to see me and enjoyed their presents. My poor elderly Nana, who had been bravely holding everything together, had damaged her back, slipping over on our wet hill, while hanging out the washing.
My husband quickly crushed my hopes of us getting any closer. Sadly, absence had not made his heart any fonder, he just carried on speaking only when it was essential. Sulking was now being taken to new levels by sending myself and the kids to ‘Coventry’, a term we flat kids had used when shunning each other, for extended periods. His not responding if spoken to by any one of us, for days on end, was becoming unbearable.
Each evening, on his return after work, he would totally ignore myself and the children. Choosing instead to greet with great gusto, our unfixed pedigree Corgi dog, (who spent his time roaming the neighbourhood for girl dogs). Then he disappeared into his shed up the hill, until bedtime.
Thinking maybe grief, and all work and no play, was affecting him, I used some secretly saved grocery money and a donation from mum, to make the arrangements for, a weekend return, to Napier, hoping it might help lift his mood. Perhaps some time-out together, our first time alone since our little girl’s death, might help us pick up the pieces and connect again for a new start.
On a Friday night, after he returned from work, I sprung my surprise. He did his usual getting mad and angry, keeping it up for so long I thought we would miss the bus. He only reluctantly agreed to come when my mum arrived to babysit, not wanting her to see his ‘other’ side.
Riding along in the bus, it was a lovely clear night with a huge, beautiful, golden, full moon, moving across the sky parallel to us, giving the illusion it was racing the bus. I was hoping God up in his sky was giving me a sign. However, for the whole three hour trip he continued, packing his sad. It wasn’t until late on the Saturday he was forced by necessity to speak. I was stumped, there was no breaking through into his world. His attitude made the whole trip pointless.
To help out with our money, I got a job working on the twilight shift, six pm till ten thirty, at the Feltex carpet factory, at Gracefield. A bunch of us ladies stood around in the dark underneath long rolls of new carpet passing overhead on a series of high rollers, trying to spot any light shining through, because that highlighted holes needing repairing. Whenever we found one, we hit the stop button and used our sewing guns to shoot staples of matching wool into the carpet, filling in the gaps.
At the end of our shift, there was no public transport available and the Feltex management provided a fleet of taxis to ferry all the ladies home again. One of those night rides home, I happened to get the front passenger seat, and got talking to the driver, Dave. Right off the bat we hit it off, and each time he ferried us Wainuiomata ladies, we carried on getting to know each other. He told me if I ever needed a cab, to ring his office and ask for his cab, number 28.