Last Chance Saloon

Entry by: Olivia

27th November 2015
Last Chance Saloon

She knew that this time it really mattered. Well, it was supposed to matter each time but this time should be different.
The first one came from a place of youth and hope, from learned expectation and naivety. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they marry, they have children. Somewhere along the line she grew up. She found her voice. The misogynist ranks of an early 70s Cambridge college had kept her in check, had persuaded her that she knew nothing. It was quietly understood that she should leave the big decisions ‘to the men’ and she could take care of the trivia of everyday life. Influenced by what became ‘the early feminist movement’ she strove to have it all. She could still remember the impact on her of hearing her own voice at that first seminar. The euphoric feeling when people stopped and listened to her, discussed and debated. There was where she learnt that she was different to number 1 but not less than. She grew and blossomed and he stayed right where he was. His cold, logical mind thought in straight lines and facts and hers floated and drifted in a world of freedom and possibilities.
She was never quite sure why she filled the gap so quickly, but number 2 was considerate and kind. He helped her put herself back together. He picked up the pieces and made sense of them again, creating a whole that had enough strength to support itself.
But she dismissed him, on the instructions of aging parents, she deemed him ‘no good’ despite evidence to the contrary. She labelled him ‘inadequate’ and then behaved as if he was. She left him; she enjoyed the notoriety of walking out, the impact of the tiny flat after the big house. But she didn’t like the lonely nights, the half-finished crosswords and the absence of care. She reflected and realised; but shamefaced, she moved on.
Number three really was her last chance. He was younger, much younger. She fretted about how it would be in 20 years’ time when she was old and demented. She took him to see her mother, bewildered and confused in a care home. She showed him an example of ‘elderly woman with dementia’ and still he married her. The wedding was a blending of ages, of generations joined by new relationships, an idiosyncratic joining of uncles and nephews, nieces and pseudo granddads. They settled into a norm of some sort. Hard working and high powered, the weeks were full of work and the weekends full of young children (his) and older children and grandchildren (hers). She retrained and he watched with interest. She knew that this was her last chance to make a difference. They ditched the jobs that sapped their strength and squeezed all life out of them.
They both knew that this was it, they needed to make a go of this. They decorated, they collected, they worked out what they liked and they built a home. They maintained respect and treated each other well. They built a business, based on health and wellness. They spent their lives helping people to live well.
They weren’t ready for the next chapter but as the pages turned so the story unfolded. ‘Its malignant, I’ve got cancer’, and the world stopped turning. ‘Your best chance is surgery’ they said. So surgery he had, he had it until they could cut no more. ‘Your best chance is these drugs’ they said, so he took them until they worked no more. She looked after him until he needed her no more. As he left he took her last chance with him.
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