Table of Contents
Introduction—A Most Excellent Woman
1. The Uninvited
2. Three Roars for the Lion King
3. Zeller’s Was Never The Same Again
4. Little Betsy’s Secret
5. Alice—The Guest from Hell
6. Addendum—Maureen’s Lemon Curd
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The Excellent Woman
Maureen Harris was a truly remarkable person. She trained as a nurse in England then brought her nursing skills to Canada where her organizational skills earned her a position of authority in our local hospital. After retirement she acted as warden of her church—Anglican of course. She was a world traveller, an ardent golfer, a threat at the bridge table, a gourmet cook (who will ever forget her executive brunches), a lover of flowers, a patron of the Arts, a good and kind friend.
Maureen was a person to whom things happened. No trip to the corner or into her garden was uneventful and she delighted in sharing her experiences with her friends. I began collecting her stories some years ago with the idea of reproducing them for Maureen as a sort of memory book. I chose the form of creative non-fiction because I was unable to reproduce her wonderful English accent and turns of phrase that would make the stories sound authentic. Originally planned as a larger collection, I was unable to finish before her death. Without her help and approval, I did not care to continue.
Yes, things happened to Maureen, but not all of them were good. There were tragedies behind her laughter and the last one was cancer.
The people in these stories did exist and the events did happen, but only as I imagined them. Maureen’s friend from England did arrive unannounced and did bring her supply of gin. I think my representation of her and her activities is pretty true to life. Maureen’s bridge club did exist, as did the tour organizer who planned some of Maureen’s adventures.
Many of her stories revolved around three elderly ladies. In real life Maureen did care for them as though they were beloved relatives. As relatives will, they sometimes tried her patience but they were a huge part of her life. I have described their ages and physical disabilities as accurately as possible. I did give each of them a distinct personality and it was only long after I began working with them that I realized they each represented a part of Maureen herself. She was a strong-willed person who could be soft and kind but there was a bit of the fun-loving rebel there too, one who dared to dream
This is my memorial to a most Excellent Woman.
Coldwater, Ontario, March 2014