bookshop knitting group to meet here today. We normally meet at the shop on the last Tuesday of the month but Australia has an extra public holiday because Anzac Day fell on Easter Monday.
Like most such groups, there are regulars and there are people who come occasionally. Other people, who never attend, sometimes look at me and say, "Why do you bother?"
I was asked to "lead" the group by the previous owner of the bookshop. When she put the proposition to me we both knew that the real purpose of the group was two fold. Yes, we would knit. That might encourage people to come into the shop as they can see us at work there. (It does sometimes.) The other purpose is the unspoken one.
One of the women has a husband with Alzheimer's. Someone comes to be with him so that she can have a few completely social hours off. This is not the time for her own medical appointments or the shopping or any of the things she must do. This is her time for relaxing and socialising. She will often chat with the woman whose husband had a brain tumour removed and whose personality has changed as a result. They have much in common but met through the group.
Another lost a son last year. The group was there to support her in the time immediately following his death and she still finds it a support.
Still another woman lives alone and, despite having other friends and activities, the bookshop group is something she looks forward to "because it is small and friendly".
There is a woman who is physically frail but often has a funny story to tell. For her, the group is a few hours out of the house. The effort of getting to the group is, she tells me, worth it for the welcome she gets and the companionship.
Another woman comes some distance. She lives in a small city apartment and has insufficient to do with her time. She will often help me teach something to someone.
There are others who come and go. There is woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's, another who had a serious road accident and finds it difficult to articulate her thoughts or follow a pattern. There is the young mother who turned up for just an hour wanting to know how to cast on her stitches. Her mother was minding the children while she did it. She would like to come again.
Members of the group will sometimes contact me in between with a question. They will come to borrow a book or get some help.
I have no idea how many of them will turn up today. The mugs will be out. The tea and coffee will be there for them to help themselves. It is not perhaps the group of expert knitters the bookshop owner first had in mind but it is something much more important than that.