One thing was very important in Anne's life which I, her dumb husband, only understood much later – she wanted to do something beyond being the one looking after everybody, as she had done for the first ten years of her married life.
Of course she wanted to be a wife and definitely a mother, but not a housewife the rest of her life, and though she wanted not necessarily anything earth shaking she felt that she had something more to contribute.
I did not understand that and as the oldest of the siblings felt myself obligated to look after my brothers by having us working together and all I could think of was by setting up a house-building company. That I saw as my first responsibility. How wrong.
Anne should have been my first and foremost, and we started out alright, but still I failed her by choosing for my brothers.
Going back a little, Anne was not helped much in her ambitions by her father, who loved her as the apple of his eye, (and she loved him) and forbade her as a sixteen year old to work as a domestic help in France, the place where she wanted to spread her wings, because he loved her, and had I been in his shoes I would've done exactly the same, as France, rightly or wrongly, did not have a great name in our circles morally, and Anne was very young.
It was hard for me to believe that I had swiped her of her feet, as she mentioned once, which might have been the reason that she so readily agreed to wait for me two years, when I took off to Canada, which was quite a chunk off her life to wait.
I realized that and was willing to do most anything to please Anne, yet often screwed up things by doing them before talking it over, or doing it together with her.
That produced definitely unnecessary problems.
I remember for example, in my eagerness to please Anne, buying a 6 or 8 sets of dining ware, including coffee and thee pots, cups and saucers, serving plates and more.
It was one of the rare modern styles I found in a store-window, imported from Scandinavia I think, very modern and very beautiful.
Had we been shopping together, or had Anne been shopping by herself, she would have chosen the same set I came home with herself, I'm sure, as our tastes were quite similar, but that was just it, we were not together, Anne had no part in the finding or choosing.
In my mind Anne's reaction should have been after I had proudly covered the entire surface of the living-room with the china ware -
“Dear husband, how nice of you to think of me by surprising me with this beautiful gift.
How thoughtful for you to think of me. I love you.” Closing of curtains. Hugs and kisses, etc.
It is more likely that Anne was thinking -
“My goodness, more of the same, isn't there anything I can have a hand in, yes it is of a very nice modern design, I would've probably purchased the same thing, but why didn't you let ME buy it, I LIKE SHOPPING, and why did YOU have to buy our stove, our fridge, our kitchen table set, and for goodness sake, our stupid cheap bed.”
As I remember there was no closing of curtains.
I don't think we had any curtains yet.
Anne was right about our bed, it was cheap, the springs of the bed reached almost the floor when we were laying on it.
Anne – That bed was too hot to sleep on, and we sank so far in the middle of it that we almost touched the floor. We were forever lying on top of each other.
One thing she did by herself, she traveled by bus to the city of Winnipeg to buy a small mat for under the dining room table, which she still remembered fifty years later when we together wrote her life-story.
The first thing she did beside buying a mat on her own was to hire herself out into a sweat-shop in the city where mostly immigrant women worked sewing together shirts and things, in piece-work.
The pay was low and the work hard but Anne knew how to use a sewing-machine, so she was one of the top producers.
Some women worked themselves into a frenzy to make more money, becoming neurotic and had to quit. When I heard that, I called the outfit, telling them that Anne had quit, because my wife did not have to work, especially not at a slave-drivers sweat-shop business like theirs.
Anne was angry, telling me that she could look after her own business, but she did stop.
We had agreed that the money Anne made was her own and from that time on (1956) she had her own bank-account, which was unusual for women to have at that time.
There was definitely an entrepreneur spirit in Anne and shortly after the sweat-shop job she started working for housewives, which was an entire different adventure, but one she was trained for in the Netherlands.
She started for a dollar per hour for a dutch woman with the provision that the woman picked her up and took her home again, and she included a nice lunch as well.
John and I were hired at 95cts an hour at Supercrete, only two years before, with no lunches provided and no transportation, so she did rather well.
Anne - “The dutch lady liked my cleaning skills so much, that her sister wanted me as well.
My fame spread to include an English lady and here begins a different story.
She was definitely not like the dutch sisters, whose houses were immaculate clean even before I used my cleaning talents on it. Her house could use some scrubbing, and I was hired to do just that, washing walls, ceilings, floors, whatever needed cleaning.
I marveled at her command of the English language, and even more about the way she verbalized it, in an old country English accent. The crisp pronunciation of the minimum of words, strung together into sentences that were so direct and to the point amazed me, especially since it it was done in such an effortless way.
It was music to my ears and has been ever since.
It was different to work for a 'foreigner' and I enjoyed it immensely. Her house neither looked nor felt dutch. She had different furnishings in her house and even her ideas about cleaning were different.”
Much later in Richmond -
Close, very close to the end of tax return time, his usual way of doing things, our accountant made his yearly visit to gather personal tax information, a habit that drove me up the wall but which he for some reason never changed.
In former days we talked until deep into the night, oiled by a quart of scotch but since my son died I never touched the stuff anymore, up to this day.
During the alcohol free conversation the accountant asked Anne if she would be interested in, of all things, selling jewelry. He went on that a wholesale jeweler had opened up in the building where his office was located, who needed a sales person.
As Anne showed interest he suggested for her to visit his office from where he would introduce her to the wholesaler.
I was floored, Anne, who usually wore only her plain dutch wedding ring, a pair earrings and a necklace as adornments, was now going to sell the stuff? Wholesale?
I had to see that.
Anne took the position and in no time was one of the best selling persons of the company, which was owned by a middle-aged couple taking her under their wings, and having her interests in mind they helped her setting up her own business, which was to be called Lizanne's fine jewelry, after the names of her friend Liz and herself.
I was assuming that we were going to do this adventure together but then I learned finally that Anne wanted to this by herself. I was allowed to be her guarantor as she needed a business loan, which I arranged for her, but that was the extent of the help I was permitted to give.
She paid off the loan to the bank after one year, and than she finally had what she wanted – her own loan free business which she kept profitable and loan free for as long as she operated it.
The story got a little long but there is much more excitement to it which scouts honor will come next week.
The heading of this story is a little misleading as it does apply only to the next part.
Why would she think … sorry, my lips are closed.