I made another friend for the moment on Tuesday. I was standing at the bus stop near one of the elementary schools in Winnipeg’s inner city where I supervise student teachers. It was cold and snowy and the bus was late. There was one other woman waiting with me and she asked if I could look and see if the bus was coming since her eyesight wasn’t great. I peered down the street but told her I couldn’t see the bus yet.
The woman said, “I don’t recognize you. You musn’t be from this neighborhood.” I explained what I was doing there and she said she was taking the bus to pick up her great grandson from kindergarten. I told her I had two grandchildren and another one arriving soon. We kept on chatting about our kids and grandkids and by the time the bus arrived I had found out she was providing full time care for her great grandson because his mother was trying to get her life turned around and the boy’s grandmother, the daughter of the woman I was talking to, had been beaten to death by her abusive boyfriend.
I discovered the woman and I were the same age. She told me she found it pretty tough caring for her active great grandson but she had no choice. She was glad next year he would be in grade one all day and was very happy he had been accepted into a school where he would be taught Ojibwe/Cree.
She told me how scary her neighborhood had become with so many needles lying around. She makes it a personal mission to look for discarded needles on the street and takes them to the neighborhood pharmacy where they can be disposed of safely. She’d found three needles that day just walking from her home to the bus stop where we were standing.
Our bus arrived and my new friend sat across from me after we’d boarded. She told me she was teaching her great grandson some traditional dances. She had been a dancer performing at pow wows and other events for many years. I told her about the dresses for the Jingle Dance made by Anishinaabe artist Barry Ace that we’d had on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery where I work part time. She told me she’d made herself six different jingle dresses and then we talked about the different kinds of jingles you can sew onto the dresses and where you could get them and how some women make their own jingles.
The bus pulled up to her great grandson’s daycare just then. I told her it had been nice talking to her and wished her well. She waved to me from the sidewalk after she’d exited the bus. I really haven’t stopped thinking about the women and her story since.
I’ve written before about how interesting it is to make what I call friends for the moment. I learn so much from them. My friend for the moment on Tuesday was no exception.