There are some people in life that as soon as you meet them you immediately know you like them and want to be their friend. Joan is one of those people. She is this absolutely adorable 86 year old woman I have gotten to know through the church I attend here. Her favorite outfits include a brightly colored sweater and matching beads. And I do mean matching. Usually, the color is so close to that of her shirt if you’re standing too far away, you won’t even be able to tell she has a necklace on. I’m convinced she has beads custom made just to match her outfits. But even more important than her personal sense of style is her endearing personality. She is so sweet and kind and can carry on a conversation for hours. Just be warned, you won’t be doing much of the talking. When I was first introduced to Joan a couple weeks ago, I knew I wanted to be her friend. So when she invited myself and three other girls on an outing, I quickly accepted.
For the past two weeks she has been dying to take us to some place called Avoca Handweavers. She went on and on about the fantastic coffee and soup they have in their cafe, and all the wonderful things they sell in their shop. Especially the rugs! She is completely convinced that all Americans want to take home rugs from this shop! The four of us accepted the invitation mostly because we wanted to spend time with Joan. To be honest, we were all a little skeptical about the place we were headed. It couldn’t actually be as great as she said.
On Sunday we finally got it all arranged. Our schedule has been really busy so it was hard to find a time that would work. But we finally figured it out. That was a great conversation... We had decided she would pick us up at 11am on Friday.
Joan: “So I’ll call for you all on Friday at 11.”
Me: “Ok… but we have it all decided. So you can just come on Friday.” (Thinking: "Wwhy would she need to call? She probably doesn't even have our number.")
Joan: “Right. I’ll call for you at 11 on Friday.”
Me: (In my head) “Oh, call for us means she’ll pick us up at 11… wow, I’m stupid.” (To Joan) “Sounds great! We’ll see you then!”
Just when I think I have all the Irish lingo and phrasing figured out, I mess up! So this morning at 11, Joan “called for us.” We walk out to her little red car. I call shotgun (Boo-ya!) and the other three girls squeezed into the back seat. (Don't fret mom, I was polite and let someone have the front on the way back. I haven't lost all my manners.) This is when things got interesting. Remember, Joan is 86 and a little…. Out of it at times. Now I have never driven a stick shift before. Nor have I have driven in a country where you have to be on the left side of the road. But man I was tempted to take the wheel today. I think in the course of the outing she killed the car at least half a dozen times. Sometimes it was while we were waiting at a stoplight or for our turn to enter the roundabouts. Oh, roundabouts. Those were a whole other problem. She is not an aggressive driver, which was really a good thing for her. But at the same time, she was so passive that other cars would go around her and enter the roundabout since she wouldn’t go! The funniest part was, she kept commenting on other people’s driving. If someone cut her off she would mutter something about “Crazy woman drivers!” Of which she is one! It was all I could do to keep from giggling.
Throughout the entire ride she kept up a constant stream of conversation. She talked about her life as a teacher, her experiences climbing the Alps, her friends in Texas, etc. She has done so many things! And she knows just about everyone! Joan is definitely Greystones famous! All of the posters of the candidates in today’s elections were posted along the street and she was commenting on all the different people that were running that she knew. It was incredible. I suppose when you're 86 you've had time to make a few friends.
So after the short 15 minute drive we made it to Avoca. I have to say, this was the cutest place we have visited yet! It's too hard to describe, so just know, it lived up to and exceeded all of our expectations. Joan, being the sweetheart that she is, bought us all coffee. So we sat on the porch and chatted for another hour. After that, she released us to wander around the store for a bit. Everything was adorable... and expensive! She had warned us about this beforehand so we weren't too sticker shocked, but most everything was easily out of our price range. But that's ok. It was still a great time. While we were there we met one of Joan's friends who runs a mini-Avoca shop about half an hour from Greystones. Joan has promised to take us on another outing so we can go visit that shop. I'm so excited! It will be wonderful to spend some more time with this endearing woman.