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In Memory of Olga Clayton

Olga stepped out of the garden of her ground floor apartment, closed the gate, crossed the street and stepped into THE SPACE. She was curious to see our little shop and little did we know, as she greeted us for the first time, how she would also step into our hearts and minds.

It was just about six months ago on a cold dreary January day, during the post-Christmas lull. Olga cooed with delight as Sabah, our assistant and I showed her our shop and explained our mission. She stayed a while and said she’d be back the next day. She was true to her word and since that first day she became our most frequent customer and a special friend to Sabah, myself, my partners and to many other of our regular customers.

Olga would sit in the armchair and we’d have a hot drink and a cookie as we chatted. We soon discovered how much we had in common. We shared our teaching experiences and joys and tribulations of motherhood. We got to know about her family and life in Texas and her concern for all the animals in Maadi, especially the street cats around her apartment and her battle to feed them despite the complaints of the landlady.

Olga was also a good listener and learned about our lives and Egypt. She formed a very special relationship with Sabah, and helped her out with her English and gave her sound advice. She would bring over freshly baked treats for us and helped out in the shop during busy times. She had even offered to take care of Toto, my dog, during my summer travels.

As we chatted, she would also have her eye on our new consignments and get up to try things on or reserve items that she added to her special collection. We quickly realized that nearly all of her purchases were for her family back in Texas. She was generous and thoughtful with all her purchases ordering colorful quilts for her brother, the artist, and towels with tortoises for her little grandson, Skye. When she occasionally bought items for herself, she was careful not to spend too much and would rummage through the bargain boxes or comb the racks for our sale items. She was eagerly awaiting our mid May sale, but that was not to be.

Just before our sale, Olga become very ill and was hospitalized. Two weeks later she died. Her armchair is empty and I miss the sound of her melodious “ halloo” as she crossed over from her home to the shop, her coos of joy as she discovered new treasures and most of all, her warmth and laughter. She entered into our lives very briefly, but will remain in our hearts eternally.

Kerima Nashat

Co-owner of THE SPACE

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