I stood up quickly, self consciously caught in the act. I felt the
presence of someone and didn’t want to seem disrespectful.
Blue vinyl gloves adorned her hands, which carried a grocery bag with supplies. She walked intently forward, a smart picture in her blue cardigan covering a blue and white stripped shirt and blue skirt. The sensible shoes and the cane the only indication of her advancing years.
I greeted her with “isn’t it a lovely day” and her response was full of delight.
“Indeed it is, for sunshine is good for the soul and we don’t get enough of it here” she replied in a lovely broad accent. Her eyes were alert and the same sun we spoke of brightened her snow white hair.
She hadn’t wanted to come in the dreadful heat of the two previous days but she had felt her presence was greatly required. “The place is a dreadful mess, what with the cut backs and such.” Then she asked me “do you and your husband often visit cemeteries?” Without waiting for a reply, which was rhetorical because it was obvious that’s what we were doing, she continued on ” my husband and I did that too for many years but rest his soul he’s been gone now for 5 years. He was 99″.
She’d come to care for his grave and that of her neighbours. Talk turned to cemetery care and we noted that it seemed quite well kept compared to Canadian ones. We discussed the immaculate graveyards we’d seen in Austria and Switzerland. We asked about the big building to which she replied that she wasn’t sure as they had only moved south 10 years ago. They had raised their family in a beautiful setting but had now followed them down here as life had aged them.
Turns out she was 95 with grown grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. She managed fine on her own and felt blessed when they arranged for her to be present at their events. She felt strongly that they had their own lives and for her children she wanted them to experience how much fun grandchildren where without worrying about her. She lived in sheltered housing and didn’t need to worry about much besides personal care and her food. Her eyes gleamed with pride and joy when she told us that her granddaughter came over once a week for a grocery run. “Besides that” she stated “I get on fine by myself” but she worries as they had told her that her eye site was going. We mentioned both our mothers struggled with that and how hard it made life.
Somehow, but I’m not quite sure, talked turned to her school chum who had married and moved to Canada. Manitoba to be “exact”. She feared the worst though as the last letter had said she was seeking medical assistance 1000 miles away. She stated that she was “terribly saddened” that the family hadn’t bothered to get in touch. I remarked that I had already earmarked this as an item to do.
We ended up gently disengaging ourselves as the conversation was set to hit a new tangent of where we must go see. We thanked her for the conversation as we stated it’s always nice to truly connect with the folks of the country. Her bright reply “that she was glad to have met us and chatted” and we parted ways with a “take care”.
We then meandered our way out, past the stately family masoleuem that was showing signs of wear. We checked dates and read Scottish name upon name. It turns out that the pattern we’ve seen emmerging, longevity, is a 250 year old “trend” in Scotland. Our chance encounter with a village local seemed to confirm that. Bless her soul.
Several goals to aspire for in the next 35 years of living well where learnt today.