Yesterday, I met a woman in a shop. She didn’t give me her name, but she did divulge her age: 92 – yet she looked closer to 72 with her bright blue eyes, and I told her so. I asked her what her secret was. She looked a little bemused by my question, paused to think, and then said she’d simply carried on going through life. “There’s no secret to it!”
She was enjoying a break, seated by a window overlooking the street, as she waited for her daughter. “I needed to rest my legs.” she explained, pointing to her walking stick, at rest too. Then she folded up her newspaper and remarked, “Well, there was nothing much new in that!”
She told me of her children (three girls, one boy – her eldest daughter now 70), and her grandchildren (numbering 13). No great-grandchildren yet, she winked, but her hopes were pinned on one grandson who is getting married next year. “Although,” she chuckled, “he will have to make sure his wife agrees; getting ahead in work is important to women these days.”
She had stayed at home with her own children, she expanded, and I told her that I had done the same. “I don’t blame you,” she acknowledged, “You can never recover that time.” (Which is not exactly how I feel about it, right now, but maybe I will when I’m 92).
Her husband died in 1980, so she was a widow at 53. She wasn’t a bit sad when she told me this, but mentioned his loss several times during our conversation. In fact, she added that she’d had a wonderful time after his death, because she was free to visit her daughter who had little ones by then. (I don’t think she realised quite how this sounded, but I didn’t take it as joy at her husband’s passing). She and her daughter would go away together at weekends, stay in holiday parks and by the sea, depositing the dogs with her son-in-law. “Ah, it was lovely!” she sighed. “I’m so lucky to have such a good family.“
She was mugged at the weekend, whilst browsing the shelves of her local charity shop. The police interviewed her in the bank next door and asked her if she could describe the girls who took her bag. “Of course not!” she said dismissively, “You don’t look at people when you are shopping next to them, do you!”
Anyway, it wasn’t the first time that something like that had happened to her. Twice she’s had a brick thrown through her windows. Only then did the old lady stop talking to think. Then she laughed as she recalled the stupidity of one of her intruders, who’d done an appalling job of intruding.
Our conversation ended when her daughter turned up, and tried to persuade her to walk to the post office before it started to rain. We all looked up at the grey clouds hanging low in the sky, so very inauspiciously (maybe only to me).
“Sorry you got caught!” apologised the daughter as she guided her mother away.
“Nothing to apologise for,” I replied, thinking: wow – no Brexit, no Boris, no Jeremy, no Jo Swinson. No Election Day second guessing. How very refreshing.
Although when my new friend was born (in 1927) women still had a year to go before they could exercise their right to vote in Great Britain (on equal terms as men).
I honestly couldn’t say how she might be voting today, but I sincerely hope that she is.