20 Mar Wisdom From An Elderly Couple
So there I was, sitting in a coffee shop doing some work, headphones in, and I get a poke on the shoulder.
Sitting next to me, who I was to find out shortly, were Ethel and Bertie (names changed to preserve privacy!). They were 85 years young and fancied a chat, and luckily for me, I happened to be the closest to Ethel’s bony finger. After some initial pleasantries and inquiring as to what I was working on, they then progressed to talk for the following half an hour about their life experiences, the war, their children and grandchildren and other defining moments. In typical elderly person fashion they liked to repeat themselves and digress into some curious tangents (such as 58% of Portsmouth was flattened from bombing raids and 4000 people died from the sinking of the RMS Lancastria which was the last ship for British nationals to be leaving occupied France in June 1940. It was the greatest ever loss of life from the sinking of a British ship and Dennis’s father was one of the survivors after giving his life vest to a young 19yr old boy who couldn’t swim), but they made a point of articulating their secrets for a long and worthwhile life.
1) In Bertie‘s words “work bloody hard“. Life does not owe us anything, we owe the world the best that we have to offer. No one is coming to save us.
2) “Be grateful for every moment of freedom“. I was sitting in one of many thousands of bomb sites in Greater London with and to think that had I been sitting here 75 years ago, there was missile (27,917 high explosive bombs and 408 parachute mines to be exact) heading towards me with the sole purpose of ending my life. They said to “appreciate the fact that I can sit here drinking a coffee in peace, appreciate the price that millions had to pay for our freedom.”
3) Study, understand and “learn about our past“. Knowing where we came from can give us a much broader capacity to acknowledge the lessons from the past.
Thank you Ethel and Bertie 🙂