Yesterday we visited with my wife’s octogenarian aunt (and godmother). She has lived in Chesham (in the Chilterns) nearly forty years. The town is the last stop on the London Underground’s Metropolitan line – with a tiny above ground station.
She lives just outside of the town. While we’ve been to her home numerous times, we’d never been into the town center itself, so we drove in and she took us on a short, late-afternoon stroll around. It’s very pleasant. I played “tourist” briefly and took a few photos:
A few years ago, she’d visited us in our home over in the Catskills, in upstate New York. (Like us, she doesn’t have children.) A retired nurse, she has what I’d term a relentlessly positive outlook and a “zest for life.” (She’s still an enthusiastic “rambler.”) When you’re around her, you can’t help but feel uplifted.
Over lunch, we chatted about my late mum, and how my dad is coping without her. She’s a widow herself, so well-understands what he is suffering through. (“It’s so difficult when all of a sudden you’re with people who are all in couples and there you are by yourself.”) Before their marriage, her husband, who died in 2005, had been a British army officer in Normandy in 1944 – where he was hit in the head with shrapnel and badly wounded. (As he grew older, the brain damage the wound left behind grew much worse and eventually disabled him.) She has also been a trained bereavement counselor, trying to help people through just this sort of loss, and had some useful advice for me in dealing with my father.
She also laughs easily at herself and what life has in store for all of us ultimately – some of us, chronologically, likely sooner than others, of course. Somehow the “undertaking” business came up, which led her to share an anecdote of a recent encounter. “I happen to know a man who’s a funeral director,” she told us. “I saw him in a shop and he said to me, ‘Hello. How are you?’ I suddenly thought, I don’t want him to think I’m planning on being a customer soon! I said, ‘I’m fine! Fine!’ ”
Have a fine day, wherever you are in the world. 🙂