On occasion I find myself face to face with the daunting question of the future. What happens if I outlive my lovely spouse and make is to old age alone? Who will be there to see I don’t suffer neglect or abuse if I need care or help? I would like to share a positive true story.
When I was six I was lucky enough to move next door to a lovely elderly lady known in the neighbourhood as Aunty Margaret. Everyone loved her and she had lived in her home since the 1940’s. She was a loveable Nana-type figure. You would always find her baking and gardening. Her pure white hair was kept in pristine condition and she always smelled of sweet lavender soap. In her 60’s, 70’s and 80’s she could still outrun a speeding ice-cream van for 3 blocks in her knitted slippers.
We soon discovered Aunty had been widowed twice and sadly never had any children of her own. Her first husband carried a genetic disorder and he refused to put a child through that. She stuck by the love of her life but always spoke of her heartbreak. By the time she married her second husband nature had taken too long. She accepted the life she had been dealt. The only remaining family was a nephew living in Cyprus.
Aunty M was of great help to my newly single mom and helped look after my 4-year-old brother and I. A year later my step-dad moved in and they hit it off immediately. It was an instant bond between them and she doted on him (she especially adored men).
We would spend every holiday together. My brother and I spent the summers playing outdoors with skipping ropes and learning how to keep a garden. Our family dog even idolised her. He would be waiting for his daily treat at the gate my step-dad built between our gardens and she would chat away to him all day. That dog one day jumped the 6ft fence to chase off an intruder in her home. All animals seemed to worship her.
After 8 years we moved away but still very much spent our time visiting her. She was there for the teenage years, the first jobs, boyfriends, our weddings and holidays. We sadly lost her at the age of 96. The past decade or so we nursed her when she needed it. Collected her pension and took her shopping. We were there when she was frail and looked after her, as she had looked after us all those years earlier. She was never a burden.
She was so loved and anything but alone. At her funeral the church was packed. Standing room only. Everyone had been blessed by knowing her. Aunty Margaret was our extra mum/nan. Not by blood but something much stronger.
If I ever make it to her ripe old age it will hardly matter what I have in terms of materials or wealth. I would love her kindness, her spirit and her strength. To this day I can still look back at memories and laugh until my belly hurts. I am not suggesting one day we may all be in the same boat, but by surrounding yourself with friends and love may you find it enriches your lives… wherever it may lead in the end.