The lucky ones.

I have a confession. I love tabloids. I don’t ever let myself buy them, but if I can read a Hello! or a Huisgenoot I always do.

This week I walked into a 90 year old guest’s room and I was delighted that she was paging through a Hello! I had no control over my desire to see what the latest gossip is, and she happily showed me pictures of the queen. Then she looked at me, shaking her head, and said, “ I am so ashamed. There’s the queen, five years my senior, and she is out and about, shaking hands and kissing babies, while I am whiling away my time doing nothing but resting and eating!”

I actually burst out laughing at this notion because this woman is anything but lazy! She has a broken sacrum and has been up and about walking, exercising, reading, singing hymns and watching tennis, all the while following the news, receiving visitors, getting her hair done and doing her physio.

She is so positive, that when her son recently helped her apply for a new passport, she insisted on a ten year one despite the extra cost. She is still planning to travel around the globe at age 100!

Her generation is just something else. I am astounded at their tenacity and absence of entitlement. Their no-frills approach to life with no hint of self-pity is something to behold. Heather stayed with us for 48 days. Not once did she complain or utter a negative word.

Elwood Carlson, a Florida State University professor in sociology of population, has researched this generation (commonly known to us as “the Silent generation”). He calls them “the Lucky Few”. They are the people born between the “Greatest generation” and “the Baby boomers”. He considers them lucky because even though they were born during the upheaval of the Great Depression and World War II, they enjoyed a smooth and easy transition into adulthood in the relatively prosperous 1950s and early 1960s.

Listening to Heather’s story of being evacuated from her home and spending over a year away from her parents as a child during World War II certainly does not conjure images of anything I would call “luck”, but she stoically tells me that it was just something they had to get on with. There was a war, and this is what they had to do. She considers herself lucky to have survived the war, and this is also the way she approaches her recovery, with a genuine belief that she is lucky to be alive and healthy and to have the opportunity to recover.

I am delighted to say that she made a full recovery and went home last week. I’m convinced she will outlive us all.

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