Life goes in strange circles doesn’t it?
In my 85th year, suddenly, I found myself in another one.
I was 5 when I heard that man on the radio telling us “We are at War”. And saw my Mother crying.
Always recall it as a point where life changed. A completely different life suddenly became normal: Gas masks, Air raid sirens, The Blackout and bombs. And food shortage.
And 80 years later, here we are again. That shock of your known world turning upside down. In a few weeks. You all must have felt that?
My first reaction was to delight in the community spirit that immediately emerged. Such warmth and kindness. Immediate offers of help. A neighbor delivered a pot of tulips to all us shut ins – “to have something to nurture and see grow”
It was so good to know that the coming together feel I grew up with in the war is still there. Felt proud.
And it has got better hasn’t it? Standing on our balcony listening to the whole of Glasgow clapping is chokingly moving.
Then of course, after the shock comes the panic. How will I cope? Must find ways to fill the time.
And the despairing realisation of what it all really means.
No hugging grandchildren, family holiday cancelled. When, if ever, will I meet my old friends again? Who is in danger?
Then that silly toilet roll and selfish food stocking…..Oh dear.
For me it meant the cancellation of a series of speaking engagements and workshops I was eagerly planning. One of them was in Leeds, on Ageism!
For the last 3 years Time to Shine in Leeds have been part of a National campaign to reduce loneliness among older people. It was going brilliantly.
And now, with no warning, everything we had been doing to get people out, about and socialising has to stop. We are asked to do exactly the opposite!
Where now? Big rethink!
Delighted to realise that the basic organisation of the Leeds team and even more its volunteers is still operational! Change of plan! Use it in reverse. Go to people, reach out, link up….new ideas, fresh solutions. Create a magazine, have volunteers deliver it …and they have put it online.
Perhaps long term we will have made the system better?
Rather the same for us as individuals isn’t it? At first this sense of loss. Clubs, lunches, hobbies and family events, all gone. Now what?
Did you think as I did? Read all the books, watch films, phone friends and actually get around to ironing, mending and sorting photos….just coping?
It hasnt turned out like that at all! What is evolving is amazing!
The internet has woken up…
Yoga and keep fit classes moving on line. Museums offering virtual visits, the National Theatre streamed into our homes for free. Pub quizzes moving there too. So much!
But all that depends on us being able to get on line and use simple social media doesnt it. Always seen as problematic for the older generation wasnt it?
Well that is changing rapidly! Families, grandkids, neighbours, and volunteers are sorting us.
Using Zoom has been a huge learning curve for us all. But it has turned out to be true magic. Whole families able to gather and chat. Mine met last Sunday for an hour. One from Taiwan, two from London, two from Matlock and us from Glasgow.
Why on earth had we never done it before! It was lovely.
And using social media for a nightly face to face with grandkids! Even playing games. On line coffee mornings, everyone being inventive. My Book group meets on Zoom and we have set up a Film group to discuss all those we now have time to watch on Netflix.
The BBC as ever is finding ways to cope. Love those wobbly videos of interviews from home where the kids start butting in. Though suspect sports fans are frustrated. Being a Bridge fanatic I have discovered that my friends and I can set up a table and play on line.
A housebound disabled friend tells me that life has never been so good. Far more face to face contact with people. And, more significant, when she is on line she feels normal just like everyone else.
Another interesting development is how many people are saying that leaving the rush and business of normal life has been a benefit. They realise how much they are enjoying the quiet and doing simple things again – like baking banana bread.
My great pleasure is enjoying the morning bird song with no traffic. That peace.
We are living through history aren’t we? Our world cant be the same again. Maybe better?
Rather hoping too that our grandchildren will retain warm memories of the great courage, the spirit, and our coming togetherness.
Be able to tell their grandchildren about it? With pride?