Happy 99th Phyllis!

Last week I attended a private family meal at a restaurant in Hertfordshire to celebrate the 99th birthday of a remarkable lady. By any standards this is a great age for anyone to reach and certainly worthy of celebration. As for the cake, well we’d ordered a beautiful sponge and chocolate creation in the shape of a 99 ice cream cone which went down a storm when presented in all its glory by the waiting staff that sunny afternoon.DSC01234B The previous day someone at the radio station asked me if I would ask her the two most predictable questions I guess we’d all like full and comprehensive answers to, namely, what has been the most remarkable thing that has happened in her lifetime and to what to what does she attribute her longevity? The scenario reminded me of when I asked my own maternal grandmother similar questions way back at the end of the 60’s. Her answers then were firstly her memory of the first manned flight followed later in life by a man standing on the surface of the moon. Her answer to the second question was early to bed and early to rise with little or no alcohol and certainly no smoking. Last week I waited for an appropriate moment before asking, and then we all sat back in silent anticipation: waiting for the pearls of wisdom that we too might learn ‘the secrets’ of long life. After a moment or two Phyllis sat back in her chair and looked straight at me. “The birth of my children”. That was all she said on the matter. It was enough to make us all smile, especially given that her two adult children were sitting either side of her. It was a touching moment. Maybe it’s that age old thing that all generations crave at some stage in their lives: the gems of life’s experience from those that have truly lived, that they may share their wisdom with the future.

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