Sunday, February 15, 2009

Last Night on the Tram ...


a gift, originally uploaded by - di.

Gert and I travelled to the Marlene Dietrich concert on the tram and while waiting, an older woman talked with us.

She was pure delight and somehow the conversation turned to age.

I really really hesitated to guess that she might be 70 but her face was beautifully lined and there was something about her.

It turned out that she was the baby sister in a family of long-lifers. She was 81 and just heading out after an afternoon of volunteer work at the hospital ...

I was stunned.

We continued our conversations, making space as a small group of women boarded a few stops down the road. It turned out that she was good friends with one of them - they meet every week to have conversations in different languages. English one week, Spanish another ... just for fun.

I adored her, of course.

We only talked for perhaps 30 minutes and I was sad to say bye.
And then as we were leaving, she touched my arm to get my attention and handed me the chocolate hearts you see in the photograph here.

A truly remarkable woman, I thought.

9 comments:

Carolien said...

What a wonderful, heartening experience. You obviously attract special people!

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

81 and on her way to volunteer????
They say you have to have a purpose in life and someone to share it with. Boy, 81, the things she would have seen...

Peter said...

I'm utterly stunned Di.

Trust me, I've been riding Antwerp trams for over 30 years, and this never, ever happened to me or my family/friends, especially these days on a troubled tramline like the one you're taking.

An inspirational moment that should be published widely to show that sheer kindness still exist in 2009.

paris parfait said...

Yes, remarkable. I met a similar woman once in France. She was a volunteer at the hospital around the corner. Easily 80, she was still going strong and so charming and pleasant. How sweet that the woman on the tram gave you the hearts as well! xo

Di Mackey said...

Heartening experience, :) it was Carolien.

I know, Gary, I really wanted to ask if I might come to their English conversation or if I could interview her. A lot of her family are still alive and imagine, she's the youngest at 81!

I've never had any problems on that tramline, Peter. I think its reputation is worse than the reality. Old women have often talked with me though, I think they see how curious I am.

That type are amazing, aren't they, Tara. I interviewed a man back in NZ, I must dig out his interview and put it on the new website. He was still volunteering into his 90s.

My grandmother once told me that she felt 16 inside, and she as in her 60s so I think it's that no one ever told them to settle down into old age. I mean, after all, age is merely a construct, isn't it?

RD said...

People like this have a way of reaching out to the humanity around them. I really think they are imbued with a rare gift, and we leave their presence refreshed, with a bit of faith restored. I love this story. (I remember years ago on a Brussels tram a kind woman sharing a pastry with my then 3 year old. We took it, but the cynical protective mother in me wondered if it was safe to eat. I was ashamed to have that thought.)

Di Mackey said...

I love the trams here, RD. De Lijn drive me mad sometimes but as a form of transport ...well, I'd miss them if I ever moved.

I find that conversations begin on them and yes, the sharing of food. I'm sure so many of us have had that thought ... simply because our parents probably all told us never to accept food from strangers.

The thing I really love about the Belgians is that when they realise they don't understand my Nederlands, they switch into English, apologising for the quality of it, meanwhile I'm flabbergasted by their fluency. :)

RD said...

Yikes, Di, I double posted. Sorry--please delete the second.

Di Mackey said...

:) sorry, I was confused but assumed it was me not releasing the first one ...

Tis done