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This is a question Advice from Old People

Sometimes, just sometimes, old people say something worth listening to. Ok, so it's like picking the needle out of a whole haystack of mis-remembered war stories, but those gems should be celebrated.

Tell us something worthwhile an old-type person has told you.

Note, we're leaving the definition of old up to you, you smooth-skinned youngsters.

(, Thu 19 Jun 2008, 16:16)
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My grandmother
was from Belgium, born in 1895. At the start of the first world war the Germans invaded right past her front door. The day before the battle the local council were warning everyone to get out and evacuating the children. Her family chose to go to France, but she refused and chose to evacuate to England, despite not speaking any English, and not having any family or friends go with her. The whole of her family was wiped out, she survived. She never went back to Belgium for the rest of her life.

In England she met a nice young army sergeant. He was posted to India a few months after they met, and she decided to go too. The rules said only married women could accompany soldiers, but there wasn't time for them to marry in England before he left. It took several months before she could get a ticket, but as soon as she could she travelled by boat to India. Once there, despite only having known him for a few months, and having been separated for some months, she had to marry my grandfather within 24 hours to be allowed to stay with him.

They lived in India for several years, and she had three children. The first died of TB at the age of a few months. The 3rd, my father, was very ill and constantly crying: my grandmother was exhausted and couldn't take any more. Only her 2nd child, my aunt, pleading with her prevented her from killing the screaming baby, who happily grew up to be a healthy young man.

She left India with the 2 children, the youngest only 6 months old, travelling without her husband who travelled with the army. She arrived back in England in a very cold winter with only the light clothes she had from India, but she and the children made it safely back to Shropshire by train.

She and her husband lived a humble life, as the pay of a sergeant major wasn't particularly high. However she pushed both children to work hard: both of them won scholarships to grammar school (the only way they could have gone) and later both won scholarships to Oxford.

Her husband died when she was 72. By then she was rather frail, but she carried on. She was run over by a lorry when she was 85 and had multiple injuries, but she fought on and recovered. A few years later she would say 'if I hadn't been run over by that lorry I would be alive today.'

At the age of 97 she couldn't cope on her own any more and moved into a home. One day one of the helpers there noticed she had a slight accent, saying 'shukker' for sugar, and asked if she was German, sparking a vicious response. She died 3 months before her 100th birthday.

She was very proud and opinionated, and treated nothing as permanent. She had no mementoes, even very few photographs, and threw away almost everything when her husband died, keeping only his army medals and the paybook which gave her access to his pension. When my brother's girlfriend moved in with him she refused to stay at my parents' house, standing on Wolverhampton station shouting loudly "I will not set foot in your house of sin!".

Her advice to me: look after yourself, no one else will. Never look back. Don't take risks with money or your health. Education is important.

Sound words, all.
(, Fri 20 Jun 2008, 12:00, closed)
well written...
poignant and good advice *clicks*
(, Fri 20 Jun 2008, 12:17, closed)
The nursing home bit reminds me of a incident with my Gran a little while ago.
Whilst waiting for a routine checkup on her hearing aid, my Gran was in the company of a number of old ladies who for one reason or another were discussing their activities during the Second World War. When asked, my Gran answered that she had been on an anti aircraft battery.
"What city were you defending?" Another asked.
"Oh, Munich" she replied cheerfully.

Although a Sudenten German by birth, she's been here so long, you'd need to be paying very close attention to tell.
(, Fri 20 Jun 2008, 12:37, closed)
The "house of sin" bit did it for me.
(, Fri 20 Jun 2008, 15:04, closed)

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