A few days ago, i met a sprightly lady in her nineties. She lives alone and is completely independent in her activities of daily living. During the course of our conversation, she started telling me a little about her life history. I have dealt with geriatric patients – by that i mean people in her age bracket – and some of their stories are fascinating and really worth listening. But i think the lady’s account was the best i have heard so far.
She used to work in the English air force as a pilot. A fantastic feat for a woman in her era and i told her so. Because i am not good with dates but i know a little history, i asked in jest if she ever knew Winston Churchill.
“Oh yes, i do,” she replied.
My jaw dropped.
“You knew him?” i asked incredulously.
“Why, of course. I worked in the air force.”
“Did you shake his hand?” i was getting extremely excited. I was going to shake this poor lady’s hand a few more times if she did!
She laughed and with a slightly embarrassed tone, admitted that she had never shook his hand because he used to smoke a cigar, and she just hated those dreadful things.
I could only gape at my patient; my eyes must have been as big as saucers. I have only read about Winston Churchill in my history text; i have never in my life met anyone who spoke about him because they knew him personally. And yet, here i was staring into the face of this woman, whom Winston Churchill had looked into, almost a decade ago. I was just one person away from Churchill?? And what, two persons away from Stalin, Mussolini and the infamous Hitler? Are you for real? That’s like even closer to them than to the current presidents of Obama, Merkel and Napolitano since i do not know anyone who spoke to them, let alone work with them.
As you can tell, i am still reeling from being star-struck, babbling like a fool. Ahem.