Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Meeting With A Remarkable Woman

On the way home tonight I took one of the last seats on the bus, a seat alongside a tiny little old lady in a big woolen coat, with a couple of shopping bags on the seat with her. She politely moved her bags to give me more room as I sat, and I said thanks and we rode along in silence for most of the trip home. At one point she was sort of sliding off the seat when the bus stopped fairly sharply, and having jostled me slightly she apologised and we shared a smile about it.

About 4 stops from home we started chatting, as we passed the old brickworks that was many years ago turned into a large park. (My pics from a wander around the same park a few years ago are here.) She started to tell me a story of being a child with 15 bothers and sisters, and having had no money (and a drunk of a father) and how she used to walk the long walk from Ultimo to St Peters to visit her grandmother, who lived near the brickworks. Back when it was a functioning brickworks, with all the soot and smoke that that entailed, and the sad stories of some children who fell into then pits and wells that used to be open in the grounds. Back in those days trams used to ply the route of what is now a busy main road, but she never had money for the trams so always walked the trip.

We didn't chat for very long, and I wish we could have talked for longer. I was stunned when she told me she would be 99 next birthday. To look at her I would have assumed she was maybe in her late 70s, elderly but not nearing her century. What changes she has seen! As we turned into the shopping district of Newtown we talked about how the area had changed, and was changing, and how we both liked the way the King St south/St Peters area of King St seemed to be on the improve.

I was kind of sad to have to get off the bus, and told her how I had enjoyed chatting with her. She was really sweet and gave me a 1000 watt smile, and a pat on the arm that left me smiling and genuinely touched.

6 comments:

Calvin said...

That brought a smile to my face too. Thanks for sharing!

Babs said...

I know that feeling, I took a trip to WA by train, and there was this lady who was 98 years old, and she too was telling stories of what she had seen and the changes over the years, I found her fascinating and whenever she felt up for a chat, I would be there eagerly listening with fascination at what she had seen and experienced...that was 18 years ago and I still from time to time think about that trip and the facinating lady I met.

spyder said...

Your blog always brightens my day- thanks for sharing the blessings. (but not in a Goddy way, you understand)

The Other Andrew said...

Thanks for the comments guys, just thinking about her is still bringing a smile to my face a day later. I like to think that we both brightened each other's day a little, because she seemed pleased to have someone interested to chat with.

jason said...

wow!
just wonderful

Therin of Andor said...

My paternal grandmother used to tell the same (many) stories over and over, till everyone in the family almost knew them by heart. She'd also tell any stranger on a bus.

She's been gone for over twenty years now and the rich detail of her stories of her childhood in country NSW, and as a young married woman starting a family in Petersham, have almost faded from my memory. No one in my family thought to make audio recordings at the time, I guess because we never thought we'd forget them.

Great blog post, TOA!