On 6 June, my godmother Maud will be 93. She’s a tiny, twinkle-eyed lady, just under 5 feet tall and weighing less than 7 stone (98 lb). She has always walked everywhere she goes, rather than taking the bus, goes to a tea dance every Friday afternoon and, until a few years ago, she cycled and swam regularly every week. Fitness has always been a way of life for her. She lives alone, fending for herself, with a little help from her son and neighbours. A very independent, self-sufficient person.
Shortly before Christmas 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. She went into hospital in the morning, underwent surgery and was back home for tea in the afternoon. Maud believes in mind over matter: and in her case, it seems to work. She made an excellent recovery, and was soon leading her normal active life once more, though her pace was perhaps a little slower.
Every other Friday afternoon, after her dance, Maud drops in on my mother for a cup of tea, a piece of homemade cake and a chat. Last time she was due, she didn’t appear. Eventually we discovered through the local grapevine why: she had been in hospital for two weeks.
“Oh, I’m fine now,” she said cheerfully when we phoned, concerned, to find out what had happened and how she was. “I had a nasty fall. Nothing broken, but a bit bruised so they kept me in … well, actually, I didn’t fall, it was more that I was pushed.”
She explained that she had been to the shop for a few odds and ends, and on her return had been mugged on her doorstep. “I was putting the key in the door, and next thing I knew, my neighbour was picking me up off the floor and my bag had gone.”
Nobody saw her attacker, who ran off with her bag containing the paltry sum of £3.50 (about US$5 ), a few tomatoes and some frozen food. This is the second time that Maud has been mugged outside her own front door, yet she lives in a quiet residential street in a decent law-abiding suburb, not some unsavoury area.
“I’m getting better,” she said. “It’s not so bad, not like an illness where you don’t know if you are going to recover or not. So I’m lucky, really. Still, I’d like to get my hands on him!”
She is having to use a walking frame, but is confident that she will soon be able to manage without it. “Then I’ll come and see you. Have to make the most of this nice weather.”
Her chief incentive for getting well is her upcoming birthday. Her granddaughter will be 18 two days after Maud turns 93, so they are planning a family celebration. And she intends to be able to dance at the party.
Coincidentally, a friend sent me this around the same time as Maud’s “mishap” occurred. I think it sums up her attitude.