I was asked recently to do some magic as a favour for an old friend of mine at an old peoples home. I went along and saw primarily old ladies. Many in their 80's and 90's.The first thing that struck me were the many fingers dressed with wedding rings that had been placed their once upon a time by the hands of young men. There was one lady in a wheel chair that was sat at the front. It was her birthday, her old friends had all passed away and the children's children were grown up and living in another country with little children of their own who didn't speak English.I found a piano there and began to play all the old time songs and she was happily singing along, it reminded her of a time when she wore stylish clothes and lived near Hampstead. I made a joke about it being a jolly 30th birthday, we chatted. She spoke fondly of the past, her late husband, then further back again as a child growing up in St John's wood. The past was important to her on her birthday. Her duties had been completed and now she alone was the torch bearer of the memory of joys; hardships; sorrows; marriage; children; the 1930's; war and peace time.They brought her a cake, she was smiling and a bit teary eyed. She struggled to blow it out but they helped her. I wondered how it must feel knowing that your foreign great grand children will grow up knowing about you third hand. I also realised in that moment that I too, conversely have a lineage culturally rich with Italian ancestors to whom I owe something of who I am today.Did they ever wonder if they would live to see their great-grandchildren or wonder if a future generation would be grateful for their sacrifice?
When we often look at a family tree, we see a name and someone tells us "that was your great great grandmother/father on your father/mothers side." Have I ever stopped to think one day that could be describing me?
The legacy of this old lady in the home quietly continues on through the generations and one day someone will wish they knew more, will research, will find photo's will visit an unknown country to see a place where someone lived but until that day, she must continue to be the sole torch bearer of her own memories.
Never underestimate the memories you build around you and in your life because one day, they too will be your destiny.