Driving along yesterday after the weekly supermarket trip, I was waiting at the traffic lights, looked down and thought “Good Lord, I’ve got my mother’s hands”.
This was not a pleasant reaction – they are getting wrinklier by the day (probably due to the extra hand washing) and it stopped me in my tracks with the realisation that I really am no longer 21! If she were still here, she’d have snorted with laughter. She wouldn’t have tolerated such introspection and would have then reminded me of how many things I have to be grateful for, including having two hands in the first place!
Born in the mid 1920’s her father died when she was 18 months old from wounds received in World War 1. Abandoned by her father’s family, she and our grandmother lived with our great grandparents until she married. She went to work at 16 in the War Office during World War 2, after she joined the Wrens, and used to walk home from Central London through the bombed out sights in the early hours of the morning, to her home in Beckenham, Kent. It saved her pennies on the tram which she put towards her wedding to our father in 1947. She would have been 96 this year. In recent weeks I’ve been glad for the first time she isn’t experiencing the current situation (she died in 2017) but also I’ve been missing her pearls of wisdom.
The recent coverage of Capt Tom Moore’s wonderful dedication to raising funds for the NHS reminded me of her attitude to challenges she faced. That stoic facade their generation embodied was the watchword for courage and bravery. Doing what was right, not expecting any thanks or gratitude, but adapting to ever changing scenarios and situations allowed them to make the best of it and to overcome the uncertainty of the times they lived through.
We have been in lockdown for 5 weeks now – they were at war for over 6 years and they had no certainty of how things would pan out. The enemy may have been visible rather than invisible, but no one knew what the final outcome would be.
We will hopefully achieve a vaccine and be able to contain our unseen enemy. They had to trust in themselves and one another that they could overcome the threat they faced. The ever changing face of wartime had to be met regardless how much it frightened them.
Our VE Day celebrations will be very different from those planned. We were due to meet with family but these activities will now be on hold and hopefully by VJ Day in August, we’ll be able to have some sort of national celebration.
Change is scary. It can be frightening and unsettling. It leaves you with a sense of no control over what is happening. But as Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher said “The only constant in life is change”.
Our mother would have said “Pull up your big girl pants and get on with it!” which isn’t quite as poetical but does make you realise that there are many who are facing huge challenges with the changing picture of our current situation.
So, the Lesson from Lockdown this week is be grateful for what you have; accept the changes as they occur and remember that whilst we may not be able to control those changes, we can definitely control our reactions to them.
If you would like to read our other Lessons from Lockdown, visit our blog page