I did not know her well. In fact I only met her once. Already immobile and living in a chair. That was about a year ago. Her husband had that patient nurturing quality which is always so impressive to me . “Its her turn to be looked after now” he said, and it was clear that he had to do everything for her: cooking cleaning, moving her in and out of bed, bathing and anything else you could think of. He was proud to do it. He treasured her time with him. It wasn’t more complicated than that.
Now she’s gone. She died this weekend and here we were, in the evening, sitting with a few of the relatives and people who knew him. He sat there just the same. Gentle, unassuming and with no sense of drama in his bearing. Losing her was the work of fate and he accepted it. How he will manage without her by his side, and for how long, is anyone’s guess, but he will not burden you with his thoughts or grief.
How he stood out for me: this peaceful gentle man. Living an unremarkable life, in an unremarkable street in a suburb largely without landmarks or outstanding features and yet being one of the most impressive, quiet and distinguished people you could come across. His dignity and presence gave a value to the room, but he was unaware of it. The love his son’s and relatives had for him bore witness to his character and his feelings for his wife. Meeting someone who impresses me makes me think.
In strict contrast to my impression of that dignified gentleman, I am repelled by certain aspects of modern life, where “marketing” has become the new spear with which we hunt for food. Where being noticed is the heart of being paid, and where a function is not as important as the brochure which advertises it.
Does that make me wise or insightful. No it makes me a fool who wanders round my life largely unarmed, wondering why food is hard to find.Who scours the landscape for that selfless act which sets a man apart from those around him. Who thinks that purity of heart and spirit are more important than gold, and has the wallet to prove it.
In some age, largely mythical I am sure, men were appreciated for what they were, and people either worked the land or died. No man could earn a living selling fake cures or wonder diets or any other easy route to paradise , where the lack of value or merit only became clear long after the quack was gone. Friendships grew through experience, one of the other, and through loyalty. Not by the swift networking of those who escape one situation by creating another to hide in, before moving seamlessly onto a third.
Will my viewpoint make a difference to anything. No
I am like some primitive man, howling on a hillside while better dressed passers-by smile at my harmless madness. I accept this, but somehow I believe that if I can get one person to take a second glance or pause for thought it might have been worth it. Is that what art does. Does it make you think awhile. I’ll feed on that question for a moment. Food for thought remains one of my most enticing meals. And meeting people who impress me.