In every family and in every community there will always be iconic figures and in my family “Missie” or Aunt Sylvia, to use her formal name, gave us a towering example of how to navigate the oceans of life regardless of the weather. I asked myself recently, “Was she happy?” and the answer must be that, whether she was or not happy in any particular moment, she never complained or muttered about life or her situation. She had no breath saved for complaining but always sought some reason to be positive or forward thinking regardless of her current circumstances. This was the heart of her inspirational standing in my family.
Towards the end of her life, she died at one hundred years of age, she was in hospital suffering from an infection. When I rang her she said, “Entertainment is low, but there are seagulls dancing, Dancing on the grass” and then she chuckled at the wonder of it all. She was not really interested in a conversation about her health but only in the view going forward, and that is her lesson to us all.
She was just over one hundred years old when she died. At the age of twenty three she was in Vienna when Hitler’s troops moved into the city near the start of the war in which her loved then fiancé died in a submarine. She was a more than gifted pianist, trained at the Royal College of Music but most of all she was a gutsy, uncrushable walker of life, mother of four children by my Uncle, a much-loved character himself, and always she was armed by a deep faith in her god and the beauty of awareness. I shall miss her dearly: she brought music to all that knew her.