Life can be so simple – and so good. Sometimes it just takes the right person or right people to remind you of that. I am currently at my parents’ place again, and today my great aunt came for a visit. An 83-year-old woman, she is still so vibrant and lively. She lives alone but takes good care of herself, lives in the busiest city of the country and travels from here to there by train. This morning, my mother picked her up from the train station and from the minute she came in I have enjoyed myself so much. At times I find it hard to “live in the moment”, and let moments pass by almost unnoticed. When I have something nice planned, I often cannot stop thinking about it and am beyond excited but as soon as the moment arrives, for some reason I cannot wait for it to be over. In those moments, I am already looking forward to the moment I can look back on that day – that I can look back on a great day. A great memory. I find it strange that I sometimes prefer happy memories to happy moments. Happy memories are easy to look back on, but happy moments are harder to create. Today was an exception.
We had a nice and quiet day, without doing too much, but just listening to my great aunt talking made me so happy. The way she speaks, witty and with so much enthusiasm, is very endearing. I love how she tells a story with a twinkle in her eyes and a mischievous look on her face – and then she laughs and gives me a quick wink. We went to a thrift store nearby because I needed something for my room, and she kept coming up with suggestions about how I could use this and that – all the while reminiscing about the past. “Oh, look! I used to have one of these when I was still living on 25 (before moving to her current apartment, she lived on number 25). I think I still have it somewhere, it must be in a drawer. And oh my, it is only 25 cents, how wonderful! Such good quality and only 25 cents!” I couldn’t help laughing. Afterwards, we had a nice little barbeque and we told her to just sit back on the garden bench and relax. She does not have the opportunity to eat outside very often as she does not have a garden herself, and from the content look on her face we could tell she was enjoying herself so much. Then she laughed again and joked about how particularly nice it was that she could just sit there and have everyone serve her, make her food and pour her drinks. Living on her own, she appreciated it tremendously that we did all of that for her (which was only a small effort for us, of course). And then, my favourite moment of the day – she leans back with a faint smile on her face and sighs: “We are so lucky. Life is good.”
I know that she has worked hard her entire life and faced some difficult times. To see her sitting in our small garden surrounded by only a few people and some good food, and still be so positive and still enjoy every moment, was very inspiring. Her ability to look at everything from the bright side is unremitting: after her small monologue about the advantages of studying and her belief that I will definitely find a job after finishing university because I am “such a clever girl”, I almost started to believe in it myself. If she can enjoy the smallest things in life – the different shapes and and colours of leaves, the way a magpie “arrogantly strutted from the church to the chapel” (her ability to describe scenes and people and animals is brilliant), a nice slice of cake with strawberries and whipped cream – then, surely, so can I?