candles blown

In 1912 the Republic of China was proclaimed, 95 years before the first iPhone was put together there. It was also the year great aunt Grete was born.

My gran in law, now ninety, often says how my mum, in her mid sixties, is ‘such a spring chicken’, with so much ahead. If it’s about perspective she must be right. Granny never met great aunt Grete, who probably had her own distinct sense of what “old age” is.

I know little about her life, but got the impression of a strong character. To me she was a nice old lady from my earliest memories and from photos I have of us together. After childhood days I didn’t see her much, but visited more frequently in recent years with a family of my own, and a century-plus-year old relative to show off.

She was never frail or weak minded, not as I remember her. We last met on a flying visit to Austria last October. As usual she mentioned how she’s by far the oldest resident in the care home and asked how things are, chatting away, leaving me impressed with in what good shape she was once again.

For the past few years having a conversation had involved shouting at her right ear, which was semi-OK (the other one had gone deaf) and speaking extra clearly. Apart from that, she was spot on, observing carefully and with curiousity, often in for a laugh and generally content.

In 1917, she was the age my older daughter is now. I don’t even know how to begin to let that sink in. By the time she was my age, having made it through WWI, WWII was three years behind. Another step back to my great grandfather, her dad, who was born in the late 1800s, one of the foundations  her life was built on. Wow. I hope for my kids, and of course for myself and all my loved ones, to live a long and healthy life.

Tante Grete and the “Titanic” entered the world’s stage in the same year. 104 years after the ship’s tragic doom, she passed on peacefully this morning. I raise a dram to an exceptional lifetime, may it be an example (to begin with ,an option) to many, slàinte!

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