5 May 2013

She was born in 1910.

Four generations of Hilda
My husband's grandmother died last month at the age of 102.  She'd lived a whole lot longer than she'd expected to live and probably longer than she would have chosen.  But she lived a long time and was loved the whole time and there is no better eulogy to be had when all is said and done.

She was born in Salford, England in 1910 and I have been thinking about the world she was born into and the world she left and all that happened in between and it's pretty freakin' amazing even taking just a very few differences into account.

1. In 1910, she was born and named Hilda.  In 2013, she would have been born and named Hyl-dah.
2. Crosswords don't exist yet.  Sudoku isn't going to be invented for another 70 plus years and it's not going to be a 'global phenomenon  for another 95 years.
3. Powered flight is less than ten years old.  People going abroad still do it by boat.  People going abroad is not all that common unless they are emigrating permanently.  Fleeing oppression and poor living conditions - seeking a better life.  I think you can see where this is going - yes? Some things don't change - it's no less acceptable because the countries of origin have changed. 
4. The world wars are not history.  They are the future.  Like time travel is still in our future but probably inevitable because there is no way that Michael J Fox would ever lie to me. 
5. Picasso is not one of the greats, in fact - people haven't heard of him and if they have, they're not impressed.
6. Queen Elizabeth II is not on the throne, she's not even born and when she is she's not part of the succession planning.  In fact this is the year that Edward VII dies. In 2013, it's hard to imagine that anybody other than dear Lizzy has ever been in charge of England.  
7. Daylight saving as a concept is still most of a decade away.  If people's curtains fade or the cows don't produce milk they have nothing to blame but poor housekeeping or witchery. 
8. Traffic lights do not exist.  People barely drive.  Henry Ford is just putting together his first production line.  Cars are not normal.  They're a rarity, an oddity, an indulgence.  They definitely don't have speed cameras. 
9. There is no penicillin. It has not been invented and wont be for a while yet.  In 2013, people in the first world will have been so blessed with an absence of childhood destroying diseases due to the medical advances of the last 100 years that they will become complacent and smug resulting in a surge in diseases not seen since early in the 20th century.  
10. In 1910, the Old Trafford in Manchester is opened and is the largest stadium in England.  In their first game they beat Liverpool by one point. In 2013, this game is, bafflingly, still really popular and more divisive than anything else in the world.  

The list goes on, in 1910 the first double decker bus was built, the Scouts and Guides were founded, Westminster Cathedral was consecrated, people trotted off to the South Pole, the suffragettes were not having a great time of it, The Royal Australian Navy was created and Harry Houdini was responsible for the first powered flight in Australia.  When you look at so many things that we accept as fact, as common knowledge, all are products of only 102 years of thinking.

And through all these 'newsworthy' items, people like Hilda are living their own lives, forging their own histories with their own highlights, their own successes, their own conundrums.  And we, at whatever age we are now, we are on our own journey and whether we make it to 102, 82, 42 - we all have something to contribute and we all matter to somebody.  Our significant dates will matter even if they are not documented in the history books.

And that, that is the most marvellous thing about lives like the life Hilda lived.  For her it was every day, unexceptional probably most of the time.  But yet she loved and was loved, she produced a child, had friends and family.  Her presence lives on in memories, stories, habits and beliefs.  Her imprint is indefinable, it's inescapable.  And we all, however our lives translate, leave a similar imprint.  

And that is a pretty awesome concept.  It's a beautiful legacy. And for my beautiful man and my two beautiful daughters, I say thank you Hilda.