The Retirement Home, Also Known As a Memory Warehouse

We sat in the coffee lounge this morning with an older couple. It was their 60th wedding anniversary and they were celebrating over a cup of coffee and reminiscing about their wedding day and the state of the world on that auspicious day in their long lives. They are both in their 90’s, both sharp-witted and completely up to date with the latest news. Unfortunately their physical condition isn’t that great. I found their store of memories fascinating – stories from another world. I asked them if they had written down or recorded their early lives for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but they shook their heads. “We never thought anyone would be interested in our stories,” they said.

We all think about writing our memoirs at one time another but few of us do it. Granted it is a huge task and takes enormous energy and willpower to sit hunched over a computer for months on end, banging out details of one’s life and then, if one does complete the task, facing months and months of editing and correcting. And unless one is a “world figure” do the adventures and deeds of our early days mean anything to anyone else other than ourselves? The world moves on and the past remains stuck in the past.

As a young boy during the Second World War I collected newspaper clippings and articles about the latest battles and other earth-shattering events. 50 years later when I wanted to dispose of them no one was the slightest bit interested. Finally a War Museum grudgingly took them – and probably disposed of them as soon as I had left.

But here in the retirement home the memories live on, shared by people whose lives spanned the same periods of history.


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