I was in small cafe last week, I ordered a salad lemon water, looked around for seat. Lunch time was just over still very busy, a couple in front of me remarked we are not sitting there next to that old man. So I quickly grabbed the seat. As I opened my salad, I looked up and said hello, he was stooped over his cup of tea, his head hung down, he was smartly dressed, clean shaven gray hair neatly cut, and lines of wisdom etched on his face. He nodded and smiled. I found this elderly gentlemen quite fascinating, because he was just people watching. I said to him, I am sure this era is very different to when you were young, I wanted to hear about his day, hence me asking.
Oh yes he said, there was none of these cafe’s internet, packaged foods, we had to make our own entertainment, we had a community people rallied together, if someone was in trouble, we would all pitch in. It was safe to walk in the street, without fear of being attacked for what is in your pocket. We did not have lot food, we had ration books, cup sugar once week, if we were lucky. But there was great sense of togetherness, you never felt alone a helping hand open door, someone alway around to talk to or with. In the war we did not have much, but we appreciated what we did have. He started to tell me about his father who was at one time a soldier, he said the soldiers in that era were called Tommy’s. Oh why was that I asked, Well when the French wanted to speak to British soldier in the trenches they would shout out Tommy, to get attention. Hence the word has stuck, you don’t hear about it much today but Tommy was a word everyone knew. My father told me at the night it was very hard in the trenches, because he was so cold, mud, dirt, all around, guns being fired. When I was boy we used to have to get up in the middle of the night and go to the shelters, that was world war 2. We would often go to bed hungry, but it was ok because we had each other, that is what community brings, you feel part of. Today everything is divided.
I listened intently to this story, almost an hour had gone by. I thanked the man who told me his name was Bertie, before he stood up, he shook my hand, thank you he said I have had wonderful day, your the first person I have had conversation with for two months. Before Bertie went I said to him he was wonderful story teller, I asked him would he be interested in telling some stories. Yes he replied, I have lived alone for some 10 years since my wife Vera passed, my children are in Australia, just me on Jessie my black cat. Give me your address I am sure I can help.
It made me realize how many people in the world are lonely, if your 10 or 90 years old you can still feel lonely, no one has anytime. So many divisions in society exist, with politics, varying views, cultures religions language barriers, People need to unite, divisions are negative they separate, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.. It costs nothing to help someone who is lonely, this gentlemen made me see just how selfish we can be, only looking at our own needs. I spent one hour of my day eating lunch which made someone feel they had voice which mattered. By listening I showed I cared, there was relevance purpose in what he said. Do you know anyone who may be lonely? If you put your thinking cap on some will spring to mind. The break down of communities, transient work force, you’ll be amazed how many people you know are lonely. May be they lost partner a job, no confidence, perhaps a child has lost parent. Whatever the case, it is a symptom in our society, that causes stress, depression, anxiety that can affect health. It is a real problem in this century, even the British government have a minister specifically for this topic. A smile, a hug, hello, how are you? How is your day, Can I help you? Simplicity with a massive meaning. Open your eyes, be aware, an act of kindness for lonely soul, will make their day, it will make you feel worthwhile 🙂 Try it and see.