by Dr Keith J. White &, davidlane
Posted on April 1 2015
It was a strange day not only by normal standards, but also for me, in that I spent it with people whose ages spanned 100 years. Yet on reflection I realised that some of the connections between the generations could not have been closer or clearer.
In the afternoon I was with Ben, who is 102 years old. His daughter had phoned me in the morning to tell me that his condition had deteriorated and that he had been moved from his home into a nursing home. When Ben was a boy he had lived at Mill Grove where he was cared for by my grandparents, Herbert and Edith White. He then emigrated to Canada before returning to the UK and joining the 10th Hussars. He and his wife had one child, a daughter, who now lives in the USA. She had flown over to Essex to be alongside her father and to help with the move.
Before entering Ben’s room in the nursing home both his daughter and a neighbour had tried to prepare me for the change that I would notice since I was last with him (actually on his 100th birthday). And this was helpful. He was sleeping or dozing in an armchair and had aged visibly. I walked over to him and mentioned my grandfather’s name. He responded immediately, looking up and smiling. He spoke to me as if I were my father, whom he knew as a little boy. And when I mentioned Harry, Will, Olive, Ewart (others who lived at Mill Grove during the same time as Ben), we were away. I reminded him that for years he used to phone us …