My husband's aunt, 98 years old, died this week. She was a French lady who lived her life in the same country, possibly the same village, possibly almost the same house, for almost a century. What does that feel like, I wonder? To have lived through two world wars, and witnessed so many changes in the world - the advent of television, air travel, space travel, cars, computers, cell phones?
Is it possible that major changes happening all around could leave one unchanged? And if one does experience revelations, insight, enlightened thinking, revised belief - apart from getting older - what is the significance of such change kept to oneself?
I am just supposing that a person living 90 years must have all sorts of attitudinal and perspective upheavals. In less than 60 years, I have felt myself change every decade, sometimes in a year, or in a day!
What was her name, I ask my husband. I don't know I never met her, he says. Which is more final, the death, or the impossibility of ever meeting a person. Can we ever know who in the family has her traits, her nose, her airs, her prejudices, her carriage, her stubbornness or her generosity? Do photographs exist to show what she was like? Was she ever curious about her sister's family, the children now scattered far from France? Is it worthwhile to know?
Have we "progressed" to live so far from native tribal lands? Or would we be better off to have stayed round the same fires, facing inward to the same village green?