One evening, during our recent vacation in the Alps, my husband and I just so happened to watch the special broadcast of CNN Top 10 Heroes of 2008 on TV. It is not our usual ritual to sit in front of the TV but I was glad we did so that night.
We were touched, moved and inspired by extraordinary deeds accomplished by ordinary people around the world. Totally selfless in helping to improve others’ lives.
It made me reflect and think. I am not anything close to these people but I am thankful that I have personally met Heroes in my Life whom have inspired and touched me in the deepest way.
During our camping trip in Chamonix, last summer, we met an old couple, Andrew, 81 and his wife, 79. They were on their 3 months summer vacation, camping around Europe. Andrew drove an old Land Rover Jeep towing an old camper van all the way from Great Britain. This wasn’t the first time they had done so. They did that many years back, when his wife was still ‘healthy’.
Andrew’s wife was suffering from Dementia where her memory and other cognitive function was failing. She couldn’t recall that her father had passed away more than 20 years ago and sometimes whined to go back to his father’s house.
Andrew himself was not perfectly healthy. He walked with a limp and had a heart bypass surgery a few years back. The surgery almost took his life, but he was back then, hiking and camping in the Alps. He was happy and even danced a little to show us that he was alive and back to enjoy life, rejoicing his triumph.
Everyday, despite his limp, Andrew would walk to the public tap area to fetch buckets of water to his van. He cooked and took care of his wife.
Every evening, after the sun set, from our tent, we peeked at the silhouettes of 2 people. Andrew serving his wife and both of them enjoying dinner in the van. They drank wine, they knocked their glasses. They reminded me of newly weds.
Andrew had told us that taking care of his wife kept him very busy and left him with little energy. He told us how much he loves his wife though at times she drove him crazy when she behaved nonsensically, such as not remembering where they were and who he was.
Sometimes in the midst of our conversation, he would excuse himself to rush off to prepare meals. Due to his slow movement, he took longer than usual to do simple task. But it didn’t deter him.
Andrew used to be a photo journalist during world war 2, taking pictures during the war. He later on became a teacher, teaching psychology for many years before he retired.
He was then working on a project to help to bring water to some villages in Africa.
Andrew and his wife touched me in many ways.
It was apparent that behind this old and wrinkly physical outer shell, lies a man of knowledge, experience and wisdom.
Someone who is determined to take on life despite set backs.
Someone who sees life beyond his own.
Someone who understands love and responsibility more than what I can comprehend. He had proved that unconditional love exists beyond mother’s love.
I felt sad that how sometimes old age can render a person irrelevant.
It made me rethink about history, about love and about life.0