Yesterday my wife and I set aside some time to meet with a neighbor.
A new neighbor in fact. A lady who has located to Victoria after her husband had retired.
They had lived and worked around Canada… in places as far flung as Halifax, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Regina.
She grew up in Germany and was a young child as Hitler was beginning his reign of terror on Europe.
She is actually an amalgam of German and Danish. A handsome and studied woman, she had seen a lot of stuff in the mid-forties – and although just a child at the time (she) formed a solid impression of what Nazism and Fascism truly represented. And how we need to be watchful even today.
And here she was in 2010 telling us about what life was like for a young girl in Nazi Germany and then for a young woman starting a new life in the West.
Her story has an interesting and tragic twist. Her husband and she had just started to settle in Victoria (in their late seventies and in perfect health) looked forward to the golden years pursuing their mutual passion of sailing and travel.
A freak accident however took her husbands life a few months ago – and now she has to carry on the journey alone. Sad.
In just under 3 hours we covered a stimulating chunk of Western history, from life in Germany in the War to new beginnings in Canada in the late 50’s – The magic of Canada in the 60’s – the evolution of the Canadian identity in the early 70’s and so on.
She has over 30 years on me, with a correspondingly more encompassing sense of the big picture and an acute sense of the absurd in how some aspects of Western society have remained virtually unchanged since the last Great War.
Sobering stuff indeed.
I learned a bunch of stuff from this gal. One of them is: Tomorrow really never comes. Every day really is your last until proven otherwise. Care for those around you. Love your friends. Leave your mind entirely open for new ideas. Embrace strangers because, hey, you never know.
Keeping doors open. It is what we all need to do.