The planets must have been aligned for longevity in March 1921 because this year, in my small circle of friends and family there were three celebrating their 90th birthdays. We thought it was to be four but one of my neighbours had miscalculated Mr P.’s age and he was a youngster of 89 years!

The first birthday was Uncle P.’s.  He has lived in the same mining village in the South Wales valley all his life, except for the time he spent in the forces during WW2.  He was the youngest of a large family and although he has never married he has always been very much involved with the lives of his nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and now his great-great nieces and nephews.

He is a well known figure in his community and very convivial. In recent years he has helped to set up a small museum to commemorate the miners who lost their lives in a mining disaster nearly a century ago. He loves to be taken to concerts in the St. David’s Hall, or out for family celebrations and is a keen supporter of Wales and Cardiff rugby teams.

The second bithday was my cousin Mabel. She was the second daughter in a family of six. We lived a bus ride away from them and spent many of our wartime Christmases with them and I have many happy memories of those times.

She joined the WAAFs at the beginning of the war and there met,  Bill, a Cockney who stole her heart and I was their bridesmaid when I was about three years old. They were happily married for many years until Bill’s death in the 1990s. Since her widowhood she has lived alone, but she has many friends and a close relationship with her three children and their families. A few years ago she and her brother went off on a Caribbean cruise and since then she has taken several short holidays every year. This year she already has four holidays booked.

The third was N., a neighbour just a few doors away. She was born and bred in Cardiff and moved into this house soon after it was built 25 years ago. She loves a good gossip and is a fount of knowledge on local matters and the history of who lived in these houses. Sadly her only daughter died a few years ago, but her son-in-law and granddaughter helped her celebrate her birthday.

All three of these remarkable people were born just after a decade when so many people died, mining disaster,  WW1, Spanish ‘Flu. Their childhoods were lived through a National Strike, the Wall St crash and the following depression and unemployment, when there was very little help from the State and then, just as they were coming to adulthood the world was once more plunged into war for 6 years, followed by the austerity of the 1940s.

Despite all this they are all reasonably fit and mentally alert. They lead independent lives with little outside help and seem to enjoy each day as it comes.

I remember during the last depression in the early 1990s talking to Bill and he shrugged it off and said, “Don’t worry about it. It will all come right, it always does!”

Maybe the hardships they suffered, especially in their formative years, has given them a sturdy constitution. Whatever it is I just hope that if I survive to 90, I will be as fit physically and mentally as they are.

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