Mavis died a few weeks ago. Single, 89 a frail little lady. She had her friends in our street, as well she might. For she had lived all her life in the street. One of her neighbours was at her bed side for the final hours and several had kept a good eye on her in the years preceding her last months in a home. her house had to sold to pay for those months of care. I didn’t know her except by sight, she was as her friends told me a very private person.
Her parents had originally owned the house. Her father worked in the local artificial limb factory which was opened in near by Roehampton during the First World War. Mavis worked as a secretary in the NHS. The street was originally buit in 1880 so Mavis had lived in it for the majority of its existence. She had, as was common at one time, stayed on the family home and nursed her aged parents when their time came.
A life very different from the moderns. Of course not marrying changes a lot, it means that the impulse to set up an alternative nest is muted. The house we moved into had been inhabited by a young family for only six years before they moved on to a bigger home. Likewise our much missed next door neighbours moved to a bigger house and garden after only seven years. Seven years is the normal time people stay in a house.
In our case we moved from our bachelor quarters to our first communal home where we stayed five years and then to the house where we would stay for 26 years and bring up our family. That done we cashed in and moved down where we have happily been for seven years. A very normal cycle .
So Mavis was different. She never moved. She also came from a culture which stayed together. Families looked after each other,they had to. In our present culture the child that stays at home is considered a failure , the ambition is to produce autonomous, responsible, productive adults who fly the nest and set up on their own. I had an aunt,the youngest of four, who had to stay at home to look after her mother and only on her death was she free to start her own life and marry a widower.
But now of course we consign our aged parents to homes and pay people to look after them for us. Since you ask,step father, 100 year plus Hans is still alive, happy in his way. He can not leave the bed unattended and although I see him most weeks it is two years since I have had a meaningful conversation, actually ,make that fifty years.