My late aunt Sue, my mother's sister, was an amazing woman; sadly I didn't discover this until after her death a couple of years ago when I heard her life story, delivered emotionally by her younger brother at her funeral. Sue suffered for the last 15+ years of her life from the crippling rheumatoid arthritis, and yet my over-riding memories of her are that she was always cheerful, and she never talked about it. She always wanted to talk about what we were doing, hear the news and she loved a good chatty letter. An enquiry 'how are you?' was invariably met with the reply 'But tell me what you've been up to!'
In her youth Sue travelled and did things that were considered outrageously risky for a single woman alone abroad (and probably still would be now); she had what was called 'spunk' in those days. On her return to the UK she was secretary to a bishop (or something similar) and worked at Southwark Cathedral for many years, which included meeting the Queen. Sue was always terribly sensible and very organised, and being the eldest child I imagine she was rather bossy; however I can't help thinking that she harboured an inner spark.
I always had respect for Sue, and when I heard the stories about her adventures I so wished I'd known about them when she was alive, so I could have asked her about them. Still, thinking about her makes me smile at her strength and character.
I was reminded of her over the last couple of weeks, because I can now totally sympathise with her desire to talk about anything other than herself and her situation. When you are immobilised and can't just go out without the aid of others, life seems terribly dull; and you live with your limitations, pain and difficulties every day, so don't want to talk about them when you have the chance for more interesting conversation.
When you talk to people on the phone or go out, or friends visit, more often than not you don't want to talk for more than the intitial 5 minutes about how you are feeling, or coping. What you want to talk about is what is happening in 'the outside world' and what your friends and family are doing; you want to catch up with the gossip and revel in other people's adventures.
I hope that I have inherited some of my aunt's outlook on life, and I will admit that I might have inherited some of my stubbon independence from her as well, in a good way of course....