by Captain Trevor Jackson
I was at the checkout in Woolies a while back, getting frustrated. There was this woman in front of me unpacking her trolley at a pace that even the most patient amongst us would consider mind-numbingly slow. One can of peas… stop to consider, put it back, pick up a different can of peas… Yes this one first I think. She had on a bright red dress, silver-grey hair, pencil-thin wrists, bright red lipstick and PERFECT teeth. She seemed sweet enough and since I was in no rush I stood back and watched the scene unfold. About ten minutes went by until it was established that her total came to $62.90. Another few minutes rolled by while she fumbled with her change, in the end she had the EXACT money. Like she’d been adding it up with a calculator as she went around the store. I was becoming intrigued.
The cashier had now moved on to me, but the old lady’s bags were still sitting at the end of the checkout. I thought I might lend her a quick hand so I walked forward and asked … “Can I help you put these in your trolley?” She flashed me those teeth in agreeance and giggled as the big strong gorilla zipped up her chilly bag and flexed his young[ish] muscles in assistance.
“Lifting those can be quite hard at my age”, she quipped. “When I was born my father was off fighting in the war”… I was instantly besotted with her and asked if she needed me to help her to the bus or even give her a ride home. She waved me away as if to say ‘Don’t make a fuss’. As she turned to leave I asked her. ‘“Was your father off fighting the Germans or the Japanese?” For a moment she blushed, then her words stopped me where I stood… “Are you trying to flatter me young man, my father was off fighting the Turks!”, then added, “My name is Violet and I’m over 100 years old!”
So now I literally begged her to let me drive her home. We idled down to the car park and chatted about all the things she had seen in that remarkable century. We talked about her marriage, her kids, the moon landings, heck we even talked about COVID 19! Pulling up to the little bungalow she’d called home for 50 odd years, I felt compelled to ask : “Hey Violet, any regrets?” “Only one”, she responded, “I’ve lived almost my whole life in Queensland, and I’ve never seen the reef.” and with that, she was gone.
Her words hung in the car all the way home, “I’ve never seen the reef”.
Two weeks later, on the calmest day I’ve ever seen, with a besotted gorilla clutching her hand, Violet saw the reef. Don’t dream about it.
Life’s awesome. Be like Violet. See the reef!
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