Approximately 7 years ago I volunteered with Age Concern (now Age UK) in a befriending capacity. The person assigned to me was Joseph Jones from Rowley Regis, who at the time was 88 years old. Joseph lost his wife to cancer some 30+ years ago and is living at home on his own. He has one son who is now aged 69 and who also recently lost his wife to cancer.
The first thing that struck me about Joe was his general demeanour, he was, and still is, full of joy and has great energy which can be easily demonstrated by the amount of work he puts into the garden. To give you an idea, the front garden is raised and very steep, the back is wide and long. Not only does he maintain plants etc, he also regularly cultivates it in order to harvest fruit & vegetables. Now, I would struggle with this work but Joe at the current age of 95 just cracks on with it, doesn’t even give it a moment’s thought, although he does admit he has slowed down a little recently. How does he manage this? My personal view is ATTITUDE being the main player here; yes fortune to a degree does play a part I’m not denying that but having the mindset of not letting age influence what you can or can’t do helps massively. A mindset that doesn’t look at age, it looks at what needs to be done and does it. This in turn enables him to carry on with the gardening, this in turn keeps him fit, this in turn gives him a feel good factor and so it goes on! Couple this with an amazing disposition, a smiley face and a smiley character, to me it’s a perfect recipe.
What I love is the little things he really looks forward to. Since he lost his wife, each and every day without fail, before lunch he has a shot of whisky in his tea, followed straight away by a shot of whisky in his tea. No it’s not a typo, I did type it twice! So some good news there, a little and often is not a bad thing (although this is the only time he has alcohol). We worked out that throughout his 30 years of doing this he got through approx 672 bottles of whisky. Now I know some people in particular will look at this as good news but sadly for Vanessa, Lily & Abi I doubt if getting through that many bottles of Prosecco in an average month between them will count as healthy.
Now for those who don’t know, Joseph was a true war hero during WWII. He served in the navy and saw a lot of action which included a lot of death and destruction. To give you an idea about this man please click this link BBC – Joseph Jones Halesowen News – Joseph Jones Express & Star – Joseph Jones And yes it’s from the national BBC!!
The convoy mission destined for Russia depicted in the news reel encountered extremely harsh conditions and fraught with danger. So what did the servicemen received from our government in the way of recognition? Nothing! That’s despite many years of campaigning. It was the Russian’s who some 70 years on eventually presented them with their medal (see photo of Joe sitting holding the box) They did want to present these medals years earler but our government for some reason refused to let them. It’s only recently they capitulated and agreed to Russia issuing the medal and maybe as an act of not wanting to be seen as the bad guys finally gave their own ‘Artic Star’ metal. Sadly too little to late for most who served.
Apart for what’s written in the press two other events Joe informed me about that you may be interested in. He was on the ship ‘HMS Matchless’ when the Japanese surrendered due to the atom bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. The captain of a nearby Japanese ship came aboard and surrendered himself, crew and ship. This would have been an amazing experience, particularly as the Japanese are very honourable people and this would have been seen as an act of disgrace. The other story that comes to mind is the German Luftwaffe (German air force) was attacking his ship and Joe was on one of the guns, although he can’t be 100%, there is every chance it was he who shot the plane into the sea. When I asked “where you scared” he said “No, there was no time for that also the adrenaline was pumping like crazy”.
I will use this opportunity to say a big thank you to Joe along with those who fought and in particular those who lost their lives in exchange for the freedom we ALL experience today in this country.
BTW – next week will by first act of ‘planned’ discomfort.