“A comfortable old age is the reward of a well-spent youth.”
Today’s post has nothing to do with job hunting, and everything to do with human spirit.
I dedicate this to a woman who came into my workplace and pressed pause on the chaotic shuffle of my life. She embodied this principle of a “well-spent youth” and left me spellbound, transported through layers of history to years gone by. The spontaneous interview was much to short, yet left an indelible impression on my mind of the richness of life.
She was celebrating 90 years of life, and the 10 minutes of it that she shared with me was captivating:
A welder before the war, this woman personified the iconic role of “Rosie the Riveter” while our boys were fighting for freedom. There were perilous times when she caught fire because she didn’t have a leather welder’s apron, receiving burns on her chest and shoulder, yet quitting was not an option. The temptation to quit in the face of difficulty was probably just as strong as it would be today, but from what she described, it was not as readily accepted. Those were days when loyalty, dedication, and commitment meant something, when strength meant holding on with unwavering conviction to a higher set of ideals.
Considering her strength of character, the fact that she joined the service should surprise no one.
Talking about her service in Germany brought a wistful smile and a handsome German man into the room (well, not literally). He was the one she was going to run away with, yet on that fateful morning amidst the crush of passengers at the train station, she was utterly alone with the acrid taste of smoke and tears. He never appeared, and their brief romance was suspended in a mist of “what-if’s.”
The depth of emotion in her eyes was spellbinding – more palpable emotion by far than any film could produce. This was a rare gem in my day, and it made me realize that the very fact we are living makes our lives beautiful, full of unique struggles and triumphs that weave the exquisite tapestry of our existence.
And just like that, she was gone. A brief portal was opened to bygone decades, leaving me to revel in the sweet juxtaposition of the past and possibility of a future just as vivid.
Everyone has the capacity to inspire, it’s just a matter of whether we take the time to listen.