We got the bus from the airport for £2 and I’m glad we did. We caught the bus just before it left… and we ended up sitting in one of the front seats revered for elderly / disabled, with our luggage.
I don’t think she noticed before she got on, but I made room for her by getting Fit Girl to move to another seat, and stood so she could have the most accessible seat on the double decker.
She was very vocal and grateful for the driver for waiting for her. And she continued to be vocal with me. She asked if I was on holiday, and where from. Then she proceeded to tell me quite a bit of her life story as the bus pootled along to St Helier.
Hilary came to Jersey in 1951, originally for a year, then she stayed. She was 22 when she came here, and now, a lifetime later, she’s 86. She was a teacher for 40 years, of seniors and juniors and she travelled the world (too many places for me to recount).
She had a radio show for 6 months one year, whee she talked about her stories, until one day she realised she had no stories left. And she couldn’t make them up.
It was her first time into the town on the bus for 3 years since she had her last stroke (she’s had 2). And she said she was ‘determined’ to get better. She’s lost the use of her legs in the last stroke, but she’d built them back up and was able to walk short distances now.
She used to walk for miles along the front, but now she talked of horrible old age getting the better of her. But she was determined to get the better of it.
She there was no point in sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself, when you could’ve out and about and challenging yourself. She said she phoned her friend up and said she was going to come into town and they’d have coffee. And if she didn’t make it and had to go home, at least she’d know she tried.
When we got off the bus at the Central bus station, she took time out to show us the information point and where we could get a map and bus timetable. I shook her hand and told her my name, thanked her and told her told her to take care and take is easy.
I think I’ll remember Hilary for a long time – a friendly, chatty and wonderful woman. And what an insight into a woman’s life, who is over 50 years ahead of me in life, just on a 20 minute bus ride into town.
Here’s to the next 50+ years for me! (Fingers crossed).