On my walk this morning, I stopped to chat with a very elderly man on a mobility scooter. It was a glorious, sunny day with a light breeze, the kookaburras were chortling in the gum trees and the sky was that impossible shade of Sydney blue. We talked for a while about our appreciation of Nature and then, to my amusement and surprise, he flirted with me in a wry, self-deprecating way.
It was over in a moment, and the conversation turned to other subjects, but the twinkle remained in his faded blue eyes.
He was a sweet soul and his attempt at gallantry bore none of the hallmarks of entitlement or predation found among men with an exaggerated sense of their own attractiveness. I discerned that it was simply part of the joy of a sunny morning, of finding a woman who would stop to chat and laugh with him: who would notice him as a person.
I was moved by his self-awareness and the poignancy of old age: the young man trapped in an old man’s body, who still yearns for romance and the potency of youth.
I felt compassion for him, but not sorrow. He was happy with his life and spoke of how our encounter had made his morning, simply because it was delightful to share his enjoyment of the beautiful day with someone who understood.
These fleeting connections remind us that we are not alone, that we all struggle with the problems of ageing – but that we still have our dreams and the pleasures of laughter on a late summer morn.