|Tea With a Stranger|
|Date:||Sun, 09 Mar 2003 18:11:58 -0600|
|I met an elderly woman on my flight from Melbourne to Tasmania a few weeks
ago. I would guess her age was around 85 years old. But it often hard for
me to tell after the age of 70 because your looks start to reflect the
amount of sun damage, smoke damage, alcohol damage and just general diet
that you have endured. This lady was delightful. She was wearing a little blue
dress with a little matching hat, shoes and handbag. She had several gray
hairs growing out of her chin and her lipstick was a bit askew. Other than
that, she was very “put together”.
She had been in Melbourne to go to as friend’s 95th birthday party. We were
on a short hop Qantas Link service and those planes do not have a first
class. We were in the
told the businessman behind us that she was “quick going down the
stairs”…she refused to get old. I found that inspirational.
During the flight we chatted about her garden and the upcoming Launceston
Cup horse race coming up in Tasmania. She invited me to her house for tea
later that week. I thought, why not? She told me her name was “Lewis”.
Sure enough, on a rainy, dreary Friday she phoned my flat and said she
would collect me in an hour. She still drove; although not really that
well. Come to find out, she lived alone in a national registered mansion
(built in the 1800’s) just on the edge of Hobart in an area called Sandy Bay.
There were old fashioned fireplaces in every room with beautiful wood carved
There were priceless antiques from England and all kinds of china
and collectibles displayed. The parlor, where we had tea, had a beautiful
chandelier. We sipped on Earl Grey tea and sampled some of her home made
biscuits and cookies. We chatted about her children and life in the port
town of Hobart, Tasmania. She seemed to have a busy agenda for someone 85
years old. But I could also see how loneliness would engulf her in that
giant home with only the sounds of the 18th century clock collection to keep
She took me for a stroll in her acre garden. She has lived there for over
50 years and has planted everything in that garden. It was obviously still
her favourite pastime as she picked fresh fruit for me to eat off the trees
and the snipped a few of the most beautiful scented roses I have ever
smelled. The garden won Australia’s Better Homes & Gardens “Garden of the
Year” in 1996.
It was a nice diversion after spending several days alone exploring the city
on my own. You see, the older woman AND the younger woman were both a bit
***2016 Note: I did not have my camera with me that day. However, I did a bit of research and found the home listing and grabbed a few photos from it. I was thrilled to find it after all these years. She has passed away, but her sweet memory lives on with me. Even though we were only together for a brief moment in time.