"There is both a wildness and sensitivity in all of us that is capable of either crushing or caressing what we touch in life.
Most of us are capable of recognising raw beauty or appreciating the bravery of an act. Yet there are but few capable of smelling the fragrance of a flower whose scent has passed and whose stem remains a shadow of its former self in more ragged body form as it droops evermore towards the ground.
I remember standing in a post office queue when I was eight years old. Two places in front of me was an old woman with a curved spine that made her face constantly look towards the ground. She was aided by a walking stick and moved very slowly. She appeared to be in her eighties.
Behind her and immediately in front of me in the queue was a loud and somewhat coarsely-spoken woman in her forties who was clearly impatient by the slow movement of the queue. As the queue progressed closer towards the counter, the old woman momentarily faltered in her step and paused for breath; thereby creating a space in front of her. Upon seeing this space, the woman behind her jumped her place in the line and moved ahead of the old woman.
'Do you mind?' the old woman said to the queue jumper, 'but you have just taken my place.'
In an angry voice the impatient queue jumper replied, 'And who do you think you are granny? You're too old to be out and about anyway. You're just a twisted old woman with an old stick. You should let the Nursing Home collect your pension and stop holding up the traffic!'
The old lady looked up towards the rude woman and politely replied, 'If you must know, my name is Mildred Sayer; 'Miss' Mildred Sayer to you and Milly to my very close friends and remaining family members. Today I may not appear as swift on my feet as I once was, but I'll have you know that I got a silver cup for winning the mile when I was fourteen years old. At the age of sixteen, I was a beautiful young girl with the finest set of curls that ever crowned a maiden's head. I worked in the civil service during the war years and after the war, despite receiving four proposals of marriage; one from a Prussian prince and all of which I declined, I decided to live in India for fourteen years running an orphanage for abandoned children. At the age of 64 years I was awarded the CBE for my services to humanity and when I was 74 years old, I survived two operations to remove cancerous tissue from my body. I am now in my eighty fourth year and though the curvature of my spine prevents me from looking you directly in the face, your overall tone and demeanour denotes you as a person who has fallen foul of life and out of love with herself. Oh, and by the way, you are not the first person to see me as an old woman of insignificance with a stick and you no doubt won't be the last, but be not mistaken; I am much much more than your eyes can see.'
While I cannot recall with the passage of time that has lapsed the precise words that the elderly lady spoke, they approximate the sentiments that I've unfolded above and which my fading memory can accurately bring to mind." William Forde: November 14th, 2014.