Jessica Grewal and her grandma Rae MacAlpine.
Jessica Grewal and her grandma Rae MacAlpine. Contributed

Why we can't let their stories die with them

They say when an old person dies, a library burns. In recognition of the important role the Chronicle plays in ensuring stories are preserved for years to come, we are today launching a new section which will feature in your paper weekly. Here's why ...

HAD they seen her hunched over her walking frame, slowly making her way around the shopping centre with her aged-carer, they would not have given her a second thought.

They weren't to know that had they stopped to quiz her still-sharp mind, they could have learned about a time we are fast forgetting.

That she'd survived whooping cough before a vaccine had been invented.

That at just four she had lost her mother to blood poisoning in an era where contraceptives didn't exist, cost of living was crippling and backyard abortionists saw a business opportunity.

That she was smart enough to take on any career but was forced to drop out of high school to support the war effort in a tobacco factory.

That she had climbed into a backyard bunker in her Sydney backyard as Japanese torpedos penetrated the harbour.

That the milk truck driver she'd married was the son of one of 800 lighthorsmen who together with his bushy mates led the charge in the Battle of Beersheba and changed the course of World War One.

That the frail hands guiding the walker had helped build almost a dozen houses from scratch.

That doctors had warned her she would die by the time she was 40 but she would prove them wrong until the rich age of 88.

That she would pass peacefully less than two weeks before Christmas and take all of that rich history with her had she not shared it with her grandchildren.

I am proud she was my darling grandma and pity those who don't take the time to learn more about the people behind the grey hair and lines which are coming for all of us. Not everyone has a journalist for a granddaughter to keep their stories alive.

This revelation in a time of deep grief along with troubling new statistics which show ageism is a growing social failing, inspired the Chronicle's new section The Story Of ...

Each week we will take an in-depth look at the life of some of our incredible senior citizens.

With almost 30 percent of our population aged over 65, imagine the stories waiting to be told.

Details can be sent to jessica.grewal@frasercoastchronicle.com.au.



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