The country was saddened this week by the death of 2020’s most famous centenarian. Captain Sir Tom Moore’s legacy is not just the millions he raised for charity, but also he gave hope and inspiration to millions as well. His death from the virus that brought him to the forefront is a heartbreaking conclusion to the life of hope he represented for many people.
Anonymous numbers about cases and deaths and hospitalisations are everywhere, and they hinder us from attaching names, personalities, loved ones, and lives lived to the many thousands affected by COVID. For me, the most important aspect of Captain Sir Tom Moore’s legacy is that a person’s is of precious value right up to the end of it, however old or young they may be, and that everyone can contribute in ways they never even thought possible, whatever their age.
My Mum celebrated her 70th birthday in July, just as we had emerged from the first lockdown, and luckily we were able to meet up and celebrate (more about that here) – but I know she’d not been looking forward to it. I remember her mum, my Nannie, at 70 and I knew that Mum would be thinking about that too. My Mum is a lot more youthful than hers was at 70, but that won’t have stopped her from worrying about the same milestone approaching, and how life went for my Nan after that. Mum will have seen it as the Beginning of the End.
She’s also suffered the sadness of a divorce in the last couple of years, so life in retirement is already not turning out as planned. 2020 brought lockdowns and restrictions that kept us separated from her by many miles for much of it, including for the birth of her brand new grandson, my nephew. New year, new lockdown, and things have been looking pretty bleak.
Captain Sir Tom had a special place in her heart when he first shot to fame. A geriatric nurse by trade, Mum is a devoted believer in the value of life in old age, and his death has struck a real chord. It has opened up the potential of the next 30 years for her – the complete opposite of the doors which seemed to be closing to her all over the place.
Many opponents of the lockdown measures have used arguments about the proportion of deaths in the older age brackets compared with younger people, and at times there’s been a nasty whiff of some lives having more value than others, especially if they have few more years on the clock than others. It’s an abhorrent idea at the best of times, but when we can see the difference one person can make in the 100th year of his life – raise millions and millions of pounds, receive a knighthood, meet the Queen, and become famous around the world.
Instead of a downhill slide into depleting physical and mental fitness, and the window of opportunity for new adventures slipping away out of view, she is now looking at the future with an optimism she has never felt before – and I hope this is the case for millions of others who, like her, have seen a man of great age achieve such great things in the last 12 months of his life.
“He has certainly inspired me at 70 to think that even now, anything is achievable – and whatever life throws at me, Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day.”
– My Mum