Old man, look at my life
December 30, 2012 8:21 AM   Subscribe

George White is 92 year old, and his wife died this year. This Christmas was the first he was to spend without her since the end of WW2. So he traveled to Switzerland to be with his kids, and he started blogging about it. (Via)
posted by growabrain (37 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
This is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. Thank you for sharing, I'm going to enjoy following his trip.
posted by Partario at 8:36 AM on December 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

There is absolutely nothing to dislike about this. In other words, it's awesome. Sail on, George.
posted by davebush at 8:36 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Up bright and early for my big day. I’ve not flown since 1941, in those days you were strapped in a 4-seater bomber, so I am getting excited about experiencing modern day flying.

Unfortunately for George, EasyJet is the modern day equivalent of being strapped into a bomber.
posted by three blind mice at 8:42 AM on December 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

I had this thought pop into my head of "He's 92 and he's never had a passport!" then I remembered that immediately before opening Metafilter just now, I had put my pen down in frustration partway through filling in the damn passport form, after my mother was shouting at my grandad over the phone trying to get him to give her his passport number to renew her passport, before realising the fill-in-able PDF form was missing instructions and she didn't need it after all. It's enough to make it to 92 and never have a passport.
posted by hoyland at 8:43 AM on December 30, 2012

Oh, good find. Thank you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:44 AM on December 30, 2012

This is just all great. Thank you. Passing along to dad. Happy wishes.
posted by parki at 9:02 AM on December 30, 2012

It's been interesting watching this link make the rounds of Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. It's like people are craving a story with sincerity and sweetness, free of snark and cynicism.
posted by Nelson at 9:04 AM on December 30, 2012 [8 favorites]

This is the perfect combination of many great things and has provoked a deep, sad, hopeful, sentimental feeling in me that I don't find very often.

The picture of him standing by the seawall in front of the giant fork, with his words of savoring moments of beauty...so wonderful.

I think he might be my new role model for life.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:06 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, neat. La fourchette has a fun story to tell itself.
posted by dhartung at 9:15 AM on December 30, 2012


I miss my Nanaji.
posted by infini at 9:19 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Le Forke...
posted by growabrain at 9:21 AM on December 30, 2012

I like the way he writes.
posted by limeonaire at 9:48 AM on December 30, 2012

I like the way he lives, too. He's lovely.
posted by but no cigar at 10:02 AM on December 30, 2012

Hooray for a sweet story!
posted by Glinn at 10:29 AM on December 30, 2012

Oh how lovely. I am in awe of his courage . My fond hope is that when you and those you love are 92 you find the same courage. I love this man.
posted by bluesky43 at 10:45 AM on December 30, 2012

I love this man.

This. His writings stirred the same mix of adoration and respect that I had for my grandparents, who I loved beyond all measure. I hope all his travels are safe and full of wonder, and that there's always a cup of lovely tea at the end of the day.
posted by vers at 10:50 AM on December 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

The way he is experiencing the thrill of discovery through the lens of his loss, and how eloquent he is at expressing that without falling into maudlin...

This was great. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 10:53 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wait a minute... if he was traveling alone, who took all those photos of him?
posted by infini at 10:59 AM on December 30, 2012

He's visiting the area where my wife grew up (she's from just above Vevey). It's really an amazing place, and his description of the view is perfect:

It amazes me where the Swiss are able to build their houses, perched way up the slopes, the occupants must have a view out of this world. It reminds me of a football stadium, this lovely Town and lake in the centre as the pitch with the mountains as stands and terraces thrown up to sky all around.
posted by letitrain at 11:05 AM on December 30, 2012

I don't think he was traveling alone -- he says in the first entry that his grandson is taking him to Switzerland.

This is extremely enjoyable reading.
posted by JanetLand at 11:05 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

This gentleman lost his wife the same day my great grandmother lost her husband - and he began the blog the day we buried my great grandmother. I'm sure they would have gotten along, though - it seems like they all shared the same sort of zeal and excitement and inability to sit around being sad about things - instead, keep moving and discovering.

My great grandparents were world travelers, but they met in the humblest of ways. My great grandfather worked at a press clippings bureau, and my great grandmother was the clerk at the deli he bought sandwiches at. They ran into each other roller skating, vaguely recognized each other from somewhere, and hit it off. My favorite picture from before my great grandpa went off to Europe for WWII was at Coney Island, Florence in a ruffled and polka dotted two piece with her hair perfectly curled and a big coquettish smile for the camera, and Irving looking admiringly at her rear end, unaware someone was taking their picture. My grandfather was born while Irving was working as a POW guard in a camp in Italy - he traded a pack of cigarettes to a German POW to draw a picture of him in uniform superimposed over a drawing of Florence holding their 3-month-old son. When he got back from WWII, they lived in the Quonset hut settlements set up around New York City for returning GIs, and he went back to work at the press-clippings bureau until they earned enough to move to a fancy apartment in Brooklyn. He worked his way up to owning the bureau, and they traveled literally around the world. From Flatbush, they made it to Jerusalem, Madrid, Sydney, Montevideo...

They celebrated their 69th anniversary this August surrounded by their successful kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. My great grandfather turned 90 in March, finally agreed that his toupee looked a little fake, and took to wearing newsboy capes. My great grandmother turned 90 in October and celebrated by flirting with my little brother's college roommate (admittedly, looking pretty sharp in his Army dress uniform). My great grandfather died of congestive heart failure this past Thanksgiving day. My great grandmother, ever resourceful but now on her own (still at their fancy apartment in Brooklyn), spent a lot of time with family, looking after the 95-year-old upstairs ("She's just such an old lady, I worry about her!"), and commenting on every single post anyone in the family made on Facebook. Unfortunately, she fell and hit her head on Dec. 23 and passed away the next day, and now she's buried between her mother and her husband at a very Jewish cemetery in Queens. I miss them.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:15 AM on December 30, 2012 [21 favorites]

I can only hope to still be as clear and a good speller when I'm 92. Bless him.
posted by New England Cultist at 11:21 AM on December 30, 2012

PS: There's an airline that serves bacon butties for breakfast??!
posted by New England Cultist at 11:22 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

What an inspiration! Thanks for posting.
posted by Fig at 11:30 AM on December 30, 2012

He has a wonderful writing style and such a zest for life. Happy travels George!
posted by arcticseal at 11:41 AM on December 30, 2012

Thank you.
posted by Anitanola at 1:03 PM on December 30, 2012

Aw, lovely.
posted by painquale at 1:03 PM on December 30, 2012

Wow. Beautiful. Imagine all the stories he has to tell. I hope he keeps writing.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:27 PM on December 30, 2012

His wife was lucky to have been married to him and loved so dearly.
posted by discopolo at 4:54 PM on December 30, 2012

I’ve not flown since 1941, in those days you were strapped in a 4-seater bomber

I love how casually badass the old vets are. Classic. This is great, thank you.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:06 PM on December 30, 2012

I love what this guy is doing. My paternal grandfather lived to be 94 and he'd have been able to make this trip at 92, no problem. I feel lucky to have his genetics but maybe not so lucky (we'll see) to have his wifes genetics -- Alzheimers for herself and for all of their children, too. She took off in her mid to late 60s, my grandfather spent long years alone but was not lonely that I know of, had his church and his children and grandchildren and lots of flowers in the backyard of his sweet little house there in Chicago, where he lived for at least fifty years. None of us had moved out of the state yet, much less the country, we all pretty much came to him for birthday celebrations, family picnics, etc and etc.

Though he could have gone back to Denmark and visited -- he still had family there, he came here on the boat at 18 years old, one of my sisters sought out and found the records from Ellis Island, we got him to write out his memories, some of them, got him to tell us some of the story, he laughed at himself falling asleep as he drove the wagon home from town, the horse walked him right up to the barn. Guy Clark sings it exactly right in his song Immigrant Eyes off the record Old Friends, which he wrote about his grandfather but also mine. Great song, great record, Clark is a great writer.

Like this man, my mother was born in 1920, turned 92 in October. Unlike this man, she cannot travel, can scarce travel around her room in that assisted living place, she's pretty much locked inside her body, she's losing interest in life; I know for a fact that she'd love to blow on out of here. Not a one of us, and least of all my mother, not a one of us would have thought that my father would die first, always he was hale and strong and festive, but Alz doesn't give a shit about any of that, it tore through him, left her alone, which she was absolutely not prepared for, and never really did adjust, and still hasn't. I'd do about anything to get her to get into a computer but it's just not going to happen, she just cannot get her head around it at all, and she really did try, too, maybe fifteen years ago. I'd like to think that if she had a window on the world through a puter that it could hook her attn, brighten her, get her into the flow of this joint again.

It'd be great for her to see those mountains, those amazing views; I guess it'd be great for anyone/everyone, look out from a huge height and see til forever. It's so easy to forget how beautiful this whole thing is, this man is getting big-time updates on that and then sharing it with us -- super-cool. If Alz doesn't nail me maybe I'll make it that long -- I sure hope to -- and maybe have the courage to travel as he is; I'd like to think I would.

Thx for posting this, a nice read.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:13 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is great. I'm so glad he decided to keep moving and keep on living life. My mom passed away in April. My dad is 80 w/ lots of heart issues and as soon as my mom passed, he decided to have life go to hell. He sits in his house alone and only talks with me and my son. Doesn't want to go anywhere, not even my house (I offered to pick him up), doesn't want to spend holidays with us, doesn't want to talk with his brother in law or his kids, and just says he wants to die. I understand physically his life is falling apart and is a challenge but he has given up on everything and has refused any help. Hospice widower therapy, additional cordless phones in the house, microwave, answering machine, etc. It's really frustrating to deal with. I wish he could find some happiness in doing something. He doesnt' have to go to Sweden or anywhere far, just get out of the @#$# house beyond ther ER visits.
posted by stormpooper at 7:01 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not seeing any entries on the blog, just the title and then a blank page. (The direct link to the Christmas entry goes to an error page.) Did we break the blog?
posted by sarcasticah at 7:55 AM on December 31, 2012

Now there's one goodbye entry. We did break it. :(
posted by JanetLand at 8:03 AM on December 31, 2012

I'm seriously sad that he's removed his previous posts, but fully support his choices for himself. Just found out about the removal when I went to his blog to send a friend the link -- his adventures would have really helped to cheer her.

I'll still be wishing him peace and safe travels, always.
posted by vers at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2012

Ouch, that was a short-lived blog: Lasted for about one week, but it was lovely while it lasted...
posted by growabrain at 10:40 AM on December 31, 2012

I'd read up to Dec 28th and was just now going to finish. Ah, it was nice while it lasted. He seemed too real and earnest to stand up to the scrutiny of the larger internet, however well intentioned that scrutiny might have been. Enjoy the rest of your trip, sir!
posted by intermod at 3:17 PM on December 31, 2012

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