Gemma, 28, is an Aussie living abroad in the UK who has always been really close to her nan Sheila. When she saw Edna, 91, sitting at a bus stop alone she started up a conversation with her. That conversation changed both of their lives…
I first met Edna at the bus stop after work where I live in the UK. She sat down next to me and I thought she was the cutest, so I said, ‘Hi!’, like I always do, especially to older ladies. I just love them. I asked her about her day, what she was up to and she said she was just going into town for something to do because she was bored at home and lonely without her husband.
We talked about her life a bit and where I was from. It broke my heart that she was lonely at home so I eventually asked her if I could have her number so we could go out for coffee some time.
An elderly couple in the UK called emergency because they were lonely, so police popped around and cooked them a meal. Article continues after this video.
Her face lit up and she gave me her number and said, ‘Make sure you call me, I want to see you again.’
I called her the next day and went and visited her for tea at her house. We chatted away and it was really nice. She showed me photos of her husband and wedding photos and then said, ‘I have a camera around here somewhere. I want a photo of you.’ So I said I could take a selfie on my phone and she said, ‘What’s that?’ So I helped her take her first selfie and because I told my mum and my friends about her, I put the photo up on Facebook for them to see.
It all just grew from there. She gives me advice about life and tells me to make sure I find a good man, like she did.
Edna is such a fun-spirited lady and I think that’s what makes me love her so much. She is really funny! My nan is my favourite person in the world and Edna reminds me of her. My nan’s name is Sheila and she is the person who inspires me to be the person that I am today. She is the most caring and generous person I know. Also my parents are always there for me. They are always willing to help people so I think that's also where I get it from.
When I met Edna and she told me she was lonely I thought about my nan being lonely and that’s something I could never let happen.
I think everyone should have a friend like Edna. You can learn so much from older friends. They still have a great sense of humour and are so much fun. They can share some of their wisdom with you and it helps with the serious issues of elderly loneliness, which is something that should never have to be an issue for any elderly person. It doesn’t take much for you to reach out, have a chat or go for a visit and make their day.
I plan to volunteer for an elderly companionship program when I get back to Perth. I was actually born in London so I have a UK passport that allows me to live and work over here. My family moved to Australia when I was 10 and I grew up there. I left Australia last June to travel and have been all over the world ever since.
I’m in the UK right now working [in hospitality] and saving money before heading off on my travels again. It’s also great to spend time with the family I still have here.
The next time I have a day off work Edna and I are going for lunch and then we’ll go out somewhere for the rest of the day.
Gemma says she can't wait to show Edna all the articles being written about their friendship. They'd also like to encourage other young people to befriend an elderly person by contacting Red Cross Elderly & Seniors Companionship Program or Legacy Visting Nursing Home Residents.
If you are an older person craving company contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.