Many of the elderly feel isolated and alone. In a world where many of us have busy schedules, it can be difficult to take time to visit a nursing home or even our own elderly loved ones.
It seems harder and harder to remember the little things in life. Just taking time to chat with a friend or doing something nice for a stranger is sometimes too much to ask. But Hannah Thornton was on a mission to change that.
Thornton is a charity worker who volunteers for a group called Age Better, in Sheffield, UK. Their goal is to help seniors feel less isolated and to encourage social interaction.
It was a difficult job, but one day while riding on the train, Thornton received a surprise that touched her deeply. Little would she realize that two strangers would validate all of the work that she was doing.
She was traveling by train to Liverpool, on the way to visit her grandmother. As she sat down, she noticed two older men sitting a few seats away. She watched and listened.
It was clear that the gentlemen were strangers and Thornton expected that they might exchange a few pleasantries and then become absorbed in their own thoughts, as so many of us do. She was shocked to see what happened next.
The two men immediately struck up a conversation. As she listened, she noticed that they seemed like old friends instead of strangers. Thornton said that the men, “instantly hit it off… like they’d been best friends for years.”
The older men continued to chat, talking about their day and sharing other experiences. Neither were enticed to open a newspaper or to check their phones for messages instead.
Seeing these strangers interact and showing kindness to one another struck a real chord with Thornton. She wanted to let them know how much it meant to her, especially knowing how lonely the elderly could be.
She decided to write them a note, not wanting to interrupt their conversation. As she left the train, she handed it to the men. Thornton never expected what would grow from that scribbled-down message.
In the note, Thornton wrote that she worked for a charity that helps combat loneliness in the elderly.
She let the men know how touched she was upon hearing their conversation and how happy she was to see that people in the community were still being neighborly.
This time last week I got the train to my Grandma’s and shared part of my journey with 2 lovely men. They’d never met before but instantly hit it off and laughed like they’d been best friends for years.
I scribbled a note to them as I got off the train…and I got a reply!!?? pic.twitter.com/eWA7hiNEim
— Hannah Thornton (@hannah_shef) February 9, 2018
She was completely surprised when she received a reply from one of the men. In his letter, Bill, 63, said that he also worked for charity and that it had been a pleasure talking to his 80-year old companion on the train that day.
Bill wrote, “Thank you for the note you gave me as you left the train yesterday. You made 2 old men very happy – although I don’t consider myself as old. 63 is the new 40!!!!” He also added that he would like to volunteer for the Age Better group some day.
Thornton took photos of both letters and posted them on social media. She wanted to share the story with others to encourage them to follow in Bill’s footsteps. Amazingly, the post received over 40,000 shares.
The story of two men acting neighborly has touched many people. There have been messages of others now wanting to check out the charity. It has brought a renewed recognition to the issues facing our elderly.
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