I met Alice when I was in my early thirties. She was older than my dad yet she gave me a completely different perspective on how to be an older person. Up until then, my future looked bleak but as soon as I saw Alice on the badminton court, I knew I could be different.
Alice was a life-long badminton player and what she lacked in speed and maybe some flexibility, she gained in strategy and placement. She taught me how to play soft drop shots that even the fastest opponents couldn’t return. Always first on the courts, she played to win and would often call the shuttle ‘out’ before it touched the ground, to which we would tease her. She showed no mercy and made the most of every moment on the court. I learned more than just badminton tactics from this old dear.
Her life story was shared to me through the years and although I have forgotten specific details, I learned about her younger years with her being raised by her father in Natal. I heard stories of her three children of whom she was immensely proud and a life with her husband who passed away some time before I met her. She would bring in photo albums of her grandkids and more recently her great grandkids and her chest would puff out proudly at her offspring.
Alice had an adventurous spirit and planning her holidays gave her immense joy. She would gently stick her toungue out when telling us of an upcoming overseas trip that she was ferociously saving up for. Australian summers, European boat trips and visits to the Uk were just some of the trips that would make her eyes sparkle. Badminton and travel were some of her joys and I enjoyed listening to her plans to make the most out of her holidays. I would marvel at her courage and perseverance and laughed with her when she chastised the other ‘oldies ‘ for being boring.
After some health issues it became clear that she could no longer play her beloved badminton without seriously risking more injuries. With a very heavy heart she stopped coming and I know it must have infuriated her immensely. I popped in to see her a couple of times and I think it may have upset her to be reminded of the game that she terribly missed. She proudly showed me her knitting and her projects and despairingly showed me the infuriating bruises and sores on her legs that were ‘taking too damn long to heal’.
Alice made a huge impression on my life and gave me a great example on not only how to play badminton but how to life my life to the fullest. We would joke that she and the Queen shared a birthday and in my mind she was a queen. A queen of life. After almost 90 years of living her best life, she will continue to remain in our hearts.
Rest in Peace, dear Alice