Story nine –
As example of the most enduring of human spirits, few stories top that of the world’s oldest man, Bob Weighton, who turned 112 in March, and who claims the twin arts of living tranquilly and ‘avoiding dying’ as answer to his extreme longevity.
One of the few humans who can claim to have lived through the experience of a COVID-like pandemic before, Weighton was born a decade before Spanish Flu swept across the planet. An engineer by trade, he has lived a wonderfully full life, first as a teacher in pre-war Taiwan, then in Canada and the US, where he put his talents to use building planes for the war effort, and is believed to have worked with the American Secret Service. He returned to Britain after the war, and settled down to teach at City University, London. Today, he makes miniature wooden windmills to sell, the proceeds of which he donates to charity.
A lover of life, which he takes ‘as it comes’, and which is filled with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, our celebration of Weighton’s birthday is a celebration of what it means to be together. No old man, to paraphrase John Dunne, is an island, and certainly not this very old one, whose life continues – and must continue – to touch us all.
Words by Adam Scott and Dave Waddell
Illustration Jessica Watson
The historian Peter Hennessy recently observed that future historians will divide post-divide society into BC and AC – Before COVID and After COVID. It is in exactly this spirit that AfterCOVID seeks to celebrate how the world’s largest shared experience has given us the most extraordinary stories of what it means to live beautifully. Together, they are the clues to creating the future we all hope for.
FreeState is planning for a post-COVID future. Share your story with us – really, we’d love to talk. In the meantime, stay well.