The third person I met on my last trip lives in the Czech Republic and was my seat mate on the flight home. Our conversation started with me guessing the language of her magazines. She was on her way to stay with her son and family for 6 months.
As I'm terrible with determining someone's age, I will take a stab that she is at least in her 80's. Walking was an issue as was getting acquainted with the myriad of control buttons on our seats. She needed help with fastening seat belts as well as getting up and down.
She didn't realize I couldn't hear regular speaking volume when I had my noise cancelling headset on. Normally I am able to watch almost 4 movies on the flight home and since I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to business class, I was quite reclined and couldn't see her much. I think she must have thought I had trouble hearing.
So every 20 - 30 min or so I would see a hand come across my field of view. I didn't mind helping her up or hanging on to her coffee while she got her cane etc etc. It wasn't until 5 hr into the flight when she asked if I was listening to classical music, that she found out I was trying to watch movies and felt horrible for having interrupted me.
I gave up on the movies, sat up a bit and began to chat. She lives near the Slovakian border and had just been to Prague a few days prior. I told her Prague is on my list of places to see one day and that got her so animated. "You must go there!" she exclaimed!
She studied literature in university and her command of the English language is impressive. She recalls losing near 20 lbs in the first year of school due to her "dorm mother" not feeding what was supposed to be the proper allotment of food to the girls in her charge. The country was poor and those were really difficult times. She remembered being always cold.
Her husband passed away 20 yr ago and was a medical doctor. When she found out I work in health care, she couldn't understand why the heck I was working part time and how come I could take so much time off. Her husband was still working full time right to the end. After all I was still so young...
I never did explain things to her satisfaction I think. She probably thought I won a lottery or inherited a large sum of money because the concept of part time work or early retirement did not register as something desirable. If she only knew about all the blogs out there dedicated to such a cause...
She thanked me for helping her and we wished each other well. I cleared out quickly so the cabin crew would be able to help her with deplaning. My rushing was the reason I missed taking my pair of beloved ski socks home.