What can I say about success. Telling everyone that today I feel successful in my chosen life in Switzerland. I did not know what awaited me when I found a job in Switzerland. I did not particularly pick Switzerland as the dream land of my future. I wanted to leave my Lonon life behind me and try something new. It could have been a catastrophe. I was leaving security for something I did not know.
Mum was not actually happy about it. She was still living in the same old house in the East end of London that she was born in. She still had the same neighbours, her sister lived opposite with her husband. The brother and other sister lived a train ride away. Everything was perfect. Dad had served his time in the British army in the last war, he had seen something of other countries in the world, although perhaps not by free choice. They were both happy to stay where they were. No revolutionary ideas about moving to Australia and beginning a new life – a possibility for many in england at the time. And then the only daughter began to search for work in other countries – but they did not say very much.
So one fine day I had packed my luggage, organised my documents and travelled to Switzerland. It was the first big adventure for me and I took it as it came. Today, 50 years later, I can speak a language more or less fluently that not many foreigners can. I am talking about Swiss german, not just german: a dialect that is officially not a written laguage, only a spoken one. As an extra on the side I can speak and understand proper German, as all German speaking Swiss. This is out of necessity as not all german speaking people understand Swiss German.
What else happened? Ok after 2 years I change my job in Switzerland, moved from Zürich to Solothurn, met Mr. Swiss and my fate was sealed. We will be celerating 48 years of married life this year. He already had two children from his first marriage when I married him and in the meanwhile I also have had two children. I also had a Swiss passport, and mum and dad realised that a journey into the unknown had now become a permanent thing. I saw them at least once a year. They would arrive in summer for their holidays and I would journey to London with the family now and again.
With the years we grow older, things happen that you do not plan at the beginning of a life’s journey. Mum passed away, dad found a girlfriend and we still maintained our contact, there was no problem. One day dad was on his own, he was now over 80 years of age and I was hundreds of miles away. Somehow I managed, split into two worlds, but life went on. Was I successful? My dad passed away last year, and I am now firmly based in Switzerland and have absolutely no thoughts of returning to England because it is not longer my country. The distance is now not only physcial but psychological. I am now a golden oldie, 70 years old, have my various complaints, and travelling long distances are no longer something I need. I attended my son’s wedding in Germany 2 years ago, and this is no problem. Trains run on railway lines and they do not fly from one airport to another.
Success: what is that. I have all I need: a home, a family, food on the table, good friends and neighbours.
Yesterday was a success for women all over the world, those that marched for their rights. At the age of 70 I have never experienced such a universal solidarity. Yes we can and we did. I am so proud.