OFELIA is nearly 97 and lives by herself on the top floor of a seven-storey block of flats in Gibraltar.
She has two daughters, one living in Spain who can’t get across the border and the other living in Gibraltar but is over 70 so can’t leave her house because of the lockdown.
She has two grandchildren, five great grandchildren and one great, great grandson but some live in the UK and Spain and with very young children to look after it’s difficult and not necessarily sensible to get to see her although they all telephone.
She does however have her memories which go back a very long way.
She remembers that her father used to sell Spanish lottery tickets in Gibraltar and kept his money in a bank across the border.
She remembers watching Spaniards try to stream their way into Gibraltar as the Spanish Civil War started and saw families cut off as the border gates closed whilst her father lost all his money.
She remembers being put onto a steam ship and sailing across the Atlantic Ocean en route to Jamaica after evacuation from the Rock because of the Second World War.
She remembers when the escort guarding the convoy broke off and the captain of the main ship wished them “Good Luck and God’s Speed.”
She remembers returning safely to her homeland, getting married, having children and watching them grow up.
She remembers driving into Spain with her young family and seeing the poverty where the simple act of giving an aspirin to a farmer with toothache got her a bag full of oranges.
She remembers the border closing and all of the unfairness to the Spaniards who worked on the Rock who lost their livelihood overnight once again.
She remembers the shortages and boredom that was cause by isolation and she remembers the arrival of many Moroccan workers who found a new life on the Rock.
She remembers every day except Sunday going out to the local kiosk to buy some bread and the Gibraltar Chronicle, but sometimes she forgets that she should not be going out at all because of the coronavirus and the lockdown and she does go out.
Happily however the Gibraltar government hasn’t forgotten about the elderly still living and trying to cope so now she has Health Visitors twice a day, morning and night to make sure that she is ok, that she has taken her pills and just to give her a bit of company for a chat.
Following this assistance, the authority also delivers a hot meal every day and some basic supplies so that hopefully she won’t be wandering out again until the all clear is issued.
Simple acts such as these make all the difference especially to the elderly such as Ofelia.