Rose Said, the 187th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has led a remarkable life.
Now 92, Rose grew up in Port Said, Egypt, in a house just a stone’s throw from the Suez Canal.
Rose was 10 when World War II broke out. During those grim years, Royal Navy warships would pass through the canal by day and German bombers would attack the city by night.
When Rose was 20, her parents decided to move to Sydney, because they feared – correctly – that the political situation was going to deteriorate in Egypt.
Soon after, Rose got married and moved to a farm outside Sydney, where she lived a life utterly different to her childhood.
Back in Egypt, her father had worked in a five-star hotel, so the family hired maids to do the housework and got hotel staff to do their laundry. Now, Rose was living on a farm without electricity and running water, which meant she had to cook on a wood stove, do the washing by hand and perform countless other exhausting chores, day after day after day. She also had to raise seven children.
After 14 years, the family moved from the farm to Sydney. Rose’s husband found a city job, while she had two more children, volunteered at an op shop and started teaching scripture at school – something she’s still doing 37 years later.
Rose’s life story isn’t the only remarkable thing about her. She’s also got a remarkable ability to remember details from decades ago – from the date on which her school sports carnival was held to the spelling mistakes her first boss would make.
Thanks for a wonderful lunch, Rose.