It is 71 years today since I married my first dearly loved husband, Malcolm. I was 19 and he was 26 and we had 39 years of happiness together with our shared interests in art, music, walking, travelling abroad to slightly way-out places (Samarkand, Bukhara, Khabarovsk Trans Siberian) and, of course, bringing up our only child - our son, Dominic. Malcolm died in 1991 of kidney cancer.
I sat this morning thinking about him and thinking about getting old. Not morbid thoughts - just normal thoughts one has - mulling it all over in my mind. Thinking how very lucky I was to have found another partner in my dear farmer who was known to Malcolm and with whom I had another happy marriage for almost twenty four years Totally different interests and I think that is what made it so successful second time around..
My thinking led on to old age. I can't say I felt old when my farmer passed away (which will be six years ago next week) and I have come to the conclusion that old age creeps up on one in such a way that you really don't notice it until one day - wham! - it pulls you up short when you suddenly struggle to do some silly little thing and think 'last time I did that it was easy!'
As some poet said - .you are born to die (or something like that). It's not as though we don't know it is coming - we know we are not immortal. But as somebody else said - old age is not for cissies.
I suppose for some people it arrives with a flash and a bang - a sudden stroke, a bad accident or something like that. But I guess for the most part folk are like me. It creeps up - an arthritic knee here, a deaf aid there, then a rather suspect short term memory, which in my case often means going to the front door two or three times during the evening to make sure I did lock it and put the chain on when the carer left.
What is important is how to deal with it. In my case this is where my blog comes in. I would find it hard to fill my time usefully without posting almost every day. It means firstly I have to think of something to say - here reading The Times is a help as it often gives me an idea. Times 2 has different columnists writing articles (how on earth do they think of two or three short pieces on some days - all well-written and topical?)
Yes, I get great pleasure from waiting for my flowers to come out (especially the early ones as I have often forgotten exactly where to expect things like a clump of purple crocus) but that only supplies a sentence unless I look up the origin of the name, when they were first introduced into the country and by whom. And the same goes for writing about garden birds (who, now that mating time has arrived are around as usual - and also the neighbourhood bird-catching champion cat who is again on patrol.)
No, my method of trying hard to stay young:
Make sure your friends are always welcome whenever they call. Friends are so important - they provide good conversation (there is only so long when you can talk to yourself). I love all my friends, they are always welcome and I hope they all know how much I value their visits.
Always have a good book on the go. Here I can thank Blogger so often - Rachel recommended Olivia Manning's Balkan and Levant Trilogies and they have been a really good read. Derek sent me 'Mother's Boy' - a novel roughly based on the life of the poet Charles Causley. He had acquired it and read it and as he knew he wouldn't read it again has kindly sent it to me. I finished it this morning - most interesting and well-written. So thank you blog-friends Rachel and Derek.
Keep active - I can only walk with aids but I make sure I walk up and down the bungalow every hour (at present it is too cold and possibly icy to walk outside).
If you are lucky enough to have children, grandchildren or great grandchildren (I have four of the latter) - take pleasure in their achievements even if you only hear of them from e mails, photographs, phonecalls. If they don't live locally then you can't expect to be top of their list for visits - these days everyone is just too busy.
And when your time is up my philosophy is to give in gracefully not to fight. I don't subscribe to Dylan Thomas's "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" - no, for me when my time is up it's up and I just hope it turns out like that!
Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow!
And I hope we keep reading your lovely blog posts for many, many more days.
Your description of old age "creeping up on you" is my own experience too. One difficulty leads to leads to another. A gradual erosion. My youngest said to me, "Does it scare you, getting old?" (I don't consider myself old, not quite yet.) It doesn't. It has crept up on me to be sure, but what has also crept up on me is a certain graceful acceptance that death does come for us all. It has always been thus.
An Oscar recipient made the statement that her mother had become an ancestor the previous week. I found that simple statement profoundly moving.
I'm only 71 but I really can't understand how it happened! Lol
I was just 20 the other day...
I was 77 years old yesterday and combined with my arthritis I am unable to move as freely as I would like. I can't say I like this but as time goes by I am accomodating it and actually not resenting it too much. Funny that as I have always been feisty and would have though I would have railed against old age but find myself allowing it to 'creep up on me' as you said.
Going out is getting less and less attractive but staying in a reading or crafting is more and more appealing.
Love your posts and look forward to reading them each day.
We all find our own way to deal with old age I think Pat. You have written a marvellous blog for years and many people have responded to it. We are very grateful for your presence in blog land. What you have had is a long and happy life, rejoice!
You have good advice to share, Pat. I have been feeling old lately and hope I can age as gracefully as you.
I like you am a two times widow, 82 years old, only one friend left. I almost never see my two girls as they live in other cities. One grandson is about 20 miles from me and he helps me with changing lightbulbs and other minor problems. I am alone in the house with my wonderful dog. I can no longer walk her but have a large fenced yard so she gets lots of exercise chasing squirrels. I love your blog everyday as it gives me something interesting to ponder. My grandson just got me into watching Youtube on my tv. I have been watching videos from all the countries have wandered.. I am sure you would love it too.
I am only 66 and have been quite fit and healthy, up until this past year. Now, after a couple of health issues, I suddenly feel that I am getting old. However, I recently mused that, should I get a negative medical prognosis before my time, I don't think I would really mind that much. I have enjoyed a pretty good life so far, bar the odd ups and downs, and there is not much left that I really need to do. When it's my time I think I feel that I shall be able to accept it.
Of course, I would love to follow your example and be as good at 90 as you are!
Good morning (here anyway, it's probably already afternoon there!) I love reading your blog. Today was especially lovely, summarizing your 2 marriages and some of your travels. A nice attitude to have about leaving this earthly coil. (that sound's like either being a spring to uncoil, or perhaps a yarn to unspool.) Thanks so much for putting yourself out here into space of blogland...and being available for us to get to know you, just a little bit.
Old age certainly creeps up and sometimes it is all of a sudden without a major event even. However we are all different and we have to accept what and when it comes. I regret that I cannot see examples of others making any difference to me and what my body tells me, I can carry on in the only way that I know that is personal to me. I am glad to pass on the name of a good writer to you when I find one as I know you like to read and we often, not always, share similar reading tastes.
Wise words, Pat!
In the last month, it seems the arthritis that is part of lupus has arrived in both of my knees despite the fact I'm not quite 72. Bother!
BTW, it was Mae West who said "Old age isn't for sissies." That's how we spell that word across the pond.
I hope you know that your blogging is not just of benefit to your wellbeing.
I read it for my wellbeing too; you are showing us how to grow old with a plan.
The other day you told us how you got up at 6am so you could get your own breakfast before the carer arrived. It reminds me of my mother's realistic attitude to growing old - "As long as I can drink my own filter coffee out of my own cup sitting in my own armchair I'm not bothered about where I end up"
I concur. Old age just creeps up and hits you one day when people start looking at you and treating you as such. And I think to myself, when did that happen?
Keep active - that is the best advice, and it sums up all the others. Because activity is not just physical, it is also our minds that need something to do, be it a good book, conversation with a visitor or putting your thoughts in writing, as you do with your blog.
In a week's time, I will be 55 years old. I enjoy reasonably good health and hope to do so for many years go come. My first marriage ended in divorce, the second with my husband's very sudden death just 5 days after he turned 41, with no illness or warning of any kind. Will I get married a third time? I'd love to - but even if not, it's been seven years now that I have been with O.K., and although we live 150 km apart, we are very close and he is the only man I have met after my husband's death I can imagine moving in with (or he with me).
Like in your case, O.K. is totally different from my late husband, and we share different interests. Maybe that is why another loving, happy and close relationship is possible more than once in one's life, because we do not compare in the way that there would be some sort of "competition".
(Not sure I am making sense here.)
Wow Pat, what a powerful description of the effects of getting to old age and how indeed it creeps up on you. I'm approaching 76 and so many of the things that you describe are beginning to happen, frustration is the first response and then I guess, acceptance will be next as the years slide by.
And yes, no raging against the dying of the light from me, when the armchair is the limit of one's activities, then it's time to say goodbye.
In answer to Librarian, you make perfect sense, my partner and I live 80 miles apart, we normally spend time together once every couple of weeks and it has worked perfectly for the last ten years.
Your philosophy for living life and aging is marvelous. It most certainly has and continues to serve you very well. Keep writing, I enjoy your insights.
A wonderful and wise post. Thank you, and for your daily posts as well.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts - especially today. I'm 83 and, of course, have a few difficulties physically, as well as taking care of my husband who fell several years ago down the cellar stairs. Ever since his "concussion" he is more dependent on me. Genetically, I and my mother, my father, cousin, and grandfather have battled cancer. Sadly, one of the next generation (at the age of 62) died this week due to breast cancer. This latest has made me very sad, and at the same time brought home to me how fortunate that I have survived three types of cancer. How can I possibly feel anything but grateful to still be here enjoying my quiet life in the country with my husband still with me, and our two aging pets? I look forward every day to my favorite bloggers sharing their lives. We all have ups and downs but it's so wonderful to read and be buoyed up when I need it. And, needless to say, it also feels good to send something in support when one of my bloggers needs a boost. Hugs from the base of the mini-mountain in Maine.
Beautifully written. Thank you.
Wonderful wisdom and grand common sense ...as I enter another decade I attempt to stay as positive as possible without becoming irritating to those around me!!.. much love G.
You are so right about age creeping up on one. I shall be 87 tomorrow - now how did that happen?!!
We just have to do as much as we can with care, and take each day as it comes. Some days I can get quite a lot done, others very little apart from word puzzles and knitting. At the moment I, and my fellow residents of these flats, are waiting to hear when the lift will be back in action after it's overhaul. I have managed the stairs so have had my walk each day, but those on the floor above have been pretty well 'confined to barracks.' We all have our fingers crossed for March 24th. You'll probably hear the cheers!
Another lovely post. You were indeed blessed with two happy marriages and so many wonderful memories. You continue to brighten so many lives with your posts. Keeping as active as you can, both mentally and physically, seems to help with a positive attitude. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and experiences.
My father would have been 88 last monday. Unfortunately he never even saw his 58th birthday and never had a chance to know what old age is like.
Thank you Weaver for your memories and your insight, your blog does you good, and it does us good too.
I am sure we will be reading your blog for a long time to come - I look forward to my daily read and you have such a lovely outlook on life (and death) and everything inbetween. I liken getting old and failing health to walking down a flight of stairs that we will never walk back up again. From time to time we take a step down and maybe there will be a bit of a plateau in our health for a while like pausing on a little landing on the staircase where we remain until something happens, our health becomes worse and we take another step down.
Happy memories of your late husband.
Your words are spot on. Although I should add, at 71 I feel stronger and healthier than when I retired at 60. 20 years at mostly desk work were not good for me. I really enjoy reading your thoughts on aging, and the ways you keep your mind and body active. You teach us all how to age with grace, common sense, humor, and determination.
Thanks to you all - remember it is the fact that YOU ALL read me that keeps me blogging and wracking my brains for a subject to write about (not sure about how to spell wracking - does it have a w on the front or not? I am too tired/lazy to get the dictionary.) Night night all.
I remember the first time I realised I was getting older: it suddenly struck me that I no longer climbed stairs two at a time like I used to.
Another day when your blog is SO interesting. Also the comments are such a pleasure to read as well. We love reading about your life and the memories that you share with us.
Your blog is such an inspiration. I'm 57, and have considered myself fortunate to be here since 2003 when I had a cancer surgery/treatments.
Last night I was wondering, has old age arrived when all your health care providers are younger than you?!
Sorry, forgot to sign, Anne in Wyoming
Early ageing - the realization that you can't run for the bus anymore and just have to let it go. These later years I find I am more content to operate my life from a small radius, local shops and businesses, rather than going on further afield ventures I used to enjoy. I see others fight age but for myself feel there is a more gentle relaxation in acceptance.
I look forward to each new post from you, and comments here are always interesting and fun to read. - Pam.
You provide such calming thoughts about aging that it encourages me to not waste time stressing about the passing years. I really look forward to your interesting postings. The everyday bits are some of my favorites. When I see a new post I feel that everything is going to alright with the day. It may not be true but I feel that way.
Hopefully you will x
Great discussion on aging. You've reviewed your life and see how you got to be elderly. You are satisfied with being elderly and your coming end. That's the way it should be as we leave this town! See you tomorrow!
I am 80 in a couple of weeks. I've lived longer than either parent, than either of my two brothers. My sister is 11 years younger than I. She better exceed my age, or else! I probably will be angry with her.
I became aware that I must be old when several things happened. I joined a knitting/crocheting group. When I entered for the first meeting, one of the leaders jumped up and went to get a chair for me! What? I'm used to, and capable of, getting my own chair! Within a short time, one day I was at a grocery store. A father in line behind me directed his young son to help me put my items on the counter; then, another day, in the store parking lot, another customer came over and volunteered to help me unload my cart into my car. These things happened about 8 years ago, Since then, there have been many repeats of similar incidences.
I have to admit that, nowadays, since I'm nearly 80, the offers of help are much appreciated.
The other side of the coin is that on several occasions I have had to stand my ground when an assumption was made that, since I am so old, I must not know anything. A young girl in that knitting group saw me texting on my iphone. She said, "How quaint! I saw another older lady the other day who was learning to do that!". It did not take me long to set her straight. I informed her that I have had a computer since they were first put on the market. The first one I bought didn't even have a hard drive!! My email address is 30 years old! A few weeks ago, a man thought I was too dense for him to explain how to work my sprinkler system. He asked if maybe I had a son or daughter he could explain it to. I told him that in our case, my daughter still comes to me for help with her iphone and ipad. She would think it funny if she were asked to teach me something about technology.
I only had one marriage, It lasted 58 years. I lost him last April. Many memories. My "Old Man" as he called himself was my "Prince Charming". I could do no wrong as far as he was concerned.
I so agree with the people here who say that knowing you enriches all of our lives. Thank you so much for the effort you put into your blog, and for the positive, uplifting attitude you ALWAYS present. Your posts make the day better. Every time.
This is such a lovely post and so full of helpful and positive thoughts! Age certainly does have a way of sneaking up on you. It feels like just yesterday I was young with small children and now even my grandchildren are grown.
It works 2 ways, Pat. I enjoy blog a lot.
John (Stargoose) Your comment made me laugh out loud! I can't remember the last time I climbed stairs two at a time - can't even remember the last time I climbed stairs!!
And I agree with you Pam - all the comments are just as interesting to read as I hope my post is.
Lovely day here in Wensleydale.
Needless to say Pat, this was a marvelous post. Thank you so much.
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