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!