Decline but not ready to Fall…

Attaining an age where there is more of my life behind me than in front of me sometimes prompts me to ruminate on what lies ahead.

I don’t feel that this is a morbid activity-more of a philosophical wander through aspects of life, although not its meaning. Speculation over the meaning of life is pointless, since there is no necessity for a meaning. You only have to watch Professor Brian Cox’s brilliant series on the planets to realise that the fact of our existence is happenchance.

But I do an occasional mental stocktake of how my life is. Occasionally this will be dominated by physical difficulties and health problems. There is an inevitable deterioration in the functions of bits of me, such as the joints or the digestive system-and these bits demand to be treated with more care than in earlier years.

More complex is the changing of mindset. I begin to understand some of the oddities and anomalies that became commonplace when communicating with my parents. I notice that I have become more fearful about some activities, less concerned about others. I must, for instance discipline myself to be a relaxed passenger in a car, otherwise I am aware I could become un-transportable! On the other hand I take a perfectly unconcerned view of ceasing to exist-providing this does not happen too soon!

I have become ultra-observant, some would say nosy; I understand the stereotypical, curtain-twitching old lady persona. I note and appreciate feelings like ‘comfort’, which has risen to near the top of my cravings, my must-have for a happy life. A good night’s sleep is not to be taken for granted; a pain-free long walk or a cycle ride is a blessing.

I become absorbed by current affairs and make [admittedly] feeble attempts to throw myself behind causes. I like to spend long hours in our garden, pottering, tinkering, looking and tending. I am patient with my small grandchildren.

I’ve become fond of art. I love the discussions my Book Club has, which take all kinds of directions and are lively and absorbing. I love my dance exercise class for we old ladies [and gents-if they came along]-optimistically called ‘easy aero’].

I dislike some aspects of modern technology, such as the effects of social media on social gatherings. But I remember my parents railing against [in no particular order]: automatic washing machines [‘they don’t get things clean’], video recorders [‘why would we want one of those?’], telephone answer machines [‘we are too old to manage those things’]. Later on, in his nineties, my father learned to use a PC and write and send emails.

So no, I do not fear the reaper, but I do fear memory loss, loss of independence, incapacity, loneliness.

Oh-and by the way, Facebook-I really am not interested in ads for pre-paid funerals. When the time comes they can do what they like with me-as long as they have a cracking good party while they laugh about my eccentricities…

 

 

 

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On being Granny

Aside

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A little over a year ago I wrote a post entitled ‘It’s not that we’re not Interested, but…’ There it is still-March 3rd, 2013, a slight rant about the way people eulogise over their children and worse, their grandchildren. I hope I made it clear enough that this is not a grudge or a phobia regarding children themselves. Indeed, I have been fortunate to have two children of whom I am in awe regarding their achievements. They have made it to respectable adulthood and [almost] gainful employment. I am duly proud and delighted to know them.

In addition to all this, I made my living from attempting to stuff skills and knowledge into the little sponge-like brains of numerous children from the seventies to the noughties, so I am not in any kind of position to harbour a hatred of the young. I somehow gained a reputation for cynicism during those years-more a reaction to new initiatives than to the bright and bushy tailed little ones in my care.

I have also now become a fully paid up member of the grandparent club. As a granny I am as doting, besotted, amazed and devoted to my granddaughter as any grandparent anywhere. She is, of course the most beautiful, talented, cute, lovely and intelligent being that ever appeared on the Earth, just as all the other grandchildren are. But the wonderful event that was her birth was actually six months ago and I have refrained, until now from pontificating on the joys of her existence. Why? Because, reader, I don’t wish to become a hypocrite on the matter of grandparentage, having made my opinions on the matter clear in March 2013. I simply don’t want to morph into a drooling baby-bore, starting every conversation in a desperate bid to lead it onto the subject of my progeny. They can speak for themselves [or will in the case of GD].

What I do feel, however is some concern in respect of the world she is to grow up into and the fact that all the problems it has faced in the past remain with the addition of extra difficulties such as climate change. She will need to be intelligent, sociable, knowledgeable and educated to deal with the challenges of the future and luckily is getting ahead already. She is lucky. She is born to educated, loving parents and getting the best start anyone could wish for.

I hope I can be the kind of granny she will remember with fondness. I am excited to think of all the activities we will be able to do together as she grows. I wish for her to grow up with a respect for the environment, a love of nature and tolerance and friendship towards fellow humans of any nationality, religion and philosophy.

That’s all I’m going to write about the personal side of being a grandparent. Her achievements will not be mine. Got to be true to my principles!

It’s not that we’re not interested, but…

                

                The majority of people who are parents acknowledge that having children does, on the whole enhance their lives, despite the high cost in terms of finance, energy, time and so on. Most of those with older or adult children are proud of at least one of their offspring and those with babies and toddlers will be full of stories about how many teeth they’ve acquired, whether they sleep through the night or that they can name all the capital cities in Europe. This is all natural and in the order of things.

                Occasionally, though, there is, amongst one’s friends or acquaintances someone who is unable to converse on any subject at all without reference to their offspring.

                “Have you booked a holiday yet?” you ask them.

                “No, but our Susan [or Mabel or Esmeralda] is going to Ulan Bator. She’s been invited to join a missionary choir blah blah blah…….”

Or,

                “Car still going ok?”

                “Yes but we’re passing it on to Julian [or Wayne, or Freddy] because he’s just heard he’s got into Oxford [Slade/RADA/Cambridge etc] blah blah blah blah]”

                Worse still are the doting grandparents. Myself, I am not yet a grandparent. Yes, I am looking forward to becoming one, but may I be struck down if I turn into the type of drooling, fixated granny or granddad who is unable to utter a word about anything except the exceptional, talented, unearthly beings that are their grandchildren. We meet them on our travels, these people who are unable to complete one sentence without mentioning their grandsprogs.

                In my previous life as a proper working person I used to meet up occasionally with fellow colleagues for training etc. In the course of these monthly meetings there was one poor soul who greeted me regularly with the words,

                “Oh hello! Are you the lady who’s got a little grandson, like me?” to which I felt compelled to reply,

                “No, I’m afraid I’m the lady who has no grandchildren.”

                I wish I’d been more courageous. I wish I’d said I ate them for breakfast.

And another thing; those who are grandparents regard us grandchild-less couples with pity, as if we are in some way defective and disadvantaged. ‘Never mind’, they say, ‘It’ll happen’-as if we are somehow pining for this longed for event. Another of my friends feels she must shield me from photos or information about her grandchild, in case I should be offended by the sight or mention of him. This is not the case at all. I am at least as interested as she is in my stories, or indeed this blog!

For this is the point. I don’t mind at all, hearing a bit about others’ families, and of course I am as proud as any parent of my own children’s achievements. But I don’t wish to be defined, myself by their accomplishments; because they are theirs. What I would really like is to be defined by my own achievements…and most of all…in my writing. Is it too much to hope for?