The first e-mail that I opened this morning was from Rachel McAlpine. Rachel, like me, is old and celebrates it.
We are both in our 80s and live in the same city but have never met. Rachel is a poet, author, and artist. Visit her and see how she celebrates her age.
I tell most younger people who comment on my age that if they are lucky, they’ll get to be my age one day. As we know, so many people don’t reach my vast age. My response is usually met with looks of amazement and they often then go on to ask whether I still drive.
I have enjoyed each of the phases of my life, some, of course, more than others. But now I can say I honestly enjoy this phase. Oh, there are some obstacles when we’re old. I can no longer walk the long distances I used to, but I can still walk, albeit with the aid of a stick. The alternative to a stick is not to walk, which would be totally unacceptable.
I can still drive to my favourite beach and while I no longer walk along the sand I can walk along the esplanade and enjoy the sights and sounds of people on the beach. Incidentally, I am a Pisces, so water is very important to me, and I am happiest close to it.
There are those occasional and mostly strange, twitches and aches and pains. Our bones are more fragile but with extra care, we can make sure (as much as we can) that they don’t break.
I know that I am one of the lucky ones. My health is good for which I am truly thankful. I can get out and about and do those things that interest me.
I do have several younger friends but of course, most of my friends are now my age, so we do things at a slower pace – but still do things.
So how are you enjoying your age? Each day passes so quickly and can never be replayed. Enjoy each day as best you can, and be thankful for it.
I have often written. about my father in earlier posts. As I have said, he was a great and inspirational father who gave his three daughters much love and the confidence to do anything they wanted – with the proviso always, that it hurt nobody else.
But what of my mother? Little has been written about her.
She was the typical Jewish mother who grew up in the East End of London in the early part of the 20th century. She was the only daughter in the family and from what we could discern from the little she shared with us, the two boys were favoured while she took on many household tasks to help her mother,
Mother was of the generation of women that saw their men going off to the Second World War; some of whom probably could remember their fathers going off to the First World War.
These women then, left behind to take over all the responsibilities of family life. How brave: how stoic were these women!
And particularly in London and other major cities where Hitler and his cronies and his superior (at least in number) force, bombed the city day after day, night after night, in an attempt to bring Britain to its knees. I am pleased to confirm he/they were unsuccessful.
During this time, many women took jobs but not Mother. She concentrated on her three daughters, their health, safety and wellbeing. We learned that she was generally known as ‘the woman with the three girls’
Life was hard for these women. Everything was rationed and there was very little of anything. If Mother found somebody who would swap her sugar ration for butter she was onto it. And of course, many women hadn’t had to make decisions, this being well in the region of men’s tasks. So they were thrown into the deep end, making decisions on money, schooling and all manner of household things that always before, having been left to fathers, husbands or brothers. I know that apart from spending her weekly household allowance, she had never made any other decisions.
Mother was always busy. Even if she were sitting reading in the evening, she would be knitting.
She had. cast-iron rule. Housework was to be done in the morning. What wasn’t done by 1 o’clock wouldn’t be done that day. Then she would change and get ready to pick up her two eldest daughters from school and take her three girls to the park, always with a picnic packed. This habit continued well after the war and the only change was when her daughters became old enough to make their own way to and from school.
The war ended and the men returned. I have a clear memory, I would be six or seven, coming home with Mother after Saturday shopping to see this man sitting in our living room. He was a virtual stranger to us. But after a brief hug between them, life settled back into a routine. But how hard it must have been for those women to hand the reins back to their husbands.
Sadly, the deadly Alzheimer’s claimed this strong, vibrant woman and her last few years of life were spent in a care home, visited daily by her loving husband and the one daughter who still lived in London.
I wrote about visiting her a few years ago, but for a particular challenge –
“A moment of clarity in the land of the confused brought on a rush of memories both to her and to those of us visiting her. This once vibrant, strong woman had been reduced to a pale shadow of herself under the strong grip of Alzheimer’s. Disease. Suddenly she was once again our mother, even if only for a very short time, when she knew our names and recognised each of us. The joy and happiness was unbounded and in that short time many happy moments and happenings were remembered. But all too soon, the veil of the Disease dropped down and once again she retreated to the confused old lady she had recently become.”
So I am left with a firm understanding of how much she loved us and how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. With Father, she provided a safe and loving home and a memorable childhood. I do know how very lucky I was/we were to have had this woman to call Mother.
“But there are other words for privacy and independence.
They are isolation and loneliness”.
Megan Whalen Turner, American writer of
fantasy fiction for young adults.
OK, so we are now on Day 15 of our nationwide lockdown. And how are we surviving?
Oh, I miss coffee mornings with friends; I miss the camaraderie of the new friends I meet on the courses I run; lunch alone doesn’t have the same excitement or interest as lunch with friends; drinks on Facetime somehow don’t fill the need for interaction and on and on.
But these are not problems. I can overcome each of them and all the others. But what of folks whose lives are set in and defined by schedules. Those who can’t understand why their world has to change in such a way. “Why can’t I go to school?” “Why can’t Jason come to play?” “Why aren’t we going to church?” they cry.
There are many in our midst who suffer this way, either for themselves or through their children. One such is Luke’s Mum. Luke’s Mum lives with this 15-year old’s autism, bravely and well, I might say. She is worthy of our support so please go over to her blog to see how well she is doing in Bright Orange Balloons.
Found on Pinterest.A
And while I haven’t yet been bored; there’s plenty to keep this aged mind active, and involved, I have no intention of falling into the trap of complaining about self-isolation.
And this week, Lois from Write Along With Me, came to Wellington on a cruise ship. We had a very little time together but how nice just to sit, two ancient ladies, chatting about our lives, so different and in many ways, so alike. Here’s her latest post – https://loisroelofs.com/2020/03/13/sailing-on-the-high-seas/.
We discussed whether to meet beforehand and decided that because she hadn’t been anywhere there were concerns about Covid 19, we would meet. When were we ever going to be both in the same city again? The likelihood was pretty remote if not non-existent.
So on a beautiful Wellington Tuesday, I picked her up and though we had little time we had a drive around the bays that ring our beautiful city. She admired our pristine and deserted beaches and commented on the fact that the beach was so close to our capital city. While driving around we chatted like two old friends. The cafe I took her to was closed, so we went to my favourite place for lunch. But Lois had been eating a lot on the ship and so it was decided Coke and cake for her, tea and cake for me.
Then a Tiki Tour back to where the shuttle bus would pick her up to go back to the ship. And we were lucky. The next day our Prime Minister declared New Zealand closed to all cruise ships until at least June 30.
When Lois left here they were going to the South Island and then on to Australia. I have heard from her that they weren’t allowed to disembark in Tasmania, so waiting to hear where to next; she is having a real adventure.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny and as it was Mothers’ Day I was awakened by a visit from my son. A great start to a good day.
On Monday I wrote about a new life, the death of one friend and another friend who was spending time in the local hospice.
Wednesday was another mixed day. My grandson’s graduation and my friend’s Memorial service. A new life beginning and another one ending.
It’s at such times that I stop and think about all that is good in my life (I hope you do too). How lucky am I to have these four fine, upstanding young men whom I am pleased to call my Grandsons. And how lucky that I have a supportive son and daughter, and daughter-in-law.
Wendy’s life is now over, Drew’s new life is just beginning and I will continue to choose how I will spend the rest of my life – filled with gratitude, adventures, and love.
My grandsons are all so tall – I look like a midget beside Drew.
And of course, no post would be complete without Mary Oliver
“Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one wild and precious life?”
Well, where have all the months gone since my last post? I must tell you that each week I say that I will start blogging again and each week passes without a blogpost.
So today is the first day of the rest of my life.
Yesterday when I opened this post from Elizabeth at Laughing Cow in France, it took me back two years to when I had that awful misadventure.I hastened to assure Elizabeth that life does go on after a major accident, even if at a lesser pace. Elizabeth then continued the next day with part two. It is well worth reading and reminds us how quickly life can change and how lucky we are to live in countries where medical assistance is readily available.
And my tale tells how very good our bodies are at healing themselves even if sometimes they need a little medical help. I hope that Elizabeth’s journey is not too hard for her to bear.
Another post I read today is from Nancy at Not Quite Old. In light of the Kavanaugh/Ford proceedings currently playing out in the media around the world, this blog post is very timely.
Most, if not all women will have been the subject of sexual abuse at some time in their lives. Trump asks why Kavanaugh’s accusers did not report the abuse at the time? We as women know why. So thank you, Nancy, for this post. It brings home to us just how vulnerable women and girls are to “rougher and meaner” men and boys. And of course, boys and young men are also vulnerable to these predators and have been equally reticent to seek justice, for where is justice if the perpetrators are men in high office, the church or company hierarchy?
Our own New Zealand Christmas tree. Image via Wikipedia
What a difference a Day Year makes.
In December 2015 I was bemoaning the fact that my Late Love, the Architect had died and so 2015 was not a great year. But I was especially grateful for all the outpouring of love and friendship that followed this. I was looking forward to seeing the end of 2015 and a better 2016.
On this day last year, I was bemoaning the fact that I had a fractured shoulder having injured it on the same date as five years earlier I had fractured my ankle.
Earlier in the year, I had my misadventure, falling over my feet and fracturing my skull. A visit to hospital and rehab and after several months I was back home and learning to do things for myself once again.
So in all, 2016 was not a great year but I was also very grateful for the fact that my health is good and my body is strong and my mental attitude is in the right place, so that I survived the hiccups during the year. And once again I was moved by and grateful for the love and support from my friends both in real life and in the blogosphere
So on this day, I was looking forward to seeing the end of 2016 and a better 2017.
And 2017 has been a very good year. Totally recovered and back to normal, well normal for me. The family members are thriving, all boys growing into fine young men. So, as Sinatra sings :
“But now the days grow short
I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
And it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year .”
And here’s to 2018. May you all have a great year, free of mishaps, sickness, and worries. That will be my Resolution for 2018 when January 1 comes around.
And do you need a rainbow in your life? Here’s mine to share.
Those of you who know me, know that last year following my big adventure, I ended up at ABI – Acquired Brain Injury. Following a short stay in the Regional Hospital, I transferred to ABI. How lucky I was that there was a bed available to me. And I have written at length about the wonderful service, care and attention I received there.
And then as I thought about this, my Attitude of Gratitude really clicked in. So many things for which to be grateful and so I updated my page headed My Gratitude List.
Many of the things for which I am thankful, seem to be quite small until I consider those people who don’t have a caring family, group of friends, warm house, money in the bank or whatever. So I shall continue to say thanks for all of them.
And then a couple of days ago, one of my sisters of choice (I have 3), Chris at Bridges Burning wrote Today is Mine. I do agree that we can make of this new day what we will.
“When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully. When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light. When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it. When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway. When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.”
I’m looking forward to a few days in Fiji where the sun always shines (or so it seems) and then later in August, a trip down to the South Island of New Zealand to see more of the sights of this beautiful country on a Tranz Alpine Rail Trip. Take a look at the video.
So as I sit preparing for my Writing Course this evening, I am very happy with my life and hope that you are too.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Today, I changed the header to my blog. Not because my heart became ready for the Architect to leave but because this is a New Year and time for new adventures (hopefully happier ones than last year). I shall never forget the Architect. Along with my Dashing Young Scotsman, he’ll always be part of the rest of my life. but as Mary Oliver says “I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
So being a firm believer in the fact that no experience is ever wasted, I ask myself what did I learn from the major accident in 2016. I learned that
One quickly finds out who are your true friends
And the real meaning of friendship
It’s alright to ask for help
How to ask for help and accept it graciously and gratefully
People/friends and family are only too willing to do anything they can to help
I don’t always have to be in charge
Others often have a better way of achieving something
It’s a real bonus to have so much time to read
And then a short 7 weeks after I was proclaimed all healed by the fact that my driving licence was no longer suspended I managed to fracture my shoulder. I used those things i learned over the next 6 weeks while the shoulder healed.
So now going into this New Year, knowing just how fragile life really is, and armed with a desire to do and achieve more I’m going to be more aware
of what I do,
of how I can help others
of time spent with family and friends
“…there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
Mary Oliver September 1935 –
I had just finished the last of the Christmas preparations, presents bought, wrapping paper, ribbons and labels ready to use. So on the way home from the shops I decided to stop off at the dog park so that the Lovely Miss Lotte could have a walk.
I let her out the car and followed her only to slip on some loose gravel.
The result? A fractured ankle and a lovely red Santa boot to wear for the next 8 weeks
I was finishing lunch. I pushed the chair back from the table when, unfortunately, the chair leg tangled with the rug making the chair topple with me still sitting in it.
The result? A call for help. My large Grandson came down to lift me up while the other one put me in the car and took me to the hospital.
The outcome? 5 hours wait at A & E to be told there was no point in attempting surgery for a fractured shoulder. Bed rest for a few days and take it easy for the next couple of weeks. See you in 10 days.
Outcome No 2 Rugs rolled up and put away and days just lying in bed feeling stupid/embarrassed and knowing we didn’t need this at this time.
Moral – When told by the physiotherapist to remove rugs, remove them and don’t bring them out again. Live without them.
So now I’m thinking of not having a Chrismas tree this year. Hard to dress a tree with only the left hand operational and unless somebody does it for me, gifts may not be wrapped.
But I want to wish you all a very Happy Christmas, Hanukah or however you celebrate this time of the year. Take Care if you’re driving particularly if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.
Our own New Zealand Christmas tree. Image via Wikipedia
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. Norman Vincent Peale