random thoughts

Notes on being old

This is my experience, dear readers, for those of you who may be old like me, needing help yet mentally alert. It may or may not be useful to anyone else. As the song goes: “Let’s start at the very beginning...”

The night. I find the first hours of the night, even with pills, quite without sleep. What I don’t do is lie there and think. Action is required. I get up, go to another room (I’m upstairs) and read. I read a book I’m enjoying – nothing violent or upsetting. Towards four o’clock, or better still, five o’clock, I can’t read any longer so I get back into bed and usually sleep well until nine o’clock, visitors permitting.

When I wake up I decide to be cheerful. You know the saying: “Smile and the world smiles with you; cry and you cry alone.” No-one wants to be greeted by a grumpy old person. The paid help or one of my daughters helps me to have a shower or a wash and to get dressed. Depending on the weather, I am pushed in my wheelchair and have a ride down to the end of the drive and then I have a short walk on the arm of my helper.

Then we have breakfast and I feel refreshed and happy. This is easy for me because there are views of the hills and forests all around and trees and flowers in the garden. After breakfast, in or outside, weather permitting, it is time for a read. I’m sure to ask the helper how their night has been. They have lives, too. I keep a strict rule not to dwell on the past when I was independent and a driver. “What’s past is past,” I remind myself.

I’m helped in this by having two cats and a dog as permanent company. We share our lives. I try to live in the ’now’ moment. Each day is different and only the present moment is living. I suppose you could call it ’mindfulness’, although I’m not keen on naming things. And so the day goes on. When I’m walking on someone’s arm, arm tight by my side, we often meet people passing by. Some stop, smile and have a chat. Others, in their cars, drive by, eyes straight ahead. I become invisible because they are embarrassed and not friendly. I don’t let it get me down; I’m so grateful to be in my own home and enjoying life.

Do I think of death? Sometimes. Like many people, I don’t mind dying, it’s just the manner in which one dies. Relax. There’s nothing I can do about that.

My mother used to say when she was oldish “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone.” I have no such illusion. Yes, for a while, but each member of the family is living their own ups and downs. Hopefully, any remembrance of me may be pleasant. Well, I’m not dead yet, so, also hopefully, ’onwards and upwards’ with this blessed life! And I mean blessed.

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