I reached the ripe old age of 85 in 2019 — and it’s painful. I ache, virtually every morning, in parts I never knew I had. I’ve also lost bits of myself I thought I would still have … various surgeons have seen to them over the years!
Of the parts I do still possess, my knees and hips can no longer quite support my weight without hurting, so that I’ve had to take up a walking stick, if I’m going any further than to the end of our garden. I never thought, just a few years ago, that I would ever need one of those!
I’m getting noticeably round shouldered too, the legacy of a lifetime sweating over a drawing board with a brush or pencil in my hand. Worst of all, my memory isn’t as good as it used to be — I can actually feel ideas walking out of my head, ideas I was just in the middle of formulating, but which no longer seem to want anything to do with me. One moment they’re there, the next they’re gone, often forever! The only good feeling I get from that came from a learned document I read a little time ago, which said, ‘if you know your memory’s not as good as it was, this means you are not suffering from Alzheimer’s — people who do suffer from that evil disease have no idea that they can’t remember something’!
And look at my clothes, stuff I’ve been very proud to wear because I’ve always thought I should look my best when I go out into the world. By that I don’t mean I want to wear a suit or tie, it’s simply a case of looking as if you care about yourself, whether in the most outrageous casual wear (yes I do have some!), or a business suit. The clothes need to be clean and they should fit well. I hate garments that are stained with goodness knows what, or trousers bunched and worn at the bottoms because they are too long.
The trouble is, because of my fastidious habits, I’m need to get my wife, Jacqui, to help more often clean up the messes on my jackets and shirts, because no matter how hard I try not to, I dribble sometimes (show me an 85-year-old who doesn’t). I’ve actually bought some adult bibs, and they help quite a lot!
But clothes I used to feel so slick in, now fit me like a deflated balloon — no longer smart at all.
A pretty lousy picture, isn’t it!
As time goes by, I have found that it’s not all doom and gloom — honestly! For one thing, for years I’ve been trying to convince people I’m younger than I actually am, but by the time I got into my 80s I became quite proud of the fact that I’d made it this far, and I’m still kicking ass. At least I like to think I am … Unlike a lot of my contemporaries who have the grass over their heads instead of under their feet.
People are beginning to show me a little respect now, too. They’ll even ask for advice on matters of importance and hold doors open for me.
Not only all that, but one of the great pleasures I now get is the fact I don’t have to go to work every day anymore. I can do what I want, whenever I want to do it, as long as I can afford it! If I can’t sleep at night, I can get up, turn on my computer, and talk to friends on the other side of the world, where it’s daytime. I can also play one or two of the thousands of games that are available online; or I can write.
There’s another major benefit, not to be sneezed at too. In many shops, etc., prices are reduced. There are even books published that tell me all the businesses that will give me discounts, or offer some other advantage like free gifts alongside purchases. Car registration is considerably cheaper, rail and bus fares are either reduced or, in some cases free, most doctors surgeries bulk bill for pensioners, even if they don’t offer the facility to younger patients.
For those who feel the need, there are nursing homes, eager to look after them, for just the cost of their pension! And of course I have the added advantage of my lovely wife to help me through the remaining years we have together.
At my age I don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks of me. I say what I think and do what I like, so long as it’s legal and I’m capable of it. I wouldn’t dream of going mountaineering nowadays of course! As far as I’m concerned, if people don’t like it, they can lump it. Luckily I have most of my marbles (apart from that memory thing), so I don’t often say anything downright stupid, but as I say, even if I do who cares!