I reached the ripe old age of 83 this year – and it hurts. I ache nowadays, in places I never knew I had, and I seem to have lost the use of a lot of places that I thought I still had working! My knees no longer want to quite support my weight without pain, so that I’ve even been known to use a walking stick on the odd occasion that I‘ve walked more than a couple of hundred metres!
I’m distinctly round shouldered too, a 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! (Um – what is it that’s gone forever? And what was I writing about – let’s check back – ah yes!).
There are the clothes I still wear, clothes I’ve always liked wearing, because I felt everyone should look their best when they go out. I don’t mean wear a suit or tie, it’s simply a case of looking as if you care about yourself, whether in casual gear (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. Yet, now this is a state that is getting harder and harder to maintain. Worsening eyesight makes it more difficult to see how I look, lack of agility makes it harder for me to adjust my dress for smartness and lack of interest makes me more careless than I used to be about how I look – that’s getting old!
A pretty lousy picture isn’t it! It’s not all doom and gloom though… honestly. For one thing, where for years I’ve been trying to convince people I’m younger than I actually am, by the time 83 arrives I am becoming quite proud of the fact: “See, I made it this far, and I’m still kicking ass.” (Unlike a lot of my contemporaries who have the grass above their heads instead of below their feet.) People are beginning to show me a little respect too, and they’ll even ask for advice on matters of importance and hold doors open for me.
Not only that, but I don’t have to go to work everyday any more, and I can do what I want, whenever I want. If I can’t sleep at night, I can get up and turn on my computer, then I can talk to friends on the other side of the world; play one of the thousands of games that are available; or write silly articles like this one, which all goes to prove there’s still something alive in my head after all.
There are other major benefits, not to be sneezed at too! In a lot of places, prices are reduced (there are even books published that list all the companies that give us 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 who are still working. For those who feel the need, there are nursing homes, eager to look after them, for little more than the cost of their pension!
Finally, at my age I don’t give a damn about anyone. I say what I think and do what I want, 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, as far as I’m aware – but as I say, even if I do who cares!