Getting old is better than being dead

Brian shares his thoughts on turning 82 and this whole "getting older" business.

I reach the ripe old age of eighty-two in a couple of months’ time – and I’m not really looking forward to it! Getting old isn’t the easiest job in the world; parts of you don’t function properly anymore, especially your memory, and people, (even strangers sometimes), keep trying to make allowances for you, when you don’t actually feel you need the help! Also, I ache nowadays, in places I never knew I had, and I’ve lost a lot of places that I had hoped I would still have! My hips no longer seem to be able to quite support my weight without hurting, and I find that a walking stick is a useful tool after all, despite a lifetime of derision on my part.

My shoulders sag dreadfully now too, a legacy I guess, of a lifetime sweating over a drawing board in my studio. And worst of all, my memory isn’t as good as it used to be – I can actually feel ideas walking out of my head, which no longer seem to want anything to do with me. One moment they’re there, the next they’re gone, often forever! (You will, of course, dear reader, have noted that I’ve already mentioned above, the worries about loss of memory, so I was able to write this paragraph with a clear conscience until I re-read it during editing!)

I’ve always tried to maintain a good standard in the way I dress. I’ve always felt we all should look our best when we 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. But these days the image can be completely ruined by a dribble of coffee or a blob of raspberry jam down the front of my shirt, or a fly zip inadvertently left open. (Not that I have much to be proud of showing off down there, these days!). But at least I do still try, even though the styles I want no longer seem to come in my size or the colours that always suited me.

A pretty lousy picture isn’t it!

But for you youngsters who are still only in your sixties, it’s not all doom and gloom – honestly. For one thing, where for years you’ve been trying to convince people you’re younger than you actually are, by the time eighty-two arrives you start to become quite proud of the fact, – “See, I’m still kicking ass” –  unlike a lot of your contemporaries who are walking on the grass, instead of feeding it. People begin to show you a little respect too; they’ll even ask for advice on matters of importance though they often ignore your piece of wisdom.

Not only that, but work is in the past, and you can do what you want, whenever you want to do it. If I can’t sleep at night, I can get up and turn on my computer, Skype 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. Then I go back to bed to think until dawn and have a nice siesta after lunch to catch up.

There are other major benefits not to be sneezed at too. In a lot of shops, prices are reduced; there are even books published that list all the businesses that give us discounts. Car registration is considerably cheaper, rail and bus fares are either reduced or free, most doctors surgeries bulk-bill for pensioners. And for those who feel the need, there are nursing homes, eager to look after them, for just the cost of their pension!

Finally, at my age I don’t give a damn about anyone – I, like most others of my age, now expect a bit of respect for a change, something lacking all my life until now. I say what I think and do what I want, if people don’t like it, they can lump it. Luckily I still 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!

Do you agree with Brian on getting older?  Do you take on age differently?
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  1. Coral Christensen  

    Great article Brian. I will be celebrating my 75th birthday soon and couldn’t agree with you more. It’s certainly not all bad news getting older, main thing is relax and enjoy.

  2. Robin Henry  

    I turn 70 this year and don’t feel old, but like Brian, arthritis is beginning to kick in, my memory isn’t as good and I can no longer see the screw that holds my glasses together, so when it gets loose, I have to call on someone else to do it. My teeth are beginning to go downhill requiring a lot of work in the coming years. I don’t mind though. It’s all to be expected and is the way of nature.

    Many people I know never made my age, so I’m happy to be here. The average age of death for a male is 84. If I live that long I will be happy to return to the dark expanse knowing that I’ve had a good run. I don’t know that I’d want to continue much longer than mid-eighties.

  3. rob brow  

    I just turned 82 and I can understand how you feel. I also have to have a sleep apnia mask on every night and I am enduring 6 months of chemotherapy for leukemia and that aint fun. My wife is a near invalid. My closest mates have gone but I am enjoying my kids and 7 glorious grand children. One will even play for the North Queensland Cowboys!
    I suggest you jot your life story and reminiscences down on computer or note ook. You’ll find amazing things coming back to you. I wrote and published a book ab out my wife’s convict ancestors, “A Strumpet of London – And a Pig-pincher” (Amazon and Kindle). Took me ten years and caused me to travel the world researching locations. We also travelled for fun and have seen the most amazing sights. Wont fly now as the seats are too narrow and there is too much drama. Love cruises though.
    Love cryptic crosswords and though the memory is fading it keeps me mentally exercised and I do cheat a lot.
    Death has no fears for me – only a slow one – so enjoy what you an and contribute the wisdom you have learned over the years without beconing a b ore ab out it – like me. Cheers, mate.

    • Brian Lee  

      Thanks Rob, and yes, I’ve already written my autobiography, all 77,850 words of it _ I actually have a publisher looking at it right now, so fingers crossed that something will come out of it. I’m lucky in that I don’t require one of those sleep apnia things, though a cousin of mine does; I just lie there for an hour or two, thinking or listening to the ABC on the radio, then I catch up on any lost sleep with a bit of a siesta in the afternoon. Life can still be fun though, can’t it, I’m delighted to say!

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