On being 80

When I came into the world in 1935 it was, so I’ve been told, quite an accomplishment to live until you were 80. The good old biblical ‘three score years and ten’ was very much the rule in those days, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some people actually took the definition seriously and ended things when they reached that age, in much the same way as the habit of having all your teeth extracted when you reached 50, whether they needed removing or not!

As for reaching a century – I’d guess there would only have been a small handful of them in 1935. In fact you only had to go back another 50 years or so to find the age of ‘passing on’ was nearer to 40, so even by 1935 things were showing a distinct improvement.

But look at the vast changes that have taken place since 1935 – a time when 80 was considered to be pretty ancient. Now, in 2015 it’s really not considered to be much beyond middle-age and many people 10 years younger than that still put in a full day’s work, play active sports, go out dancing and clubbing in the evenings and often come home with the milkman in the morning. (That’s a colloquial phrase – I am well aware that milkmen no longer deliver to our front doors!).

At 70 years of age I was involved in all sorts of activities within the local community, as were many other people of similar age. We were in Lions or Rotary, various committees around the town, members of the various sporting clubs, frequent visitors to the two pubs and customers of the coffee bars and restaurants, all of us aged 70-plus. In fact, Yarram, like many other small country towns, has a preponderance of people aged 70 and above – most of the younger generation tends to leave the country towns, looking for adventure and wealth in places like Melbourne or Sydney.

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OK, now that I’m 80 I have started to slow down quite a bit. I have a slightly dicky heart which requires me to take warfarin every day and a statin to cut down the cholesterol, but apart from that I feel as fit as a fiddle within myself. Admittedly I doubt that I could run to catch a bus now, and mowing the fairly large area of lawn surrounding home presents something of a problem, but really, inside, I feel much as I did when was 40! Thank goodness my brain still functions too, so that I can enjoy the pleasure of writing articles such as this, and I am still painting landscapes, etc., which provide a small boost to our finances. But the important point I am trying to make is that I am by no means unique, dozens of friends of ours are of much the same age as us and are just as active, maybe in different ways, but still active!

Today, even reaching your 100th birthday isn’t as impressive as it used to be, there are literally hundreds of centenarians dotted about all over Australia now, most of them in possession of their full faculties, if not their physical capabilities. We have one lady, living in the town, who is a hundred and one years old and still walks about one and a half kilometres to the shops and back nearly every day, and she goes to the horse racing at Stony Creek several times a year as well. She is full of vigour, bright as a button and greets virtually everyone she meets by their first name, never forgetting one of them!

I hope Jacqui and I can make it through the next twenty years and be in as good a state as her when we get there, it would be a great pleasure for us both, to be able to grow old – disgracefully!

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