Time flies by

This year I have been prescribed my first set of reading glasses. I can read quite well without them, however at the end of the day I have to say the world did have very fuzzy edges. So, off I went, and was told that many people required glasses by middle age. How very cheerful. My eldest sister is 60 tomorrow. I have to say that the realisation of this made me pull up with a real jolt. I never thought it when she turned 50: even though I am somewhat younger, that didn’t sound anything like 60 sounds – sort of aged. So there, you have another 10 years of being young.

I am glad that you are doing new things.

new ventures

 

I have to say that as one gets older ones group of friends seems to dwindle, or you see them less often, or something. I too have felt the need to do something different and meet new people.

 

I must admit I also worry a little about how quickly the years seem to be going, the birthdays coming around much more quickly than they used to and the realisation that middle age is not so far off! However I always think of X who bought and started a sheep farm at the age of 50. She is in her mid-70s now, with the farm quite successful… How one avoids or copes with the bodily ills rather than those of the mind I don’t know.

…a year since we set off from Southampton. It is amazing that time can go so quickly. I keep thinking of what we were doing a year ago – getting up and having rolls on deck, having dinner with that dreadful man (remember the sardine appetiser?), charging up and down B deck.

I surprised everyone, and not least of all myself, by having a stroke in middle of June. At least I was sensible and was able to rest and recover lounging in the garden – I felt like the last of the Colonial Empire – laying back under the trees for hours on end. Don’t be shocked at being 50. I was 70 this year – whatever next!

X’s surviving brother, 89, came over from Spain in the summer and while here did two stints on television – one in ‘The Bill’ and one for a new series of ‘As Time Goes By’ with Judi Dench – great for his morale but stressful.

I thought I felt old when the children of friends started getting married, but it’s even worse when people my age announce that they’ve retired or are thinking of retiring. Where have the last fifty-two years gone to? X’s father died just two days after his eighty-seventh birthday. Although he’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years, and his death was, in fact, a happy release from his torment, X and I were suddenly acutely aware of having moved up a generation, as it were. It’s not that we feel any older (or wiser!), just nearer to the other end of our lives.

 

Thank you letters

From young:

[Gift of a kite may explain – or not] Thank you for the kite. I flew it after we went roller-blading today… Sorry the letter is late. There wasn’t enough wind.

Thankyou for the blundiebus mirror, and the milky peewees (I bet you think I’ve lost my marbles!) No, seriously, they’re choice and so is the marble book and that impossible jigsaw puzzle.

fliers

thanks for the fun fliers. Live is going well apart from cofs and senezos. School has bene going well a part from sume upsets in th second turm.

 

 

Thank you for the money. School is beter than I thort. In Fact it is MUCH better than you thort. I am olso having drum lersons. it is cool. I Will pobebly get a c.d. ore a vido with my present. PS Thank you. by X

& somewhat older:

Thank you very much for the money you sent for my birthday. I didn’t actually buy a drink with it, I bought a hacksaw which I was in dire need of so thank you very much.

No way can I tell you how greatly I enjoyed the wonderful afternoon you gave me. Best of all seeing your splendid little house and charming garden and now being able to visualise what goes on in your busy life!

Thank you for giving me such a lovely day at X again. I’ve never not had a splendid time with you but this time was best of all.

Entertaining

As usual at 7.15 with us arriving and getting organised we started worrying that no one would come – but then half an hour later we worried if we had enough food/drinks.

It’s the village party tonight… As the noise is so terrific it doesn’t matter much who is there – conversation is all but impossible.

tiddly speaker

The old boy patron of the society (who opened the Exhibition) had obviously been wined and dined too well by X – was so embarrassing – really quite tiddly.

 

 

If you want to come you can have the camp bed here but I know that only a night or two is possible without me suddenly going mad. Such a creature of habit am I too.

… and then we had afternoon tea at the Vicarage for a select few – ugh – but it wasn’t too ghastly and I just survived. ‘Being social’ is just NOT my strong point – but then you know that.

She made a super rich cake and put it where the dog can’t reach it. X moved it to a place that was a gift to the dog who ate about 1/8 of it but wait – after nearly giving up with rage – she made another and filled it with layers of cream and put cherries soaked in brandy on top and put a throw-over over and SHUT doors … sudden scream from X – the dog got in and had pulled cover off bring the cake to edge of table – spoiling top cream only…

She would be very happy for X to come and stay there – she is quite firm that he would be more comfortable and better fed there and I rather agree! She has ‘turning out of her room’ down to a fine art… she is worried about putting Y out of his routine of sitting in the armchair in the kitchen and watching TV… He finds it hard to admit that he is older. Oh dear, what a mouldy old lot I make us out, but we really are rather dull and set in our ways and I do feel two or three days would tell X all he needs to know about our insular views. Old memories are all very well but when the names are all missing the conversation tends to be ‘Oh, of course you know who I mean – dear old so-and-so with the wife’ and the audience has to guess until we get the right person or all give up in disgust!

[After a memorial service] X had got a bun fight ready at the house which was for the family, relations, friends and village people who remembered him. So it was all a bit mixed as the village method of having a tea is to take their cup and plate and pile the latter with all the grub it will hold and then retreat to the available chairs and bad luck to those who come later – which inevitably would be the relations and friends!

Uppers and downers

“She has been busy organising her exhibition. Busy doing a million things in fact! She’s been enjoying the burst of energy these drugs have brought, I think, and has been quite funny about it all. He seems to be standing the pace too!”

“X got asthma but we got some medicine and he’s heaps better now. Just hope we don’t get a hyper reaction to it – sometimes he loses whatever sense of responsibility a 3 year old can be said to have!”

“… won’t be independent for shopping etc. if I have to give up the car – I can’t really quite decide if I ought to stop because of eyes but in the meantime go on! So glad to hear that your eyes were ‘better’ with the different man – it is a completely hit and miss game as far as I understand it and one just to trust them.”

the paediatrician

“…there was time to get X gooed at by the paediatrician at the hospital (‘Isn’t he lovely?… Yes, quite well… Bring him back any time -$31 please!’)”

“I cured myself eventually by announcing to the consultant that his precious blood pressure pills were killing me and I was getting lower and lower in spirits – so had tried without them on my own and found myself feeling better. So we abandoned them and I revived at once and am now full of beans – still short of puff but that is now put down to smoking all my life, until a year ago, instead of ‘heart’ which it was first thought to be… The greatest joy is to feel alive instead of permanently half dead and blacking out at the thought of doing anything… thank goodness this nice consultant is amenable to being told that I don’t want too many of his pills – still having 3 different things to take each day despite knocking the worst one off: what would Maggie [Thatcher] think? I am sure they all cost the earth, and being ancient I get them for free.”

Going, going, gone

“I hope your parents are as well as age allows – it is hard to see loved ones fall apart.”

“I can appreciate how you miss your parents, I have had two husbands, but my mother meant more to me, and it is so natural to wish we had done better for them.”

Dead & buried

“… I miss X a great deal – in a very strange way. And this year I have found more letters which she had written to me. I do not know why I kept them because I am not a ‘keeper’ at all. But of course I know that you must miss her in a very different way and that it cannot be easy for you. It all seemed to happen so suddenly. I think that she found it difficult to cope without X as she had always been dependent on him. And of course all the time she was seriously unwell – a matter she never mentioned and which I sort of forgot about I am ashamed to say.”

“We are going to have to try to talk to my father about selling his house, which won’t be a very pleasant task. He is permanently hospitalised…”

“Yes, I understand how you feel having lost both parents. I also have regrets of not appreciating them fully and of things left unsaid and undone which should have been expressed and put into practice. But that is life.” [And death!]

Partner is getting old and a bit senile, but in a beautiful setting!”

“We’re kept pretty busy, partner endlessly repairing the house and me trying to keep the garden under control. We love the house, and so here we stay, despite the family thinking we should move to something more convenient. In fact they’ve given up, and we have more help, particularly in the garden.

Advancing years bring change

“I have been entertained by X. Her questions have kept my brain ticking over: seven or eight questions on the trot, I am about losing the plot and forced to answer the original one and then managed to change the subject… But, the process starts all over again with the next lot!”

“They came at 3 p.m. and left at 7 so think that was a success – v. pleasant couple. He has something terrifying wrong, with internal bleeding of the brain at intervals when he’s rushed to hospital.”

“…the garden is tiny too and even if far nearer to neighbours than I like I shall have the consolation of being able to shout for help if in despair, and would be heard.”

“I tried to give my brain a brush down and went to Oxford for a residential week. I did a course in Literary Criticism and lived in Somerville College. Quite wore me out…”

“Oh I do wish I had your ability to like living alone.”

“…most of whom I hadn’t seen since we left X [14 years ago]. Many of them were sprightly early-retired in those days; and it was rather strange to see them again after this gap, all looking distinctly elderly. (I of course haven’t changed a bit!)”

group of older people
distinctly elderly

“How is the homespun jersey going? Shall hope to see it on you one day if I ever brave the stairs again – I got so comparatively-able-to-breathe-deeply during the summer, but I think I ought to live in the South of France or somewhere as I am panting again now and appear to be developing asthma or something sinister every time I try to ride up a slight incline on a bike. The answer is to walk of course and I can pant more gently then!!”

“We heard from X… I got a nasty shock to hear he’s 80 – it’s almost into-the-chasm-sounding, rather than over-the-mountain.”

Nothing is certain but…

“… about a year ago I wrote saying (more or less), ‘nice to have known you, goodbye’. He wrote back, having recovered from his latest bout of rigor mortis, saying he was bird watching and going off to Italy!”

“It was such a sudden and tragic loss that I suffered when partner passed away.”

“She was happy at his ‘easy’ end, and I can attest to that as husband was in and out of Hospital Emergency for 17 years before he died – and it was awful to watch it all – and of course more awful for him.”

[re bout of rhinitis] “…and those pills were the ones I didn’t bring. I reluctantly bought some quick relievers – which did work praise be. Horror story of X’s about a visitor who did the same and they didn’t go with some other medicine he took and he died within hours made me a little apprehensive!!”

“I was to and fro all the time and mother died last month just before I arrived back in X. It has all been too depressing for words. I know it was all for the best but it still knocks you for six.”

“Unfortunately X’s grandfather was hit by a car recently and he died a few days later. He was 80 years old so would not have been around much longer anyway but it was not a nice way to go.”

[re X’s garden after her death] “X had lovely iris stylosa – they are gorgeous but I haven’t been out to croon over them for about a fortnight. They made me burst into tears anyhow so perhaps it is as well to leave them uncrooned over.”