Suddenly I am old. I am no longer the one where they say “you look good for your age” because my age and me are now united. Looking good for your age is not using a stick for support or wearing the comfortable stretchy trousers and nice flat walking shoes. Looking good should be something shaped to the body, which is no longer something to be shaped to because it no longer looks so good. It happens suddenly when you least expect it to happen.
I only saw my dad once a year as he lived in England and I lived in Switzerland. Every time I saw him he was a little more bent, was walking with a walker for support and he was no longer the dad that would play games with me, take me for walks. He was getting older. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 100 an I remember him once telling me a few years before that he never expected to grow so old and sometimes he did not really want to grow so old and wished it was all over. Of course, I reassured him that we were glad he was still amongst us, but how is it to live to such an age with all the problems it brings? I now know what he meant.
At the age of 71, I am getting there slowly but surely. All my life I have seen the golden oldies struggling along, a bit uncertain in their movements: even feeling sorry for them when seeing that their reactions are no longer what they were. Now it is me that no longer reacts, that struggles and does everything in slow motion. It does not happen suddenly, that is the problem. It happens slowly. Waking up in the morning with walking problems, aches in places you did not even know existed is not sudden, but one morning you realise that leaving the bed needs motions to set you in movement. Not stand up, but sway back and forth from the bed until you manage to stand on your feet. This is not temporary, but forever.
No-one told me this would be you in a few years. No-one warned me that this would be the last stages of life. I was a kid, a teenager, a young woman discovering the pleasures of life. A young married woman, a mother and now I am a grandmother. I am the last survivor of our direct family line, my dad’s only child. I worked all my life, looked forward to being retired and no longer having to do anything, but only what I wanted to do. Unfortunately you cannot always do what you want to do when you hair is grey, your bones are fragile and all sorts of surprise illnesses arrive that you would never have thought possible.
But I have a computer, so not all is lost. I am a cyber old lady and I have a digi camera. Make the most of what is still here, I will let you know how it is when I celebrate my 80th birthday, from this side or the other.
Me, mum and dad 1947