When consciousness returned, on awakening this morning, my mind, instantly, jumped to, this is my, Seventieth!!! birthday, on this planet. Thinking backwards to, Sixty, the last real ‘biggie’, I remember being absolutely stunned and surprised by the speed with which it had arrived, and now, De Ja Vu! a few ‘sleeps’ later, in the grand-kids’ speak and the grandiose age of Seventy has dawned.
Stepping out into a new decade, with my ‘three score and ten’ milestone behind me, once again faces me up with the stark reality of how finite our lives are.
Pondering, where all those years went so quickly, which funnily enough, does seem, just like the yesterday, cliche, Tina Turner’s words, ‘if I could turn back time’ sum up the overwhelming desire in my heart.
Many moons ago, in bygone days, when immersed in the hurly burly, bustle of living, really, really, old numbers, like Sixty, and, shock horror now, Seventy, were unimaginable. Growing older then, was hidden away in the mists of a far off incomprehensible future dream-time and rarely given a passing thought.
As a busy, young mum, of his, hers and ours it was a big chuckle whenever one of the children would quiz, me, a thirty something, about my food, clothes or transport in the ‘Olden Days’, their phrase for all time periods earlier than their own generation.
Often, this was last thing on a Sunday night when suddenly discovered school homework, conveniently forgotten during the weekend activities would belatedly make an appearance.
My, for real, ‘Olden Days’, the major milestones, those ‘firsts’, that stand out in all our lives, are what I remember the best, of course.
Sitting outside in the garden soaking up the golden warmth from above while mulling over my big seventy, and what now, my inner voice like one of, Oprah’s guests, dramatically declaring new beginnings after having come ‘back from the dead’ or somehow, ‘seeing the light’, tells me, its time to spend my remaining days doing what, I, really, really, like, and spending time enjoying those, I truly love.
A huge blessing in my life, is my ever faithful, four footed friend, Ruthie, whose companionship helps to keep the feelings of loneliness and isolation at bay in my empty nest.
Fetch being one of her favorite games, she breaks into my reveries whining for a ball toss. I give her well chewed, nearly fur-less, tennis ball, my best over-arm throw sending her racing to the back boundary fence. A few more times and she soon flops out in the shade, exhausted.
Soccer matches played in the hallway at bedtimes, using her pink, rubber, Barbie ball, is her, numero uno, most favorite entertainment, never allowed to be missed, no matter how late the hour. Her uncanny ability to sense where my kick will arrive at her end, and get it headbutted back to me, no matter how much I try to feign and trick her, always gets me laughing my head off.
As soon as the late afternoon sun, starts dropping down behind the trees, sending longer shadows creeping across the grass to chill myself and the wee dog, we head indoors. Once settled, with hot cuppa and feet up, whoever invented ‘Lazyboy recliners’ is a genius, I take a squizz through the meagre pages, mostly ads, of the local rag.
I remember how my mum and Nana, both now passed on, liked to check out the death notices in papers for familiar names to remark on. Not quite getting it at the time, I used to think them a bit ghoulish.
Now, I’ve figured its an age thing. Those words, ‘time and tide wait for no man’, come to mind as my eyes run up and down the same columns with a mixture of sadness, at the ones gone, and mounting uneasiness about the growing numbers in my age group. I am not ready for my number to come up in this lottery any-time soon!
Another new phenomena I’ve noticed about getting this far along life’s path, or maybe its just that I have more time to think lately, is the suddenly awakened, old memories that flood into my mind whenever my brains in neutral.
Triggered by a multitude of events, these, ‘Rip Van Winkle’ like, reminiscences, road markers of past faces and places, always surprise me with the vividness of their detail. Which I have to admit, when the car keys did their disappearing act again last night, for the umpteenth time, was definitely missing.
During a recent visit at the doctors, I nervously questioned him about the subject of memory problems, because on a recent trip to the front of the house one night, I was left standing, dithering, in the center of the room trying to remember what I was there for.
The Doctor’s theory went like this, ‘Alzheimer’s’ is all about how your long term and short term memory handles getting older, and its not a problem to forget where the car keys are, but you’re in trouble when you forget you lost them in the first place.
I still can’t figure all that out and am even more confused. ‘LOL’. That last bit came from a Grand-kid, teaching me to be a text savvy, Granny.
Driving across town to enjoy birthday cake and a few hours together with my daughters and their families, my mother’s heart wishes we could fit in more time together. Their busy, busy, lives, leave me longing for the closeness and intimacy of, the ‘olden days’ of their childhood, instead of the now few and far between, high tea days.
Watching the little grand kids’ faces, trying their best not to burst out and spill any secrets as I open their home-made cards, and gifts, filled with hearts and kisses, is always fun. However, each get together is also tinged with sadness at how their Grandfather, who passed away much too young, would have enjoyed seeing them all.
All too soon, its time to stick on my happy face, for pecks on the cheek and ‘love yous’. A final wave, and I head off home, tummy queasy from over-eating birthday cake and sugary things as well as the desperate yearning on the inside for more closeness.
As my ‘Seventy day’, closes, that line, ‘all the world’s a stage and we are just the players’, Shakespeare, ‘Elvis, or whoever, pops up in my head. A reminder that my last act on the stage of life has arrived and the final curtain-call is getting near.
Most of my bigger dreams, I had wanted to achieve, have already been, ‘timed out’, a Kiwibank phrase, learned during my initiation into internet banking. Their site, was obviously not designed for forgetful grannies, who have to type in strings of numbers from slips of paper, as their target audience because they ‘timed me out’ for, being too slow moving my money around.
A movie, I saw once, titled, ‘Nanook of the North’, showed the Eskimo’, families, custom, of dealing with aging, ‘Eskimo oldies’. When their teeth got worn down to the gums, leaving them unable to chew animal skins to soften them up, they were put out on the ice to wait to die, by cold or polar bear.
Recently on a visit to my mother’s, ‘rest-home’, where she kept asking, ‘how come this is called a rest home when it’s too noisy to sleep?’ it occurred to me hers was a similar, fate. I’m hoping the advent of modern day plastic teeth has changed what the Eskimo people do and wish someone would think up a better, less isolating way, for the ‘olds’ in my part of the world to cope with getting older.
Last thing before sleep takes me away, I make a birthday resolution. I decide, after years of procrastinating, its now or never time to fulfill a long held wish and write, Coral’s story.
In the morning, I intend to begin weaving, the ‘Olden Days’ memories, boiling over in the huge stewing pot of my mind, including any ‘Macbeth’ like apparitions, into a multi-colored cloth reflective of my life’s journey.
I will attempt to create, what proper writers call a memoir, I will use the teacher’s admonition, I always drummed into the school kids, ‘all stories must have a beginning, middle and end,’ for my outline.
So this is the first of many, God willing, swapping crafting for blogging, who said ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’?
Watch this space as ‘they’ say.