Key Safe

I’ve been missing I’m afraid. I do apologise.

I took a tumble, a tumble down my stairs.

The ambulance crew immediately branded it as a fall. Now I imagine if they had attended the same situation but the patient had been fifty years my junior, it would have been described as the individual has fallen down the stairs.
At what point in time did an elderly person falling over gain this title of A Fall.

You hear it so often, ohh, Edna had a fall last week!
This has amused me for a length of time. I introduced the medical team to my sense of humour.

Young doctor: Bill, had a fall three nights ago.
Me: I jumped.
Medical students bewildered.
Young doctor: Very funny Bill. So due to his fall…
Me: My tumble.
Young doctor: Bill!

The kids rallied around me, constant stream of visitors to my hospital bed.

What a wonderful family you have!

Quoted daily from the other patients and nursing staff.

I do, I have a wonderful family! And there is no moment when it is more obvious than that.
Than that moment when you are vulnerable, incapable- infirm!

I must say, I struggled massively to begin with that I could not even bare my own weight upon my pins!
Alas, things will improve if I listen to the medical advice. Until then I am, to quote my son, a danger to myself!

I did not chastise him for his patronising note, I knew this bore worry more than malice, resentment perhaps.
But this brings me to my point, of course I have one, it’s possibly not my original but I have one.

So we, this is term the kids have started to use- as though everything to do with me is suddenly plural including them!

So we have had a key safe fitted. A little box, on the wall, with a code, with a key in side. So that I shall never have privacy again.

In my misery and temper I can feel her.

You’re safer this way Bill.

It does not make it easier!

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Sleep

One of the major issues of the elderly and surprisingly it’s not one of topics we enjoy to moan about. Don’t misunderstand, of course we moan about it. But not as much as we should.

Marjorie at the centre, see, she will tell the room that she’s not slept well because she’s been up in the night, blimey, backwards and forwards to that bloody commode.

True. But not always, it is not always just that. I lay here in my marital bed. I do not mean to appear so cold, I’m not.
It is so much more than that, not that I think you wish to here of the throws of passions that often heated it’s sheets. It is the bed we held our first child. It is the place we shared worries of redundancy. It is the place that she told me she wanted to run for local government. It is the place I told her I wanted to start my own business.
Everything is here. I delve into beautiful memories of our life. But you have to lift your head above water and breath reality. That is what often prays on me at night. I miss her, suddenly in that moment, I miss her more than words could possibly give worth. But I soothe myself knowing what it is she would say if she were with me.
Because I know, I know every word.

But to tell you the secret.

Thank God they invented 24 hour telly and the net by the time I got this old.

Memories and Aches

It’s hard being old. You’re tired all the time. You know when you are young and full of life. You probably are young and full of life! Well, when you wake up in the morning and you’ve slept a little funny, you feel achy and need to stretch out before you are at the top of your physical game for the day. The difference is when you’re old, there’s no stretching out- you need to plastered yourself against the radiator or spend an hour in the bath to quite literally warm your bones!

I try not to complain. Ok, I endeavour to myself everyday to not complain. But I always complain. Tell you what- you get old and try to not complain and see how far it gets you?

I need my complaining.

The phone rings.

Hi Dad, it’s Peter.

Hello Pete lad, how are doing son?

Not to bad Dad, got that promotion but not sure whether it’s the right time. How are you feeling?

Oh god lad, the left knee is killing me today. I tell you, I tell you what it sounds like. Remember, remember, the mark one your mother had, the battered up cream coloured one, well champagne she used to say. Well anyway lad, me left knee, by god lad it sounds like the engine on that mark one. The doctors coming out to look at me, MOT you know, ay lad we are like knackered up cars these days. I’ll make sure he checks me levels!

See, dear reader, here we have a beautiful- exceptional example of; elderly repetition, the tangent and the pensioners art of moaning!

I love a good moan, I don’t have much else to say- lets be honest. Day to day conversation, as a young man I would talk of my careers prospects, my possibilities with the local girls, thoughts of grandeur of what the future might hold. As an older man, hitting the middle ground of life- with my wife at my side, my children at my knees. I would talk of our hopes for the kids, our plans for the year, for the next ten even, we would share our worries of financial collapse, marital ruin!

But now,I don’t have worries or plans for the future. My worries and plans have played out already. I am at my final chapter. I think our final chapters if scribbled down in a figmented glorious human biography would be entitled Memories and Aches.

You may think I am a silly old man, I am! You are most certainly correct. But your final chapter will be filled with aches- to use the word pain here is far to strong and also would draw up far too many connotations of emotional suffering and despair. Memories both new and old- mainly old, you will live in these memories, bad and good. We already as human being cannot control our stream of consciousness to a certain extent. My granddaughter tells me that I am wrong, that if you are that ‘sort of person’ whom can control their thoughts, she breaks her flow here and states.

Grampa, you know the sort of person who studies maths and science, the sort of person who can view the world in black and white. 

Here I think she is so perfectly correct. The sort of person who doesn’t disappear into rose tinted memories of years gone by, the sort of person who can look into the future as the decline into illness and certain death, to miserably endure every moment until life is taken from our mortal dwelling thus leaving nothing but the carcass.

I replied to my granddaughter.

You are right my darling. I shall stick to my poetry and literature. I will continue to see the world in the gorgeous multi-hue I always have!

Mr Grumpy

Today I am at the day centre. Now, do you know what that is? Many of you won’t, you will one day if you manage to reach my ripe old age!

The day centre is in simple terms a nursery for the elderly. Luckily for me I have tested out a few in my area and by god, some of these places are a pit of despair. What you’ve seen painted across the media, old people in wheelchairs turned to the wall, dribbling, sitting in their own fluids for endless hours.

But my day centre, my nursery! It is fantastic. We have an absolute ball, by we I mean myself and my also elderly and infirm pals!

George! George! I launch a box of ‘soft play boules’ across the room. Obviously the light weight contents spills everywhere, bounding off the wall landing in Marjorie’s porridge, bouncing off the centre staff’s backs.

Marjorie now splattered with milky thick oats giggles uncontrollably announcing, Sarah love you better get me changed before this sets and while we’re there I better spend a penny! Sarah, a young girl working part-time whilst studying towards a degree, whom is always highly amused by us, the rebellious pensioners.

Life is not over because you are old, life is not over because you have married, you have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren even! Life is not over when your parents die or your lifelong friends. Death is prominent as you age. You’ve heard the old saying- as you get older you start attending funerals instead of weddings. Don’t get me wrong it is a most difficult task to out live those people you have shared- lived- your life with! Those people you have made your wondrous memories with, those people whom you once described as ‘there’s only three weeks between us’, they have been gone ten years.  Now do not misunderstand me, I’m not suicidal, I’m not awaiting death, sat twiddling my thumbs until the dark hooded creature comes for me as well. But you will one day know exactly what I mean.

For me it began when Joan died. Joan is not my wife. Just to clarify. Joan died eight years before my wife. Joan was Peter’s wife. Peter and Joan were, my granddaughter would say, our Thursday friends! They were obviously far more than this, they had become our Thursday friends. We would meet for early lunch in town and would then amble around some activity for the day and then each week we would take turns in hosting an evening meal. My Granddaughter Holly, our first, thought Peter was a funny old man and Joan was a scary witch lady! It is like I have said once before, I think, I might have… Anyway it interests me a great deal that as an elderly person you lose your identity, you are suddenly just an old person!

Peter was older than the rest of us, he managed to secure Joan at a blooming young nineteen when he was an old man at almost thirty. He often quoted in a high gruff, a young Joan ‘Ohh I don’t believe it you’re having me on, you can’t be that old!’ Oh the irony! We would chuckle. Joan and my wife had known each other their entire lives and we all played an important role in each others wedding days. We had often traveled to Canada to see them while Peter spent twelve years lecturing and researching chemistry and then spent five more years volunteering across Africa teaching and helping children in poverty to get sponsorship through education. What a wonderful couple! But you see Peter was but a funny old man and Joan a scary witch lady!

When Joan died, a huge blow to all of our worlds. Obviously Peter’s world was obliterated. But she was the first you see, the first of those people to go who I had lived my life with. The first of those people who I had shared milestones with, I remember her face before it was splintered with life. You see when this process starts there’s no stopping it. The decade that Joan began was one full of dark suits, flowers, cold buffets and memories spoken out loud as though we knew that these were it, the final page, the last curtain.

So what I mean for you to understand, one day, is that when everyone starts to die- you know that it’ll be your turn sooner rather than later. And when like me you’ve been to everyone else’s funerals, you ready to die when it comes. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want to die, I haven’t finished living, my life is not over, but it will be-sooner rather than later.

When it happens, I’m happy to go, I’ve no unfinished business.

Except perhaps, more than likely, I shall have to go to the loo! Speaking of which… Sarah is Marjorie off her throne yet?

That Old Man

I whistle a lot. I haven’t always done this. It’s just since I’ve been alone. The whistle echoes through my empty stairwell through to my single coffee mug on the kitchen table. The larder only offering my choices.

I am a happy man, life littered with very little regret, painted with love.
Even today my world shall be filled with love and joy, reasons to be here. Reasons to know that, even when I fumble up to my once marital bed, when I awake again I will know that I am not truly alone.
I think she made the kids promise. Not that they wouldn’t have visited even if she hadn’t have no doubt threatened them with hauntings if they were to leave their old dad to fester in his own grief.

But what she and the kids could never have imagined, could never even have fathomed. As respectfully, you cannot know what it is to spend your entire life with your best friend. To love her, to see her carry your children, cradle your grandchildren. Share memories of gone by years, know that honestly there is not one secret within your love. To have that absolute honest bond with a person and then one day they are there, the next, they are not.

No matter what has been and will be in my life- no one will ever mimic the love I have for my best friend. It is still here. I don’t let the kids see.
I mumble to her as I make my morning coffee, I reduce my spoon of sugar to a flat one. Sorry darling as I shake the excess grains. I split the colours as I load the washer.
Which tie darling, Martin is taking me to the new Italian as the attempt to choose preferable attire alludes me.
You see, I know what she would answer, you might think this is monotonous, knowing what they would respond. It is not that, it is knowing a person, and by knowing I mean in the most deepest of senses. Of being so in love, so vastly in tune with someone else that you feel almost one, that she lives inside me and I in her.

Oh darling I must get a move on, they’ll be here for me in… Where is my watch?

Without strength of word or even thought. I can feel her.

Kitchen sink, Bill

The Guy at No. 4

I’m an old man now you see, not much left of my identity. Not even my name holds strength anymore, lost among the generation whom know nothing of my gracious monarch name-sake. Assumptions are made. Now wait, I’m not suggesting this a new modern age attribute. We are all prone to assumption, everyday you assume, but it is how you actually assume- are you aware of your assumption? Or does it present itself in your prejudices?

My life has been a long one. I have been expressly blessed. I continue to be. I have loved, I have been loved. I have seen the new worlds and the old ones. I am educated, but I have lived. I am proud of my life.

But now I am an old man. Have I said that? Repetition is something you will find happens a lot with age, but I’m not demented, yet. I work very hard to keep my mind a live, I read constantly. At the moment I’m a third of the way through a wonderful interpretation of… Oh, another thing with age, the tangent! I can’t seem to restrain myself from going off on a lengthy tangent, quite often struggling to return to the original point, much to my grown children’s dismay might I add!

So returning to the original point of, do I have an original point?

I’m an old man now. By exterior, I would suggest I do not look my age. But how daft this sounds now I am here myself, I always said as a youth, ‘everyone over seventy looks the same age.’ How very untrue, my ignorant younger self’s assumption you see! Perhaps because my generation is the first to have lived to such a decrepit state. Alas my assumption was true! For the population of ‘oldies’ almost only lived into their seventies- and that was stretching it! Ah ha! Another tangent. Where was I?

My youthful good looks! My thick grayed, whitening, locks fading on top. My face crafted with the lines of a life lived, laughs splintering out from the corners of my eyes, tell tales creases around my lips, my skin has faded whitening like my once blonde barnet. I remarked to the family, that i felt as though I was becoming translucent. Given the often used expression of a person being transparent my wonderfully intelligent Granddaughter commented that, I was so and that she thought this because I was loving and caring and expressed my opinions even if I knew it to be unpopular which would show I was somewhat see-through. However I was completely private about somethings therefore the obvious deduction would be that I am translucent! I smiled after her proclamation and said, ‘Sweetheart, I meant my skin!’ We made many more laughter splinters in that moment!

I am the guy at number four to the children on the avenue. They are new families, young, the parents are many generations below myself. I am probably the guy at number four to the parents as well!

Alas, I must use the loo, another attribute of the OAP!