Post 62 Ageing with Dignity

 

As a young man, I often heard old folks remark, usually with a sad smile and a knowing shake of the


head, ‘Growing old is no fun, you know’.   At the time, I didn’t take much notice but I’m now beginning to understand what they meant.       I’m discovering that Old Father Time creeps up on you insidiously.

I was in my forties when I started to use reading glasses but found them to be a nuisance.     When I was working in the surgery they were on, then off, then on again, as I alternated between reading the notes and focussing on my patient.

   Finding the situation unsatisfactory, I invested in some bifocals, but these proved to be a waste of money.   It didn’t matter whether I used the upper or the lower lens, the computer screen remained out


of focus.  In desperation, I bought some varifocal glasses which were more expensive still.  They took a  bit of getting used to, but proved to be a good investment and I now wear them all the time.

In my fifties, I became deaf in my left ear.  For several years, a sense of misplaced pride caused me to shun a hearing aid but, eventually, tired of being told I was shouting, I had to accept that I needed it.   It brought a dramatic improvement, the only downside being a greater awareness of the driving instructions coming from a certain lady sitting in the front passenger seat of the car.  ‘Left, left’, she would say, gesticulating wildly with her right hand.   Yet more expense. I had to invest in a ‘Satnav’ to solve that problem.

In my sixties, I needed a hearing aid in the other ear.  It was either that or divorce as my wife and I regularly came to blows over the volume control on the television.   Why the BBC can’t persuade their


announcers to speak a little louder, and the actors in television dramas to enunciate their words more clearly, I shall never know.  Again I resisted, but in the end I acquiesced, it was worth it for the domestic harmony that returned to our living room each evening.  This brings me to another grouse.   Why do folk seem to find deafness so amusing? Why don’t they regard it with sympathy, as a medical affliction?

I’m now in my seventies, and though I’m pleased to report I still have my own teeth, I’m developing arthritis in a couple of joints;  I guess a walking stick may soon be added to my list of medical aids.  Despite being otherwise healthy, active and, I believe, still of sound mind, I’m beginning to wonder what’s next: a walking frame, an in-dwelling catheter?  I’m certainly realising what those old folk


meant when they used to say ‘enjoy yourself whilst you’re young.  There’s nothing to commend old age.’

The present problem is that my wife says I’m becoming doolally.   I don’t honestly believe that I am, though I’m prepared to admit I may not be very good at remembering names.   I prefer to believe that I’m merely selective in what I choose to remember.   If Jane, that’s my lady wife, tells me that a distant cousin of hers has three children, well, that’s fine, I’ll try to remember it.  But if she goes on to give me their names, ages, then tells me which one has passed grade four on the piano, and the names of their pets, I’m afraid those facts don’t register in my memory bank.   It’s not that I deliberately ignore what I’ve been told, but my brain seems to decide that this information is surplus to requirements.   If it’s not likely to be relevant, my brain seems to say, why bother to remember it?

Recently though, I must admit that I’ve forgotten a couple of things I really ought to have remembered.  There was that birthday card I was supposed to post to one of my wife’s relatives, (no – not to the distant cousin who has three, or was it four children, one of whom played the guitar, or was it the flute).   And there were the Euros I forgot to buy for our next holiday, which of course was


cancelled because of Covid.  And also, unfortunately, our wedding anniversary – now that really did get me into trouble!   There really was no excuse for overlooking it because, when I missed our anniversary last year, I made a forward planning note in my diary which I’d actually read a few days before the big day this year. Unfortunately, I then forgot to do anything about it!

Now I seem to be in trouble most of the time.  If I’m busy in the garden, and a few moments late picking up the grandchildren from school; I’m a ‘scatterbrain’.   I’m ‘empty-headed’ if I forget to put out the rubbish, or come home without the most important item on the weekly shopping list.

Recently though, I saw my chance to turn the tables.   It was Jane’s turn to be forgetful. She’d


promised to arrange for some flowers to be sent to a friend in hospital, and forgot to do it.   Great, I thought, now my chance to get even.

I didn’t say anything at the time, but made a mental note, that the next time she accused me of being forgetful, I would remind her of the flowers that didn’t get sent.

I didn’t have long to wait. Within a week, we ran out of milk and yes, - you’ve guessed it - it had been my job to call at the corner shop to buy some.   I’d forgotten it, and was being reprimanded.   Now, I thought, an opportunity to get my own back, I’ll remind her that I’m not the only one who’s absent-minded.

But dammit, I realised that I’d completely forgotten what it was that she had forgotten, that I had been so desperate to remember!

 

Thought for the day

 

To my deafness I’m accustomed,

To my dentures I’m resigned,

I can manage my bifocals,

But how I miss my mind.   

Lord Home 1903 - 1995

 


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