I write this on the eve of my fifty-seventh birthday.
“Mummy, you’re nearly sixty!” proclaimed my younger daughter, with brutal frankness. You don’t seem to realise how old you are!
But I don’t feel old: I still feel young!
Because none of us actually feel “old”. I am sure Colonel Tom, now 100, does not feel old. I, only just over half his age, certainly do not feel “old;” yet the last few weeks have made me realise that, while my mind may be in denial, my body is becoming older. It is getting tired.
Every Monday, from the beginning of the lockdown, I have gone shopping for my own family, for my mother and for a friend who is self-isolating.
I am used to shopping for the family, but I have found that shopping for three families totally exhausts me. By the time I have got everything home, put my own shopping away, calculated how much everyone owes me and delivered it to them, I have no energy left. The stamina I used to take for granted has left me – and I didn’t notice it go – until I needed it and it wasn’t there.
I am lucky enough to have skin that doesn’t show many lines and have, no grey hairs – but I have noticed, when I am tired, my face looks older too. Vanity, perhaps, but I grieve for that loss.
A friend posted on Facebook, “What things on your bucket list do you now realise will never happen? What dreams have you let go?”
That hit hard.
I had always loved the idea of an African safari on horseback. I have not, however, mounted a horse since falling off and breaking my ankle in February 2016, and the safari organisers state that you should be used to riding for seven or eight hours a day. Realistically, you could only do that if you have your own horse – and, while I might be able to talk my brother into letting me keep a horse on his farm – no, it’s not going to happen. And – the budget isn’t there and is unlikely ever to be there.
Walking around the South West Peninsular coastal path, though? I can still do that. When I first thought of it, some 25 years ago, I planned to camp and carry everything on my back. When I think of it now, I rather fancy walking from B&B to B&B and having someone else transfer my luggage for me.
It would be nice to do it while I still can. I don’t want to wait too long.
I think Colonel Tom has done magnificently, and he certainly proves you are never too old to make a difference. But I should prefer to walk the real coastal path, rather than walking the same distance around my garden with my wheeled walker when I am 99.
I am fifty-seven tomorrow and I will walk at least some of that path before I am sixty.
I’d better start planning now.
A Moodscope member.