I Am Old

The first e-mail that I opened this morning was from Rachel McAlpine. Rachel, like me, is old and celebrates it.

We are both in our 80s and live in the same city but have never met.  Rachel is a poet, author, and artist.  Visit her and see how she celebrates her age.

I tell most younger people who comment on my age that if they are lucky, they’ll get to be my age one day.  As we know, so many people don’t reach my vast age. My response is usually met with looks of amazement as they often then go on to ask whether I still drive.

I tell most younger people who comment on my age that if they are lucky, they’ll get to be my age one day.  As we know, so many people don’t reach my vast age. My response is usually met with looks of amazement and they often then go on to ask whether I still drive.

I have enjoyed each of the phases of my life, some, of course, more than others. But now I can say I honestly enjoy this phase. Oh, there are some obstacles when we’re old. I can no longer walk the long distances I used to, but I can still walk, albeit with the aid of a stick. The alternative to a stick is not to walk, which would be totally unacceptable.

 I can still drive to my favourite beach and while I no longer walk along the sand I can walk along the esplanade and enjoy the sights and sounds of people on the beach. Incidentally, I am a Pisces, so water is very important to me, and I am happiest close to it. 

There are those occasional and mostly strange, twitches and aches and pains. Our bones are more fragile but with extra care, we can make sure (as much as we can) that they don’t break.

I know that I am one of the lucky ones. My health is good for which I am truly thankful. I can get out and about and do those things that interest me. 

 I do have several younger friends but of course, most of my friends are now my age, so we do things at a slower pace – but still do things.

So how are you enjoying your age? Each day passes so quickly and can never be replayed. Enjoy each day as best you can, and be thankful for it.

And – If you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.

JB February 23, 2023


Can You Hear What I Hear?

“Once you appreciate one of your blessings, one of your senses,
your sense of hearing, then you begin to respect the sense
of seeing and touching and tasting,
you learn to respect all the senses.”
Maya Angelou, American poet, and civil rights activist.

Following my misadventure six years ago, it was discovered that I had lost 50% of my hearing in one ear and about 30% in the other, so I had to have hearing aids.  Of course, six years down the track, technology has moved on and what was once state-of-the-art has now been overtaken and so it was necessary to get some new hearing aids.  And yesterday was the day to pick up my new set.

These are so much more adaptable than the old ones and while I haven’t had the opportunity to check them out in a crowded restaurant yet, I am very pleased with the progress. So that’s my Christmas present to myself! 

And now I ask myself are the birds singing louder? Is the music louder and are the children playing in the schoolyard making more noise? But no, I realise this is because I have my new hearing aids in.

And talking about Christmas, have you done your shopping? Are all your gifts wrapped? Is your tree up and decorated? Yes, this is certainly a busy time for everyone.

So, my wish for you today is that you can do all the things you have to do and also make a little quiet time just for you.,

JB, December 8, 2022
Welington. NZ

My Lot Is Cast

My Lot Is Cast

Catching up on the posts I have missed during this busy week, I read this from Waking Up On The Wrong side of 50 – Life Lessons, I thought back to a post I wrote 10 years ago.  I talked then about ageing and how things change as we get older.  I would like to repost some of that here:

In that post, I talked about my sisters both of whom live/lived on the other side of the world, both were prolific readers and emails were full of books each of us had read.  My sister in Los Angeles (she died in August last year) was apparently very fond of Nicola Upson’s series about detective Jacqueline Tey.  She quoted one of her favourite poems which came from the book “To Love and Be Wise

“My lot is cast in inland places,
Far from sounding beach
and crying gull,
And I
who knew the sea’s voice from my babyhood
Must listen to a river purling
Through green fields
And small birds gossiping
Among the leaves”.

I don’t live in inland places – the ocean is about 10 minutes drive away, but I miss the sights and sounds of the ocean that I used to see from all the windows of my home.  It seemed that we were surrounded by the sea and its activities. For 15 years we lived in that house.  The children spent their teenage years there and we became almost immune to the fantastic views from most windows.  We could see not only the ocean with all its comings and goings (cruise ships, ferries, barges and tugs for the port)  but the planes landing at the airport, and the trains bringing people and goods into our capital city. So maybe this post should be headed “Trains and Boats and Planes”.
And as in this poem, now I don’t hear the crying gulls when I awaken in the morning but I do hear the small birds gossiping among the leaves.  I love the thought of the birds gossiping.
I hear the sounds of busy families getting ready for their day – households waking up, newspapers being brought in, children going to school and parents to work.  The road outside my house is alive with activity for a short time each morning and then, as if a switch has been pulled, the peace descends and only those of us who are no longer living the busy years are left behind.
We have time for another leisurely cup of coffee; time to exchange pleasantries with our neighbours as we retrieve the newspaper from the drive; time to read the newspaper, complete the crossword and as I am getting older, I peruse the death notices just in case there is somebody I know mentioned there.
And so –

My lot is cast
In different places
Not beside the river or the ocean
But in the city with its life and vitality.
Not in the distant years of my youth
Nor the busy years of family life
But the peaceful years of time for me
To enjoy friends and family.
Time to investigate new things
New activities and new friends
Time to be me.

Tuesday Torment

Yesterday Chris rode the rails.  Did you read that post?

Well, today I rode the rails. It was a beautiful Spring rain, sunshine, and no hint of rain.  I had planned to visit my friend in the care home.  I told her this when I left a few days ago.

And here, we are so very lucky.  From the age of 65, we are all given a Gold Card which allows us to travel on public transport for free.  The stipulation is that it can be used only during off-peak hours 10 am – 3 pm. Not a problem for me.  I don’t want or need to travel in busy times.

So rather than drive, I took advantage of the public transport, and I rode the rails.

A ten-minute drive to the local railway station, where there is only one disability park and as I now have a card, I use that.  I have only once seen another car in “my park”

Ten minutes into town and then another train for a 50-minute ride. Very easy and by doing so, I don’t have to worry about those less than courteous drivers thronging our roads. So,

“Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;…

This electric train hurtles along through the suburbs, small towns and villages, skimming houses and gardens, schools, and shops.  But nowhere did I see the things Chris saw.  Homeless and desperate people I suspect tend to hover in groups and in places like shopping malls or church yards.

Of course, there was graffiti aplenty on walls everywhere, but I suggest that is another worldwide problem.

What I saw and what tormented me on this Tuesday was in the “lounge” of the care facility. My friend had been to exercise class and after the exercise (hands and arms, legs and feet moving to music) eight elderly, (well old really) people sat while the facilitator, a young man of about 50, took them through a quiz. Apparently, the exercise class and the quiz and discussions, are daily occurrences.

There were four men and four women.  Several walkers lined up outside the lounge and a couple inside with their owners. 

And it was a sorry sight.

These people were not homeless or destitute.  Far from it, as it costs in excess of $75,000 pa to be in this place.  They were obviously safe and well cared for but…

How awful for these once active, busy people to end their lives like this.  They will never live anywhere but here, and really they have only death to look forward to.  Oh yes, they can look forward to visits from family and friends, and perhaps the odd trip out with the family and friends, and an occasional outing in the people mover that proudly proclaims they are from this total care home,

Over the two months that she has been there, my friend has become institutionalised.  She eats when they say eat, showers and dresses, and retires according to their timetable, and of course, attends these exercise classes.  

But where is the active, totally interested, and interesting person who was my friend?  Gone now I suspect.  She seems only to be interested in herself, her physical presence, her ailments and not much else.  She doesn’t read the magazines I bring her, and she watches TV or plays games on her iPad to pass the time, and seriously that is all she is doing now – passing time.

I really don’t want to end my life like that.

JB October 4, 2022
Wellington, NZ