The Days Dwindle Down

Oh it’s a long, long while, from May to December. But the days grow short, when we reach September…” Frank Sinatra would sing, and my mother would sing along. This was one of her favourite songs—especially at the advent of autumn. Her other favourite was “Les Feuilles Mortes” . Both these songs are somewhat depressing: time is running out, peeps, and we’d best make hay while we can.

Days Resized_20181001_091952_7745Tomorrow is my birthday, and for the last few days I’ve been humming the September Song. Initially, I supposed this was because I was thinking about my mother. Today, insight struck me: for the first time ever, I was singing the song because the lyrics felt disturbingly relevant.

For a while there, I had to fortify myself with extra amounts of tea while absorbing the fact that I am getting old. Me! A person who still looks at trees while considering the best way to climb them, who spends hours this time of the year looking for the shiniest and most beautiful conkers, who cannot pick up a longer stick without swishing it through the air and pretending it’s a sword. I will pass a rocky outcrop, clamber on top and whisper “Geronimo!” (I realised years ago that yelling Geronimo while jumping off my perch had people throwing me worried looks). Mind you, jumping off anything is no longer an option, so this Geronimo would have to shuffle carefully off the rock, which sort of dilutes from the overall experience, but still…

Days 20190926_160837When I shared this with hubby, he just laughed. Then he told me that to him, I looked exactly the same as I did when we first met and would run towards each other yelling “Catherine” and “Heathcliff!” respectively. I snorted. I know I don’t look like that long gone girl, I mean I have eyes in my head.

“No? And what do you see when you look at me?” hubby asked. I tilted my head to the side and studied him. And yes, I see that his hair is a whitish grey, that he is softer round the middle and doesn’t have quite as impressive a butt, but over it all hovers the vision of him as he was when we met. I can’t really see him as anything else than my Johan, and that image was engraved in my heart so many years ago it is impossible to erase.

He nodded. “Precisely.” This man of mine swept me into a quick embrace and kissed me before letting me go. “Besides, getting old sure beats the alternative,” he said as he made for the door and the exciting tasks waiting for him outside. Like checking on Arnold the robot lawnmower, taking a turn or two chopping some wood, or clambering up a ladder to check the gutters.

I returned to my musing. Age, they say, is relative. Except, of course, that it isn’t. There is an element of uncompromising biology to ageing, and whether we like it or not, our bodies change. Yes, we can keep fit, eat healthy stuff, solve umpteen sudokus a day to maintain an agile mind, but eventually we have to reconcile ourselves with the fact that we can no longer do quite as much as we used to.

Growing old in a society so invested in façade rather than content is a bit of a challenge. I remember when I was young (and everyone over the age of forty had a foot in the grave) that older people dressed differently. They wore hats. Tweed suits. They permed and dyed their hair (sometimes in a most unappealing shade of blue). They wore sensible shoes.

These days, those of us pushing upper middle age wear sneakers and jeans. We embrace new fashion trends (well, not all of them. I will NOT buy myself a garment in corduroy no matter how “in” it is. Neither do I wear slippers decorated with tufts of faux fur or consider buying something in vibrant orange), some of us are early adopters of new tech – I am thinking specifically of my dear friend Alison Morton and her hubby Steve who are very much on top of every single technical gadget around.

But despite our attire and our tech savviness, there’s no denying that time is passing as we speak. Years swish by at an alarming rate, a logical consequence of the fact that one year is a substantially larger share of the life of a ten-year-old than a fifty-year-old.

Days 20181002_074327Plus, as we grow older we become increasingly aware of the fact that there is an end point. Yes, even when we are young we know we are born, we live, we die, but it is an abstract concept—life seems pretty eternal when you’re twelve. At my age, death is no longer a stranger. When your parents die, it sort of pushes you to the top of the line, and even if I hope to live many, many years more, I do feel a growing need to ensure I tick off items on my bucket list. Okay, so I should probably start by writing said bucket list, because truth be told, so far it is very vague. It does contain some things:

Hike round the Black Sea

Swim with dolphins

Learn to crochet

Learn Latin

Take a degree in history

Go on a pilgrimage

Plant an ambitious herbal garden

Ride across the Continental Divide in the US

Huh: that bucket list is not all that vague after all. Clearly, I don’t have time to agonise over getting older. I have things to do, places to be, peeps!

Besides, hubby is right: Getting old is better than the alternative.  In Frank Sinatra’s song, the days dwindle down. “And these few precious days I’ll spend with you,” he croons, and I croon along, because I know exactly who I want to spend those days with. I sure hope hubby is as enthusiastic about hiking round the Black Sea as I am!

12 thoughts on “The Days Dwindle Down”

  1. What a lovely (and apposite) post.
    I’m betting I’m older than you, Anna (as is evidenced by the fact that this year I ‘luff’ vibrant orange and it has a place in my wardrobe) but the sentiments are very real. My parents died and I moved to the front of the pew. Today, at the GP, I handed in an Advanced Care Directive because I like to be organised.
    But also like you, every single day I’m given in the future will be lived to the full (hopefully with my OH). And yes, I have a bucket list. Most of which features being in or on the water in some way or other.
    I love the posts you write where you are whimsically philosophical. Do more!!! Hope you’re mending. Cheers.

    1. I like organised people. I am one myself. And you go with the orange – I am happy with my pink 🙂
      One item of clothing I’d like to see revived are leg-warmers. Yes, rather ugly, but oh, so comfy!
      I shall do my best to nurture my whimsically philosophical side.
      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment!

  2. Yes, you start appreciating the days more and are far less careless with them as you get older!
    But Steve is exploring the latest Apple watch and I’m planning next year’s trip to the real Roma Nova as well as showing him the glories of Vienna. Oh, and there’s the new book to write…

  3. Ah, I once had a bucket list but now feel I’d more likely kick said bucket should I attempt most. I’ve resigned myself to the sedentary life alas, due to failing health not want. But I still get up everyday, look after myself, my home, my garden, my two little dogs. I have a lot to be grateful for, eight children, thirty grandchildren and now ten great grandbabies. I love to read (your books are my favourite) knit, decoupage, grow pretty things and fill my garden with colour, watch rubbish soaps on TV and play silly games online. So my lot isn’t too bad after all. I lost my daughter in June and that makes me realise how we must live for and enjoy every day, once you’re gone, you are gone. There is no coming back, unless of course you’re a timeslip character!

    1. eight children??? Thirty grandkids??? I doff my cap. I think your comment highlights obe very important aspect of growing old with grace, namely to accept your limitations and still enjoy life to the full. My condoleances on the loss of your daughter – a big, big hug from me.

      Anna

  4. Inspiring, thought provoking and such gentle humour … lovely blog, Thank you. Hugs to Sue Kelly, truly an inspiration 🤗💕

  5. Very whimsical and thoughtful blog. I particularly resonate with the distinction you make between the biology of aging and our thoughts, ideas, interests, etc. Our bodies do change and not usually for the better! But our minds are, I think, ageless. You retain the playful spontaneity of a child–and I mean that in the best possible sense.
    I’m from the States and here I find that while ageism is a living, breathing reality, there are some advantages to being old (er). Younger people don’t really sit at the feet of elders waiting to hear pearls of wisdom. But as we get older, we get to say what we want and get away with it. Young ‘uns de-sexualize those over 50, women especially, which is freeing in some respects. Relationships are less fraught with sexual tension.
    I dress stylishly and on the young side for someone who is almost 66. I give that another 4-5 years when I will have to re-think my style to a degree. I color my hair, recently having gone from a brightish red to a deep reddish brown with blonde streaks. This softens my pale, aging face. Softens it.
    What I am saying–we can age in our own way, something which was not so true 30, 40 or 50 years ago.
    Keep on keeping on as you and your hubby head into the fall together……
    My beloved husband died 10 years ago when he was only 57. Aging alone is a different kettle of fish.

    1. Thank you for a lovely and insightful comment. And yes, these days we have greater freedom in how we handle our age and that is a good thing. As to hubby, I know I am a very. very lucky woman to have him with me – I send you a long warm hug for reminding me of that!

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