2 May 2013

Mortality

Ten years ago, we had a lovely family holiday in America. We flew into Boston and picked up a hire car which I drove up to New Hampshire. After tootling around New England for a few days, we headed across Massachussetts westwards to Albany and Niagara Falls. Next it was on past the shores of Lake Erie to the suburbs of Youngstown, Ohio where we stayed with my old camp counselling "buddy", Chris and his family. Then onwards to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania before driving into New York City in a Friday evening thunderstorm. How the rain gushed down! Three nights in The Big Apple then back to Merry Olde England. Smashing. The kids loved it. Shirley loved it. I loved it. I think we are all Americophiles. 

I could fill in the details of that trip - add some colour. Watching "42nd Street" - actually on 42nd Street, visiting Boston's main hospital after Ian had a worrying allergic reaction to an insect bite, singing every verse of "On Ilkley Moor Bah Tat" in a remote Ohio steakhouse and bar to the delight of the assembled customers, simply laughing with Chris and his family, drinking "Schlitz", visiting Cleveland's Rock n Roll Hall of Fame etc. but what I mainly want to say is all of this happened ten years ago just before my fiftieth birthday.

It seems like yesterday. I can remember so many details. But it was ten years ago.

My father died at sixty five, my brother Paul at sixty two. Even though I am approaching my sixtieth birthday, I feel as fit as a fiddle, gallivanting about South East Asia - but how much time have I got left? I have rarely contemplated my death but when I have, I have never been able to see myself dying like my mother or Nana Morris - in my mid-eighties in a residential home for the elderly. No, not that way.

Having just looked back ten years, can I realistically look forward ten further years? Another decade? Exactly the same span of time. That would bring me to 2023. But will I get there? Will I ever reach my seventieth birthday? Somehow I doubt it. Death will probably come to find me before then. But if fortune gives me ten more years, I guess I need to start thinking even more urgently about how I will use those years. I don't want to squander the time, I want to live it. These precious ten years ahead will pass all too quickly as the past ten years have proven and only then will this random blogging cease my friends. Only then will this Yorkshire pudding be totally digested. Till then I'll keep on keeping on.

11 comments:

  1. I've been doing some research on this "death" thing to see if it's something that I might want to do. According to the best minds of Hollywood you must prepare a few last words so that when everything goes oddly quiet and your head is lifted up by a loved one you just have time for one more pearl of wisdom before your head lolls to one side and the dog howls.

    I'm thinking "Oh shit" or "Your knee is in my groin, Hardy" as my last words.

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  2. Not one of us knows when our time will come YP, and waking up each morning is a blessing. Keep on keeping on.

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  3. Barring accidents or a terminal illness, I can't see why you wouldn't live much longer than the next ten years, YP and anyway, you have to so that you can write more novels!

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  4. I tend to agree YP. In the past when I've reached one of those ending in O birthdays they felt like a landmark. Now as I near 60, it looks more like the finishing post, or at least the last furlong.

    But I also think that contemplating my own mortality will be the death of me!

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  5. Someone told me just yesterday that it is natural for us to reflect and contemplate as we approach these milestone birthdays. You are so correct .. Where did those last 10 years go. Roll on 50 .. The new 30 :)

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  6. Well, this post was fine in a morbidly satisfying sort of way. Every year passes faster and faster. At 72, I consider every new day a gift. My mother died at 47 and my dad at 60, but my aunt lived to be 88 and my grandfather 95. So I don't have a clue about what to expect in terms of longevity. You'll find as you age that the important things become more important and the unimportant things drop off, lessen, fade away.

    I do remember waking up on my 50th birthday and thinking, "I'm now closer to my 100th birthday than I am to the day I was born."

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  7. I understand what you're saying YP. I look around me these days and see many of my friends suffering terminal diseases or freakish accidents and have often thought that we must live every minute. But then sometimes that all gets a bit much and humdrum is so comfortable and you need lots of money to travel to all the places I want to go. I guess you must try to get the most out of all that you do and above all ENJOY what you do and spend time with the people you love.

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  8. Thelma and Louise like, man and I, are taking a champagne picnic to Beachy Head. After copious amounts of 'bad for you food' washed down with bubbles, measured not in gills but fathoms, gently slipping the hand brake we will fly.........

    LLX

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  9. My father died at 49, my mother at 75, my sister at 66. I'm really hanging in there at 77. Not as great as I was 10 years ago, but still going. My mother's sister died recently at 91. I don't know that I'll make that, but (if my mind can stay as sharp as hers) I'm willing to give it a try.

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  10. I wish there had been more years between 30 and 45.

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  11. IAN HUTSON Last words? Mmm.. let me see. For me it'll either be "Is that it then?" or "Sorry nurse, I think I've weed myself"
    LIBBY You're right. Just to be alive - a miracle.
    JENNY Thanks for your positivity but I'm a man and we die younger than the ladies. But I will get back to novel writing real soon...
    SHOOTING TAROTS Ha! Ha! Contemplating mortality will probably be the death of me too!
    CAROL CUNNINGHAM Thanks for dropping by again. Milestone birthdays are better than gravestone ones!
    RHYMES WITH PLAGUE Even now, I am more chilled, more tolerant than I used to be. Somehow, it doesn't seem worth it - getting worked up about trivial things.
    HELEN Yes, the idea that we can live each day as if it were our last could become quite tiresome.
    LETTICE Great idea for departure - but what about the poor buggers who'll have to clean up the mess at the bottom and salvage the car wreckage?
    MARY Z I guess it's natural that as we reach the last years of our lives we will contemplate our leaving more frequently. Seventy seven? Do you do a sunset strip? Call me.
    JAN BLAWAT Between 30 and 45 we maybe shouldn't have slept so much - just to make those years stretch out.

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