16 December 2017

Expiration

I wonder when I will die.

Just the other day as I was strolling through Ecclesall Woods, it occurred to me that eight years have passed since I walked away from my teaching career. It seems like yesterday.

If I project the same number of years into the future I will be 72 years old. But will I even get that far?

My dear father died at the age of 65 - just one year after he had retired and my oldest brother Paul died in his sleep at the age of 62. I have often thought that I will be lucky if I make 70. So it's very possible that I don't have eight years left. One day when I am least expecting it an invisible iron fist will surely squeeze the life out of my heart muscle and I will die.
And linked to these morbid thoughts is the harsh realisation that some of my dreams will never be achieved. I was meant to be a rock and roll singer. I was meant to write a novel that thousands of other people would enjoy. I was meant be a songwriter. I was meant to compile a selection of the poems I have been writing since the age of six and get it published too. I was meant to bounce grandchildren on my knee. I was meant to create great paintings and carve bowls from chestnut wood.

But I have done some things. I have travelled. I have raised a family. I stuck at the teaching grindstone for as long as I could bear it. I have walked over the landscape and taken photographs of wonderful scenes. I have been kind and above all I have been me. Never seeking approbation. Just being myself. I could never follow the flock. Independence runs through me like the name "Scarborough" in a stick of  seaside rock.

For a fellow of 64 I guess I am quite healthy. I don't smoke and I walk regularly. I am not a drunkard or a drug addict. I eat well - maybe too well. Perhaps I could do with losing a stone or two. Perhaps I could make the effort to go swimming once or twice a week. Things like this.

Death is not something that obsesses me. I shall accept it when it happens in the full knowledge that that will be that. There will be nothing else. But still...

I wonder when I will die.

53 comments:

  1. You might respond differently to your father and brother and live to a ripe old age. You can still start work on some of those projects you mention

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    1. I like your upbeat response Kylie. Thank you.

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  2. I wonder when I will die but I'm glad I don't know. Like you I have had - and am having - a fulfilling life filled with joy and I will die with some dreams unfulfilled. I want to dream right to the end.

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    1. "Dream right to the end" is an admirable philosophy. Thanks for sharing this FC.

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  3. My mother died at 47. My real, biological, father died at 67. I am now 76. My mother’s siblings died at 80, 83, and 88. Their father lived to be almost 96. I have hopes, but no expectations.

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    1. A bit like Philip Pirrip in "Not So Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens who in spite of his large reputation was only 58 when he died. I wonder if he was dreaming right to the end and did he feel fulfilled?

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  4. My grandma used to say "every day above ground is a good 'un" I'm inclined to agree. I'm 7 years clear of breast cancer. We should try to enjoy the journey and not worry so much about the destination.
    Wishing you many years of healthy, enjoyable life! :)

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    1. Thank you Christina. A key word here is "healthy". It is so very hard to enjoy life when you are suffering from ailments that take up a big part of your head space. Even so I acknowledge and nod my head to your grandma's earthy aphorism.

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  5. You might live longer than your family history would indicate. My father died at 46, my only sibling at 66, my mother at 75. I'm 81, and still hanging in there. I kind of wish I had taken better care of myself, but it's mostly been a great life. My role model might be a lady who lived in this facility. She celebrated her 100th birthday last April, wheelchair-bound, but mentally alert and constantly reading a book. She was chatty and cheery at lunch one day last week, and died that night. Definitely the way to go.

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    1. Yeah! That's the way to go Mary. No hint of dementia in the centenarian you referred to. Thanks for dropping by again. When you say you are in a "facility" I presume you mean a prison. You must have been a naughty girl!

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    2. Senior Living - mostly assisted living, but a few of us "independents". I still drive and do my own thing, but get all meals, cleaning, stuff like that. I moved in two years ago when my husband died.

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    3. Oh dear. I hope you weren't offended when I implied you might be a convict! Is the facility called Courtyard by Marriott? After all it sounds like a hotel! Good that you still enjoy big measure of independence and by the sound of it you made a very wise life choice two years back.

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    4. Definitely not offended. There are those, I'm sure, who think I should be a convict. This is definitely not a Marriott, but suits my needs very well. Plus it makes my children happy.

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  6. I think as we reach these years, we start to realize that we can't go back and add to the years gone by. I guess it's a good reminder to make the most of each day - if there's something you really want to do or accomplish, don't put it off anymore...get started! I suggest you begin with a good cup of coffee and a gingerbread man for inspiration!

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    1. Yes Pam but which part of the gingerbread man should I bite off first?

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  7. You are a writer that many enjoy so in ways you've fulfilled a dream. My Mom died at 71, she smoked herself to death, my Dad just short of 81 and he did everything wrong, so who knows what the future holds, but I too hope to keep enjoying the journey.

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    1. Being able to publish on the internet certainly gives me a happy buzz Mac ;n Janet. Thanks for calling by and thoughtfully considering the content of this blogpost.

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  8. I just hope I don't know anything about it when the time comes. I don't like goodbyes.

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    1. Bye bye love
      Bye bye sweet caress
      Hello emptiness
      I feel like I could die

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  9. It really depends on all sorts - genes, environment, general health. Get the right mix and you could live into your nineties or beyond. Walk in front of a bus and it could be tomorrow! Make contingency plans for those left behind, but enjoy each day as it comes.

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    1. There's stuff in this house I need to sort out. I must get ready. Don't want Shirley to have to face it all. Hell there are poems and other scribblings here that I put into notebooks when I was fourteen!

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  10. My solicitor referred to a sudden death while asleep as a "millionaire's death." Then added thoughtfully, "Oh. That sounds odd. Perhaps I've been doing wills and probate for rather too long..."

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    1. My brother was far from being a millionaire when he died in his sleep. I think your solicitor might need to check his facts more carefully Jenny.

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  11. This seems to be the time of year to think about such things. It's cold and dark. But soon the days will lengthen and that (for me at least) is the best antidote to dark, depressing thoughts.

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    1. You are probably right Jennifer. Our thoughts and feelings are often influenced by the weather and the seasons.

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  12. I really like this post and the comments, Neil. For too many people, death is still a taboo. They do not talk about it and feel uncomfortable when others do. And yet, death is so much part of life, we should all accept that. This is not fatalism - I love life, especially MY life, but I know nothing lasts forever, no matter hiw much we want it to.
    Anyway, you bring a lot of pleasure and joy to your readers - here and of your book - and to those who are privileged to have one of your paintings. Last but not least by the photos and descriptions of your walks and hikes!

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    1. Thanks for your kind encouragement Meike but I will not be swayed. You won The Laughing Horse Blogger of the Year Award in 2014!

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  13. I really don't care when it happens. I just don't want to be sick or not be able to take care of myself. If that should begin to happen, I have made plans so that I can go quietly. In the meantime, tho, I will never stop learning or doing what I can to make my life a testament to perseverance and hope!

    My father died at age 66 in 1956. My brother died last year of the same heart disease....at age 66. I figured it out. In 60 years, with all the medical research and breakthroughs, my baby brother lived on this earth just 13 days longer than my father did. That fact made me sorta' mad!

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    1. You have made plans that you can go quietly? Do you mean a pair of socks in your mouth PT?

      "Doing what I can to make my life a testament to perseverance and hope!" and that is also a testament to your father and your brother who went too early.

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  14. Blimey, that's a bit morbid. My dad died at 46, smoked and drank himself to death.My mum died at 64 was over weight though she managed to stop smoking. I have never smoked, like a bottle of wine now and again, and hope to make at least 90. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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    1. Thanks for calling by Queen of Mean. Sorry for being so morbid - it's just that I am already filled with the happy spirit of Christmas! I hope you make 90 - after all you often made 90 in your lorry!

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  15. I tend to think about these things, too, after seeing the way so many people ended up at my father's nursing home. I am wholly in the "journey not destination" crowd. I also like the comment above to "dream right to the end" as well. My daily life is satisfying to me and I'm glad for each one of them. Except maybe the really frustrating/bad ones, but they aren't that common.

    To echo other comments, I get a lot of enjoyment from your writing, painting, and photos. I think it's time for you to add videos of your singing, though :)

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    1. *glad for each day (not "each one of them" - should have proofread!)

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    2. I am singing in a choir as you have clearly remembered but to me that is not the real singing. Maybe one day I shall sing a song of my own and stick it on this blog. You have been warned Jenny!

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    3. You really should. Some of us know that choir singing is real singing, too, by the way. One of those would do while you are polishing up your solo.

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  16. I'll try to keep positive; it's Christmas after all :)
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. Christmas lights cause death by electrocution every year so please by careful with yours Maria. Being frazzled by faulty lights is not a nice way to go.

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  17. No point dwelling on it (I know you're not). It is inevitable; none of us are infallible.

    I turned 73 this past November. I'm the sole survivor of what was once my small family unit. When I'm gone...I'm gone..done, dusted and forgotten.

    There are many things I wished I'd done; had been capable of doing. I wish there was much in my life that had turned out differently.

    It is what it is...so I guess I'd better do the vacuuming today. That is something that needs to be done. I meant to do it yesterday.

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    1. Just make sure you don't accidentally fall on the floor and get sucked up by the vacuum cleaner. That would be an awful way to go!

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    2. It could very well be the way I go, Yorie. And if I fell here in my little cabin, no one would know...or probably care.

      One of my biggest fears is falling...hence why I use my walking stick at all times...and it will be in operation alongside the vacuum cleaner, which I'm about to fire up.

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    3. "Fire up"? Good heavens! Is it a Victorian vacuum cleaner?

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    4. One would hope not, seeing I purchased it, brand new, only a week ago.

      But, who knows? Maybe it is as old and as weird as I am, and as some of the terminology I use.

      I guess you guys up in the northern climes don't have your own peculiar descriptive terms. No doubt they are restricted to us peculiar Aussie of the southern climes.

      Two things are for certain...I didn't trip over while vacuuming (thank goodness, and I'm now sweating like crazy, even though I've just had a lukewarm shower.

      It is as humid as a steaming pot of thick soup here today!

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  18. I think if we are honest death bothers us all but at the moment it bothers me more than usual with Tom being unwell.
    I have learnt over the years with Tom having had so much illness (heart attack out of the blue, blood clots on the lungs three times out of the blue for instance plus other bits and pieces ) that you can never be sure what the next hour will bring so we both try to live each day to the full, whatever full means to you.
    I think that the fact that your Dad and Brother died so early does not mean the same will happen to you. My Dad and brother died in their 60's but so far I am still going strong at 72 so get out in that countryside and make hay while the sun shines. lol
    Briony
    x
    x

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    1. I can't make hay in December Briony! But I accept your advice. I hope Tom has a good Christmas and enjoys the comforts of this season.

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  19. You're kind of black today! We only have today. How much longer nobody knows and this old boy doesn't worry about it. Well, I do a little bit. I organized my end of life care and power of attorney recently. My daughter threw a hissy fit because she didn't want any more problems than necessary.I never expected to be 78 but here I am.

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    1. What do you mean I'm black? Hell, I am a thoroughbred Yorkshireman as white as a porky pig.

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    2. Your topic is black! I'm married to a Yorkshire lass . I'm reminded over and over about her people.

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    3. She must have done something very, very bad indeed to be exiled to the wilds of Canada.

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  20. Thoughts that we all get from time to time YP, but as Dylan said in his song of the same name
    "when you're standing on the crossroads
    that you cannot comprehend
    just remember that death is not the end
    and all your dreams have vanished
    and you don't know what's up the bend
    just remember that death is not the end"

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    1. Do you think that Dylan was right about this? I don't.

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  21. I think you're immortal! Seriously, all we can do is take care of ourselves and live as well as possible, right? Like you, I sometimes realize I'm closer to the end than the beginning -- and my grandfather died at 59! But as my parents used to tell me when I was little and would express a fear of death, "Live each day."

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    1. I will be immortalised via this blog. Long after I have bitten the dust, pilgrims will come from all over the internet and I shall live again! Begone Henchman!

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