"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."
I wrote those words in this blog ten years ago - back in May 2013. The early deaths of several male members of my family has always limited my own expectations of a long life. But now, as I approach my seventieth birthday later this year I feel healthy and vigorous with the feeling that I have got a lot more living left to do. Perhaps I will make it to eighty after all. One more decade.
Then I will live to see three grandchildren reach the age of reason - their pre-adulthood. I would like that - especially as both of my grandfathers were dead before I was born. It always felt like a yawning hole in my experience of my life. But hopefully Phoebe and the two unborn babes will be able to remember me.
In Great Britain, the current life expectancy for a man is 79.0 years and for a woman it is 82.9 years. That should give me extra hope that I can live for another decade. By the way, the average life expectancy for a man in the USA is 74.5 years and for a woman it is 80.2 years. In Australia it is 81.3 years for a man and 85.4 years for a woman.
Of course those are broad brushstroke national figures. Poverty, diet, housing and healthcare have a massive impact upon life expectancy in every nation on this planet. Another key factor is smoking tobacco. I was one of four brothers but now there are just two of us. The two who died were both lifelong smokers but the two who survive are non-smokers.
Please don't tell me that I am being morbid or that I should think positive and lighten up. I don't need such platitudes when I am being pragmatic and clear-sighted about my mortality.
So many of us prefer to wear blinkers when contemplating our own deaths, trying to block the only inevitability there is from our thinking. When the roofers have left our house this weekend I will be going up their scaffolding to paint the rendering on our house - on all three sides. It is a horrible, slow job involving plenty of dabbing in the gaps between the pebbles but at least I know that I will never have to do it again.
I don't think you're being particularly morbid, Neil, only pragmatic about what must come to us all. I'm glad you're sounding more optimistic about making it to 80, though! I predict at least that many more years for you, barring bad luck. All that walking you do will keep you going longer than average, I'll bet.ReplyDelete
I am very conscious that my walks have side benefits for my health. I just hope that my knees stay healthy because painful knees prevent long walks as I have discovered in the past.Delete
I think it is very wise to consider one's mortality but not to dwell on it. It makes life that little bit more precious. I am fortunate to come from a family of longevity (paternal uncle turns 100 next week) as does the husband but that is no guarantee that we will reach those numbers.ReplyDelete
And that feeling of that is last time I have to do .... is quite liberating. Such is the blessing of being older. (Note - I didn't say "old").
Thank you Sparkling Babycham. So "HImself" is 100?Delete
As we age we spend more time contemplating our future. We can think of various options. HOWEVER, we don't know when the clock will run out for us. Nothing is written in stone about our time.ReplyDelete
The end game is a lottery.Delete
So what are the odds?Delete
The bank always wins, in the end.Delete
I too have the simple wish that I'll survive long enough for my grandsons to have cherished memories of and with me.ReplyDelete
Are we being selfish in that regard Margaret? I don't know but that is how I feel.Delete
I often think about my own death and how much longer I have left. I'm sixty, I may live to be 84 and I know how fast the years slip by. I also know that after 80, my mum's health and independence started to decline rapidly. None of us knows, do we?ReplyDelete
None of us knows, do we?.... That's for sure. As I said to Red - it's a lottery in the end.Delete
I hope you do get your ten extra years and another ten after that. For myself I wish the same, I'd like to see my great-grandson grow up as well as the almost one-year-old twins.ReplyDelete
Do I want to be ninety? I am not so sure. Let's have a competition River. We are about the same age. The one who dies first buys the other one dinner!Delete
I'm not going to tell you you're morbid or need to lighten up because I have the same outlook. It took root in me when my father had his paralyzing stroke and spent his last eight years in a wheelchair at a nursing home. I saw a lot of sobering things at that nursing home. And when my husband fell ill and then died, it made me think even more of the fragility and capriciousness of our lives and how long I may have left. Okay, maybe I am the one who needs to lighten up. But pragmatism is definitely better than blithe ignorance.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your reflections - coming as they do from someone who has had to face death and its repercussions head on.Delete
You won‘t hear platitudes about ‚it being someone‘s time‘ (or not) from me. Death comes to all of us, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. It seems particularly unfair when a child dies before the parents, or when an accident rips a person out of life in their prime, totally unexpectedly. Some deaths could have been prevented or postponed by a healthier lifestyle, some simply happen without us able to influence the circumstances.ReplyDelete
Death should not be a taboo, as it is omnipresent.
Phoebe is already conscious enough to build memories involving her grandparents. I agree it would be wonderful for you to live long enough to see all three grandkids grow up and be the grandfather for them that you sadly missed in your own childhood.
As usual your response is very well-considered and I appreciate that.Delete
I find myself having those same thoughts about my own mortality. As you say, it is not morbid just a natural part of growing old. However, do take care up that scaffolding.ReplyDelete
It should be much safer than being up a ladder.Delete
A more alarming statistic is HLE (Healthy Life Expectancy). You have already beaten the odds by a long way.ReplyDelete
I must look up those statistics. When I consider my friends - people of around my age - I think I am just about the only one who doesn't wear glasses or hearing aids or take regular medication for something. I know I have been fortunate thus far but I also know that it could all fall apart tomorrow.Delete
The older you get, the more often you think about your demise. It should be a fleeting thought and then we should get on with enjoying what time we have left.ReplyDelete
I echo JayCee's comments about the scaffolding.
I don't ponder my own mortality very often. Ever since I became an aunt and a mother, I've focused my worry on the health and safety of the children in my life. My main concern about my own demise was that my household would fall into rack and ruin. If I wasn't around to supervise, would my boys eat vegetables regularly or remember to give the dog fresh water.ReplyDelete
I wonder why we Canadians live about a year longer than you Brits. Hmmmm.
Just don't fall off the scaffold! (Famous last words, right?)ReplyDelete
In this day and age I don't think it's at all unreasonable to expect to live to 80 or beyond. There are no guarantees, of course, but people live a long time now.
I think you are being realistic, and we are at the age where our contemporaries, our classmates, are starting to die. That is how the average life expectancy - half of us die before that age. Do and enjoy what you want, while you can.ReplyDelete
Although I am sure that all of us are fairly certain we'll be the first immortal human, we all know we are going to die. You're born, you die. That's the deal. At least you probably won't die in a mass shooting at the local grocery store.ReplyDelete
I don't worry about dying as much as I worry about running out of money before I die.ReplyDelete
I wish I could know when I was going to die so I could budget it out to last or start spending wildly if I don't have long to live. ;)
According to your average, I still have another 25 years of kicking around. But already, I am thinking of projects that I accomplish that I will most likely never have to do again. Either I won't be around to do it or I'll be smart and wealthy enough to pay someone else to do them for me.ReplyDelete