Every now and again, usually when least expected, life leaps up and bites you on the backside. Like most people, I’ve had a few chunks taken out of me, the latest incident so recent I’m still reeling from it. Over-wrought writing always leaves me feeling a little queasy, so I’m going to toss a few words out and let you build the picture for yourself: accident; emergency; fractured ribs; punctured lung; shattered pelvis; high dependency unit. Now take those words and apply them to your life partner.
For a while it didn’t look good. Try this word for size: catastrophic. Of course I’m talking catastrophic on a personal level. The disaster localised, striking my partner, me, our daughters, close friends and family. The effect rippling out through extended family, colleagues and acquaintances to the point where what was catastrophic for us was merely an item of news for somebody else. At the outer ripples and beyond, life simply went on as it always does.
To the astonishment of medical staff – and everyone else – eight days after his dramatic admission to hospital, my husband was discharged. Full recovery is some way off, but every day there are improvements and, if nothing else, the experience of pain, the threat of death, serves as a reminder that the time we have is precious. It is up to ourselves what we make of it.
As Abraham Lincoln put it, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
LG Thomson is the author of Boyle’s Law, Each New Morn, and Erosion.
Someone recently suggested to me that everyone should retire when they are fifty and die when they are sixty. A little harsh, but I can see where they are coming from. Think about it. You’d get ten years of relative youth and good health. Relative that is to your average ninety year-old, with delicate bones, failing kidneys and loose sphincters. Ten years to take up new pursuits, read all those books you never got around to, or to sit around in your onesie all day watching Netflix.
One of the advantages of the Retire at Fifty, Die at Sixty (RAFDAS) scheme, is that without an aging population to provide care for, there would be plenty of money in the coffers to give everyone a decent retirement. Unfortunately, having turned fifty this year, my RAFDAS death seems a little too close for comfort. If it was put into practice, I’d be tempted to do a Logan’s Run. Though in my case it would be more of a slow jog. But I don’t want to go on forever.
The nonagenarians I know are in a fragile state and only got to that age with a great deal of medical intervention. Often very intrusive intervention. This holds no appeal. Our bodies weren’t designed to last that long so why keep someone going just because you can? One ninety-four year old I know has been told not to eat chocolate because it is bad for her. Well everybody has to die of something. Why not chocolate?
LG Thomson is the author of Boyle’s Law, Erosion and Each New Morn.