The pensioner paradox

The fact that I’m getting older has really hit me this year.  I’m not really bothered by aging like when was in my 20’s and 30’s.  I consider the fact that I have the opportunity to grow older a privilege as there are many who leave this earth too soon and are not graced with the chance to grow old.  As cliché as it is, the fact that I have someone I love to grow old with makes me very lucky indeed.

My hair has been going grey for a long time, premature greying runs in my family.  I ache a lot.  My joints creak and groan a bit and occasionally I make old lady noises whenever I stand up or sit down.  I’ve just got reading glasses (though I’ve not got used to them yet and they make me feel a bit sick).  My shape has changed, my waist isn’t as nipped in as it used to be and it’s much harder to stay in shape than before (and my enthusiasm for doing so has disappeared).  I’m 44.  I cannot conceive
of how I’m going to feel in another 20 years, or more.

How do elderly people even make it through a day?!  In the past I’ve cursed older people for being cranky or short tempered, however, now I realise they’ve got every right to be nowty because even the simplest of tasks must be a herculean effort.  I understand physically that everything just gets much harder than it used to be.

I was never lucky enough to know my grandparents.  My mum’s parents died when she was in her late teens, my dad’s father passed before I was born, though I did meet my paternal grandmother when I was 12 on a visit to Ireland.  She passed away shortly afterwards.  I was however incredibly fortunate to know PS4 man’s nan.  She was in her mid-70’s when he and I started going out and she always used to joke that we’d better hurry up and get married so that she could be around to see it.  As it turned out we got married abroad so no one saw us tie the knot, but she lived beyond that and passed a couple of years ago aged 84.

Nan was a warm, cuddly, white haired, bespectacled lady – everything your mind conjures up when you image a grandmother.  I loved visiting her because she just exuded love for her family and her husband who she’d lost some 11 years earlier.
I liked listening to her tales from when they were younger, how they’d had some tough breaks and were even briefly homeless at one point with two small children.  PS4 man used to go to their caravan in Morecambe when he was a kid and the two of them always
reminisced fondly of those times.  Her favourite thing was to tell me just how much like his grandad PS4 man is.  A quite man of few words who is straight talking and doesn’t suffer fools.

Nan loved bingo.  She always had a bit of difficultly getting about but it didn’t stop her getting two buses into Preston, two or three times a week.  When her mobility became worse she invested in a mobility scooter which weighed the same as a blue whale.  I remember her with fondness and her memory always makes me smile.

As we age I completely understand we go through physical changes and our body effectively suffers the effects of wear and tear.  There are certain traits of getting older however that I just can’t get my head around and that drive me absolutely
potty.  My reference subject for this is my dad.  At 69 he’s an ox of a man, generally fit as a butcher’s dog and walks everywhere.  He’s never frequented the doctor’s office.  It was only after he retired four years ago that he started with any niggles, which
from speaking to people, I believe that’s quite common.  Whilst dad is blessed with general wellbeing, he has on the other hand developed some thoroughly enraging behaviours.

His hearing is most definitely on the blink…sometimes.  Telephone conversations leave me wanting to scream down the phone as he constantly talks over me and doesn’t hear my responses to his conversation in the few gaps he leaves between telling me chapter and verse about everything in the news and how Countryfile got the weather wrong this week, that the forecast was wrong again and how it’s given torrential thunderstorms for the rest of my natural life.  And then he repeats those same things at least three times during the course of talking at me, prior to his attempt to say goodbye several times before he remembers some other critical murder he’s forgotten to tell me about or the latest on the idiot in North Korea and who he’s bombed now.

Other times he can be in the kitchen with the kettle boiling, the TV on full blast and if I mention anything about money, for example, his hearing has the clarity of a top of the range Bose sound system.

He drove me so doolally that my sisters and I managed to convince him to go for a hearing test.  He got two hearing aids and the result was a magical couple of weeks of not having to constantly repeat myself and him hearing what I was saying
in the conversation gaps.  He did take them off a fair bit though which resulted in him actually “loosing” them somewhere in the house.  Can he “find” them? Absolutely not.  I’m not a betting woman but I’m pretty sure that if I put a fiver on him at 10-1 having
hidden them because he doesn’t like wearing them I’d most definitely be collecting £50 at the bookies.  Now every time he says “Pardon”? he has his three daughters shouting at him to find his hearing aids!

I usually give him a call on the way into work in the morning, some time after 6.30am.  When I called one morning last week he told me he’d got up, had his porridge then realised it was only 4.30am.  He’s always been a morning person but is increasingly getting up earlier and earlier.  One day I spoke to him around 7am and he’d done the equivalent of a day’s work before I’d even got to work!

24hr supermarket opening has given my dad a new lease of life.  He’s realise he can go to the supermarket at 5am (to stock up on porridge).  He then repeatedly tells me how quiet it is in town and I’ve given up responding that for most normal people it’s still the middle of the night!

Dad has a particularly fondness for filling the house with flowers, which is a lovely thing.  He often reminisces how my mum loved flowers when she was still with us.  I now truly understand the meaning of the phrase ‘rose tinted glasses’
because I distinctly remember my mum shouting at my dad on many an occasion about not buying flowers because “they’re a bloody waste of money”.  During his dawn shopping raids on Asda he’s figured out that they mark down all the flowers that are just about to go past their best at stupid o’clock in the morning.  This means if he times it just right he can pick up a £10 bouquet for about £3 and many other bunches for 50p each.  He then spends a considerable amount of time asking us to guess how much the flowers
cost each time we go round to visit.

Despite the fact that my dad drives me nuts, I love him to bits of course.  I’ve always been a daddy’s girl.  When he was little he worked seven days a week to earn enough to raise 4 children and keep a roof over our heads and it’s only as I’ve got older I’ve learned to appreciate how much him and my mum sacrificed to keep us warm, safe and fed.  The result of him working so much was him falling asleep on the sofa every single night and my childhood memories of my dad are mostly around trying to tape record him snoring so I could play it back and giggle at him when he woke up.

I don’t work seven days a week and I don’t work a hard manual job, but I still fall asleep on the sofa most evenings.  I think I’m officially starting to turn into my dad.  Question is, how long will it be before PS4 man and I spend our days shouting over the noise of a boiling kettle as he walks through the door from a 5am shopping trip to the supermarket to buy me some 50p flowers and he can’t hear me complaining about the rain?

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