I wrote this piece on 18 April 2014 when I turned 60.
That doesn't sound like a lot of years to me, but I guess to younger people it sounds ancient; I know 40 years ago I couldn't imagine being 60. People older than me are very reassuring when they wished me today, “you won’t feel any different,” they say, “even when you reach my age.”
That’s a scary thought because I don’t ever ask them how old they are, something that was drummed into me as a child. “Don’t ever ask an adult how old they are, especially if they are ladies.” This was usually said through thin lips in a shouty voice, and accompanied by a wagging index finger.
When my eldest was about 4 or 5, he did something that only beautiful blond boys can get away with. A friend of his Gran had come to visit her; the express purpose being to meet this apple of her eye.
She was an elderly dowager with purple-rinsed hair held together with a grey fine-filigree net, and she sucked genteelly on old-fashioned boiling sweets.
She cooed and clucked around him until his boredom could no longer be denied. While the young man played, his Gran and her friend had tea and biscuits while they compared their respective grandchildren.
Finally the dowager took her leave, and my son was summoned to say goodbye. Sitting on her chair with his head just above her knees, she twittered and told him how nice it was to have met him, and that she looked forward to meeting him again soon.
At this last statement he stopped and gazed at her in horror.
“Oh no you won’t see me again,” he said, “you’ll be dead by then!”
The old lady’s fond smile immediately changed into a sniff of disgust. She harrumphed out the door as politely as she could without giving offence, while my son gazed delightedly at the sight of his Gran rolling on the floor trying not to laugh too loudly.
Is this the age I have entered into? To be perceived by people younger than me as approaching death any time soon?
Having pondered this early this morning - I am reliably informed that waking early in the morning is a good indication of decrepitude - I decided with all the wisdom of having lived for 60 years, that if that is what they want to do, there’s nothing I can do about it.
I will of course act my age. When I was a teenager, I was told so many times “to grow up,” that in an impulsive decision of infantile childishness, I vowed that I would never grow up. This is one of the few decisions I have stuck to.
Age is a state of mind. While the body may protest at the years of neglect - and abuse - the mind remains that of child. The world I live in today is more wondrous than the one I lived in as a child.
My 60 years of experience enables me to see far more wonders that I ever could at age five. So I look forward to turning 70 and maybe more.
Imagine how exciting life will be then!