It is a wonderful privilege to grow old. I am approaching my 72nd birthday. It will be in two months’ time and I am amazed when I think about all those years. I say that it is a privilege to grow old because it is something denied so many.
I find it somewhat distressing when I hear of so many who don’t reach their 70s, or 60s or even 50s. It is also so sad when people of much younger years die before even reaching middle age. While it is tragic when illness takes a young life, it is equally tragic when it is caused by an accident. This year there have been so many deaths in Australia as a result of car accidents, for example.
One of the interesting aspects of ageing that I didn’t expect concerns my mental state. For more than a decade I have observed that I don’t mentally feel my age at all. This attitude changes periodically when I try to do some hard physical work such as gardening. Then I really do feel my age! And the resulting aches and pains are constant reminders that I need to take physical activity in smaller doses.
Another interesting aspect of my personal ageing is my appearance. It seems that I have always been blessed with a youthful appearance. Over recent decades, various people have estimated my age to be ten or more years younger than my actual age. That’s a nice thing to tell me. Only yesterday while chatting with my eight-year-old granddaughter, she said that I do not look like I am nearly 72. Bless her little heart.
Teaching young children
I think that having a younger mental attitude comes from spending 35 of those years teaching young children, mostly those in the 6 to 10-year-old bracket. Now in retirement, I have regular contact with my grandchildren – ages 8 and nearly 11 – and this also helps to keep me mentally young.
I am writing this while I am staying with my son and his family. Over the last two Sunday afternoons, I have also had the privilege of taking my grandchildren to a nearby playground for a few hours. They have ridden their bikes while I drove my car; it’s too far for me to walk. Interacting with them as they play and invent games and challenges on the playground equipment is so stimulating to both the children and me.
Even when we don’t go anywhere, we often spend time in their backyard. They have an old, gnarled mulberry tree which they invent adventures while climbing. They both have very fertile imaginations. They also play other games, especially while on their much-used trampoline. Watching them play, and interacting with them during their playtimes is deeply satisfying to me. Once again I realise that these privileges afforded to grandparents is a delight denied so many people. I especially feel for those who may be estranged from ever spending time with grandchildren. Or those with no prospect of having grandchildren.
Challenges of ageing
However, old age does have its many challenges. All those aches and pains, regular doctor and specialist appointments, far too many tablets to take and a general slowing down in physical activities are the downside. I prefer to look at the many delights and privileges of growing old.
I would love to hear from my readers in the comments section about your delights and challenges of ageing.
In my saner moments, I really appreciate life’s little blessings. And a mulberry tree.
Let me explain.
Life can be tough at times and, like many people, I’ve had a few tough moments. Still, when I compare my life to that of many others, I’ve got it really easy. Sure, I may have a few serious health issues – like diabetes, for example, a condition which is a beast to manage and keep on top of. I have also had a few aches and pains in recent years, and arthritis is becoming my daily burden. Still, this goes with the territory of advancing years. I try not to regret the passing of time; reaching my age is a privilege denied many. Sadly, too many people die well before my age, and I am still going strong. For now.
We live in a peaceful country with a relatively stable government (with all its faults). When I see the television news and watch what is happening in other countries, I realise what a blessing it is to live in Australia. When I go travelling like I did recently to visit my son and family in Sydney, I experience what a blessing it is to live in this beautiful country of ours. Just being able to travel freely, unhindered, without any hassles is a great blessing. The wonderful scenery is an added bonus.
Then when I spend a few weeks living with my grandchildren, I once again realise the blessings that come from the little things in life. Like when my five-year-old grand-daughter leans over and hugs me, telling me that she loves me. Or when my eight-year-old grandson meets me at the bus-stop with a huge grin and begins relating the events of his day at school. These are precious moments and truly a great blessing.
“But what about the mulberry tree?” I hear you ask.
My son is not a gardener. Despite that, he and his family have a magnificent old mulberry tree in their back yard. Right next to the kids’ trampoline. At the moment it is loaded with fruit. Delicious fruit. Yummy, good for your tummy fruit. Sweet, dribble down your chin kind of fruit. And while I have spent many happy hours watching the children do all kinds of gymnastic tricks on the trampoline, I have been drawn magnetically towards the tree for a morning or afternoon snack. Another of life’s little blessings.
And it’s no use denying having eaten the fruit. The evidence is quite plain to see on my fingers. Talk about being literally caught red-handed. Memories of my childhood have come flooding back too. I remember climbing up my uncle’s huge mulberry tree to eat, and to collect the fruit. My cousins and I would come down from the tree, fingers, hands and arms stained and clothes in need of a good soaking. What blessings there are in such memories.
PS: for the health and nutritional benefits of mulberries click here.
Hi there, readers.
Are you still there, waiting on my every word?
Mmm… maybe not.
It has been a long time since my last post here. Goodness – was it really April the last time I wrote anything here? How time flies when life gets in the way. Life has certainly thrown a few obstacles in my way over recent months which accounts, in part, for my lack of posting here.
Way back in April we had four weeks holiday with our son and his family in Sydney. This visit was timed to coincide with the school holidays. Our grandchildren are ages 8 and 5 and we love spending quality time with them, especially during the school breaks when their parents are otherwise occupied. It’s an exhausting pleasure, but we delight in it every day we are with them. Being a grandparent can be challenging, but it is wonderful. I keep reminding myself that it is a privilege and blessing denied far too many.
Terrible storm creates firewood
On returning home to South Australia we had an extremely busy and exhausting few months. First of all, we had a terrible storm which flattened many of the trees on our property. I spent many hours cleaning up the mess left behind. A wonderful by-product of all that chain-sawing will be felt during winter next year. All that extra firewood will keep us cosy and warm.
A wet, wet, wet winter
On top of all that work, we had the wettest winter for many years. We live on a rural property of five acres. The grass kept growing and growing and growing. We live in a moderate bushfire risk region, so I am conscious of keeping the grass under control.That means many hours of brush cutting and mowing on the ride-on mower. We used to have some four-legged “lawn mowers”, but sheep need constant care. I hated seeing them get fly-blown, and a dog attack some years ago left me devastated.
Sorting, packing and cleaning
In the midst of all that, we had five trips to Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. Our daughter has been teaching in the local high school there for the last 15 years. We loved visiting her during that time. On this occasion, however, it was to pack up all of her belongings ready for a removalist to take everything away. This took many days of sorting, packing, and cleaning. All of her things are now in storage in a shipping container in our paddock. It will stay there for the next two years while she teaches overseas. She is teaching at an international school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. You can read about her adventures on Rose’s Travel Jottings, though she hasn’t updated the site for a while.
So, as you can imagine, writing has taken a back seat over the last six months. I have still managed to write regularly in my personal journal and I have certainly kept up with my reading and planning. Over coming months I hope to announce some wonderful news about my writing. I also plan to add many more posts here on this site, and on my other blog, Trevor’s Birding.
In the meantime – good reading and productive writing.
PS: I am also planning on publishing a regular monthly newsletter. This will contain news and articles not included on this blog. To subscribe, go to below the comments section at the bottom of each post. I’d love to see you subscribe.
Life can get very hectic at times.
That is true for many people, me included. Although I retired from classroom teaching just over 12 years ago, I seem to be as busy as ever. Not only am I trying to establish myself as a blogger and writer, I also have many community responsibilities, especially within the life of the church we attend. Still, it is a lifestyle I have deliberately chosen, so I shouldn’t complain.
At least once, preferably twice annually, my wife and I plan a few weeks into our busy schedule to travel to Sydney to visit and stay with family. Our son and his family live there and we love spending time with our grandchildren, ages 7 and 4. It is during these times that I set aside extra time to spend with family, especially the children. While I am totally dedicated to my life as a writer, I realise that the times spent with the grandchildren are some of the sweetest moments in one’s life.
Both of our grandchildren are at the stage in life where they love cuddles with both sets of grandparents. We try to ‘visit’ frequently via Skype and through telephone calls, but you cannot give a hug or cuddle over the phone or the internet. That is why they love having us visit for an extended time. This time it will be a day short of four weeks. That’s great.
And only a few nights ago I was sitting on the couch watching a video with the children. Both were snuggled up to me. The youngest held my fingers in her little hand. The oldest was leaning against my shoulder. ‘How wonderful is this,’ I thought, smiling inwardly. Sweet moments like this do not come along every day, especially when we live over 1300km away – two days’ hard drive.
While both of our grandchildren struggle from time to time with life’s issues, sometimes resulting in emotional melt-downs, these are far outweighed by the precious moments in each day. These are the sweet moments that should be a part of every child’s life. These are the delightful times of pure joy which should be in everyone’s lives. These are the times when a shared experience, a moment of laughter, a sharing of a song or the relating of the day’s highlight which can bring sheer contentment.
Treasure those moments
These special moments must be shared and treasured.
They can sometimes be so fleeting, so transient.
They are moments denied so many people in this world of ours.
Try to look for life’s wonderful blessings, those precious and sweet moments in life.
On Friday last while waiting for my wife to come from her appointment I went for a cup of cappuccino in the hospital coffee shop. I lined up to be served and the lady behind me suddenly asked if I’d like a free cup of coffee. It’s not something that happens every day so it took me a little by surprise. She explained that she had plenty of vouchers for free coffees and was pleased to share one with me. I agreed, and then struck up a short conversation with her while waiting for our coffees to be ready.
This random act of kindness got me to thinking; what if everyone set out every day to display one act of random kindness to someone else, preferably a stranger? What a better world this would be?
How about it?
Here’s the challenge: try doing just one act of kindness to someone else every day. Not only will those people be especially blessed by your action, you, too will be blessed in amazing ways by making this world just that little bit better, kinder and friendlier.