Whoo-ee! I have discovered a whole new world, the world of the aged. I know I have been 91 for almost a year but somehow or other I never realized my position in life has changed. Suddenly, I have realized I am now an object to be carefully guarded, helped in every way possible, and even cherished, like I was some kind of valuable marble statue.
Indeed, I have discovered there are whole organizations whose very objective is my comfort. I had a visit the other day from one of these, a beautiful young woman called Maude, from France, an origin that pre-disposes me --- a man who has been a francophile ever since 1952,when, on holiday from ration-book England, I first set eyes on the charcuteries and patisseries in even their small villages --- very much in her favour. Here was a people, their shops showed me, who like to eat well. And pretty soon, as I became accustomed to their language, I loved the sound of it. Any mastery in its use has escaped me, in spite of the ceaseless hours I have spent in its study since my arrival in Canada in 1954, so all I can do is listen to Maude and wish I could understand her in her own language. Of course, that doesn't really matter, because she speaks my language with a delightful French accent. So all this is to announce that I am hopelessly enamoured of her, after only one visit, and that I find it hard to believe that any city or provincial administration, or whichever agency may be responsible, could ever have been thoughtful enough to engage so wonderful a person as Maude, and assigned her to make sure I am always in good spirits.
But it is not only Maude who has enlivened my life. Since I have been forced to use a walker I find people everywhere are opening and holding doors for me, and on arrival at the coffee shop, they are moving chairs to make way for me, and scurrying around to get me my favourite newspaper, and otherwise making me feel I am still an object worthy of small attentions.
Not only that, my youngest son, Thom, who has recently very justifiably taken to denouncing me for some of the things I have done in the past, has put all that aside and in a full, and very much appreciated act of devotion, has taken to aiding me in every possible way, accompanying me on my medical visits, wheeling me on wheelchair through the endless corridors of the hospital, listening, and remembering evey detail of what the doctor says, arranging and collecting my medications, and even cooking me some evening meals at the end of his long day at work on his own affairs. I am struck by how much worse would be my condition without his ceaseless acts of devotion. And how much I owe him for his kindness to me.
He even sits through the endless hours of waiting for appointments: it is the mark of a successful physician, apparently, that he has to keep his patients waiting for hours after the time set for his appointment, a phenomenon that Thom --- less given to outbursts of impatience than am I --- explained to me arises from the fact that every patient poses a different problem, takes an unforeseeable amount of time, and thus causes the doctor’s timetable to be an inadequate guide to his or her day’s work.
Nowadays the thing I am most marvelling at is the vigour of the young, who zip past me on their strong legs --- so beautiful those strong young legs, I think, as they disappear into rhe distance before me – every one of them, it seems, completely unaware of, or at least taking completely for granted their youthful vigour and what a glorious asset it is to them, and one that will unfortunately not last, so that they must take full advantage of it while they have got it. I remarked the other day to a strange young woman in the elevator how lucky she was. She laughed and asked why. :”Because you can walk,” I said . She looked at me with my walker, smiled at me, and said, as if taken by surprise, “Oh yes, I must take advantage of it while I have got it.”
So at the moment it is my hip that is bothering me. My eyes, too, of course. It has been a hell of a job to write this, even slowly. I find it difficult to place the sensor exactly where it is needed if I am to correct the many typos I make in writing these days. For someone who has rattled off millions of words over the years on my favoured little Italian typewriters, which were an inch or two bigger than this keyboard, this is a particular irritation.
Well, I’ll leave it there for the moment. I hope I can take up next time some subject of general interest about which I can at least express some opinion worthy of the name.
Meantime, in the words of the immortal archie (or was that mehetabel?) “wot the hell, wot the hell, toujours gai, toujours gai.”