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“Old Age Ain’t No Place For Sissies”

Living only 10 doors along the road from my Mum & Dad and working from home means that I pop in most days. Sometimes just to chat over mid morning tea, often times after school with the girls and  lately, to help them out with things they  are now finding harder and harder to do on their own.

One morning last week I went along with my camera to capture a snippet of their daily routine.  This is a well rehearsed routine and one that I know intimately well. I know that 9 times out of 10 both front doors will always be open when I arrive – almost unheard of in these times of being hyper-secure and vigilant! But my Mum & Dad don’t worry about things like that  – they are not from this generation. My Dad has lived on this road all of his life. He is of a time when front doors were always left open and kids – us kids –  played out safely in the surrounding streets. He is secure in this knowledge of a bygone era despite the changing times.

Around 10.30 a.m  Dad will have a quick look through the local paper and then set about making breakfast and take it up on a tray for Mum. She sleeps the sleep now of a seasoned insomniac waking and dozing in 4 hourly bursts throughout the night – disturbed by whatever arthritic pain ails her these days. The bedside table, covered in tablets and creams, a good indicator of her current state of health. They will chat as Mum drinks her tea, Dad sat with feet he can no longer feel –  except as a permanent sensation of pins and needles –  outstretched and swollen at the ankle. Today’s hot topic of conversation – plans for a new housing development to replace the now defunct garage across the road. Off Dad goes to his office to bring up the plans on the council’s website. Silver-surfing…

Still hanging on the wall in the office that used to be my childhood bedroom is a picture of Dad, myself and my sister taken on holiday in the mid 1980’s at one of those photographic studios that allow you to dress up in period costume and have your picture taken then sepia tinted. A novelty back then before Photoshop! Apparently another one exists with my Mum in it but it was never allowed up on the wall because she thought the picture made her look an old Queen Victoria. I will dig it out one of these days to see if this was true! Now I’m quite sure she will only see how youthful back then she actually was.

Mid morning and the kettle is on for tea and coffee. The kitchen work surfaces littered with the familiar including the jumbo sized tin of Golden Syrup, a store cupboard staple from as far back as I can remember. The post is delivered. Watching Dad make his way to the front door to collect it I notice how he holds on to whatever will offer support and make moving around the house less hazardous. Handrails are fairly commonplace these days. And so are falls.

It’s a beautiful spring day and when it’s warm and sunny coffee will be taken out on to the front step. Like it always has. Mum and Dad will sit  in easy companionship born of a 40 year marriage, over half a lifetime together. They are not so young anymore  – old age can sometimes be a tough place to to be .

But that’s alright.

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