Reading the Hook, about an elderly man in his hotel, reminded me that yesterday again I had the privilege of sitting and listening to a man who is now 94, still fully alert and looking after himself. He even still drives; a little slowly but very carefully and alert from home to the mall, the doctor, and to the few places he visits.
He and his now deceased sisters lived (and he still lives) in the house they were raised in. He has had spells of living in other countries for a while, but always returned to the family home.
He was an architect, and has some pretty frigid comments on some modern architecture. He has known Johannesburg, my home city, all his life, loved it too as I do. His conversation is liberally peppered with anecdotes, appropriate to where the conversation meanders. He kept several of us entranced and laughing for a few hours.
How sad to outlive all ones contemporaries. His last surviving sister died last year. Now he only has us ‘youngsters’ around.
Someone who had never met him before was asking how he felt about watching modern technology. She had him a little baffled as he does not indulge much.
He had flown on Concorde, such a miracle aeroplane, but as he said, somewhat cramped and noisy. Remembering when it was developed, in the 1960’s it was a miracle back then.
But he knows little of cellphones, smartphones, PC’s, Laptop’s, the internet etc, This landed him in some difficulties as he and a friend met at the theatre for their annual trip to the pantomime, only to discover it wasn’t on. The schedule is now only online, and he had no idea how to look for it.
Oh to have the residual income to live so long, healthy (though he does say he used to shop at 50 miles per hour and is now reduced to 5 miles per hour) and to have all ones faculties intact. Yet I suspect there is a loneliness in having few or no contemporaries. No one able to just pop in for afternoon tea or a sundowner, to look out across the suburbs as they have sprawled and taken over the landscape. (Fortunately though Johannesburg is a city of trees, so the outlook is wonderful greens and in spring liberally sprinkled with the hazy purple of the jacaranda trees).
Talking to my cousin who is 9 years older than I am, about her mother (getting to the 90 mark now) who literally does not know where or even who she is any more makes me fear that my destiny would not be alert as is his, but murky and scary. No, maybe I still want to go as my mother and grandmother did – quickly one day when you think you are still ok.
What a lot of serious stuff to start the year. Wake up Sidey! – before then there is (hopefully) much more to life to live and enjoy.