I’m juggling two parallel concepts today (I imagine an extended hospital stay exerts kind of a philosophical tug on the old heartstrings — at least it did on mine). I remember so well, some 35 years ago, when suddenly we entered the middle lane of life’s motorway: bringing up our young family while caring for, and then worrying about ageing, poorly and vulnerable parents at the same time. We thought of ourselves as being in the middle of the middle years, with responsibilities extending both ways as far as the mind could fathom.
And now, suddenly again, we’re edging into the slow lane, as we embark on the so-called ‘last ages of man/woman’ and we can see our children coming up fast in the middle lane looking out for their family and careers while worrying about their ageing, poorly and increasingly vulnerable parents: us!
What a surprise! Just before my operation, during the pre-op consultation procedures, I was thinking about what I perceived to be some of the risks; primarily, I assumed, I might emerge after 10 hours on the operating table in a persistent vegetative state (it must be something to do with our generation’s overarching fear of prolonged surgery). The young registrar snorted when I began to ask questions of ‘DNR’ — ‘But you’re young, vibrant, of course we’ll bring you through this!’ And our son’s scathing macabre humour: ‘Nah, if your heart should stop beating on the table Dad, we’ll just tell the surgeon to throw up their hands and say, well, that was his innings, let him go now.’ Okay, after what turned out to be a 12 hour stint on the table, I understand more now than I did then about the processes of surgical intervention, even prolonged intervention, and yes, I’d rather for the first approximation anyway if they did try to rescue me should I take a turn for the worse while unconscious.
Now, emerging from under the shadow of the knife, and trying to get better every day, you know the way life is, given the best possible opportunity for good health, we’re planning already to continue in the vibrant lifestyle we’ve so enjoyed, but certainly taking it all much less for granted. In the offing are extended motorhome holidays in Harry Hymer, personal development courses (language lessons, for example, creative writing and knitting techniques workshops, maybe some photography to pass on to the grands). Hell or high water, man, there’s still six months+ of the diary yet to finish, after all! You can’t take the excitement out of the old folks just like that!
On the other hand, we’re clearly not meant to be hogging the middle lane anymore either. But the more pressures we can remove from our beloved children, just beginning to overtake us in those middle years, the better. Still, it’s so nice to be beloved back, to be worried about, to be loved, even as we loved both ways in our middle prime.