Tuesday 12 December 2017

Lay of the Land: The amazing grace of some growing older

It's springtime again, and lambs are frolicking.
It's springtime again, and lambs are frolicking.

It's springtime, and lambs are once more frolicking in the fields. Yet those with scores of springs under their belts sometimes have just as much of it in their step.

Don't get me wrong - I've met grumpy old gits. But I've encountered plenty of grumpy young ones too. However, that expression about being old before your time begs the question: when exactly are you supposed to get old?

Of course, you get aches and pains as you advance through life. But perhaps that's the rent you pay for going ever further over the hill. However, age is supposed to bring wisdom. Which surely comes from a mind that continues to broaden and blossom - not one that withers and decays.

For if age is just a number, as many believe, it certainly isn't 999. Because surely being older shouldn't be seen as a state of emergency.

Seniors can seem scarce on the ground in city centres, where nubile young things are the norm. Sometimes it can make you feel like you're living in Logan's Run. Anyone aged over 40 might remember that 1970s film - ironically, given its premise that your time was up once you hit 30.

Fortunately, older folk are both vibrant and visible in the country. Maybe Oscar Wilde was right - that youth is wasted on the young - but few senior citizens around this rural town are squandering their remaining years.

I would need the entire Sunday Independent to do justice to them all. But take a few examples. Like Ben, who sadly was widowed last year but still runs a bustling B&B and is always impeccably turned out. He could teach teenagers in tacky tracksuits a thing or two about style.

Another widow, Esther, bears the surname of the ancient watchtower close to her home on the river. Her tales from the past also provide perspective on the present. For Esther wasn't born yesterday and isn't fooled by passing fads and glitzy wrappings when it comes to healthy eating.

Or marvel at Melvyn, in his 80s but still making and marketing his honey, as well as caring for his wheelchair-bound wife and ailing sister. All while nonchalantly whittling cute candles out of beeswax. Easy to wax lyrical about this senior's skills.

As for Albert, who is still agile as an acrobat, I will forever be indebted to this older gentleman for referring to me as a "young girl" when I'm not remotely. It seems beauty is also in the eye of the older.

But I couldn't write about amazingly graceful ageing without mentioning the wondrous Mrs Walsh. I was admiring her dress one day, its delicate pattern of green flowers on a white background tapering to mid-calf, when she dropped a bombshell. For someone had asked her if she didn't think she was a bit old to be wearing it?

Sounds like a green-eyed monster of a greenhorn to me!

Sunday Independent

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