The main topics of conversation on my 50+ grapevine at the moment are retirement and downsizing. Of course, the two are interlinked and though there are a few lucky people who love their jobs and will carry on working until they drop dead, the main sentiment seems to be to get out whilst you still can. Most of our circle are tired of working for other people and nervous about Snipers’ Alley – that dangerous period between now and seventy, roughly, when people start falling off the perch (according to my brother-in-law and an old GP friend of mine who has, unsurprisingly, a brutally honest view of life).
I was born anxious but I am surprisingly at peace with the idea of death
It is impossible to avoid the symptoms of ageing and mortality when pesky little reminders such as higher cholesterol, blood pressure, and increasing joint pain present themselves. Not to mention the rather scary melanoma that I was lucky enough to catch in time – a wake-up call that was, frankly, unnecessary.
Truth be told, the number of times I now frequent the doctor is enough to remind me of the steady decline of my body and the importance of our health insurance plan and up-to-date wills.
The thing about the ageing process is that one minute you’re cruising along feeling relatively young for your years and the next you are using hand cream. But if I’m honest, despite my lifelong battle with health anxiety, death scares me somewhat less than the journey there and the “not knowing” exactly how and when my finale will play out.
It doesn’t help that my body is self-combusting without my consent – and trust me, there’s no bigger scare than finding yourself in the waiting room of a cancer surgeon. And yet, albeit the large hole in my arm was an unwelcome warning of my advancing years, the slow atrophy of my vagina has superseded it.
It turns out – and this is a common problem for women my age – that pushing out a baby with the head size of a watermelon isn’t great for your birth canal and mine has been slowly giving up on life since the over-eager arrival of my son, twenty-five years ago. Though HRT is making a valiant effort at revitalising it alongside some very tedious pelvic floor exercises I do daily, I feel like my whole body is self-destructing.
HRT is my new bestie since my body decided to self-destruct without my consent
Understandably, the angst, cost and annoyance that this increasing number of visits to the doctor is causing (my husband), have forced me to consider which bucket list experiences I should prioritise in the time I have left. Because although the statistics suggest we should live to eighty-six, I suspect that the reality of reaching that milestone isn’t all that if the wailing and awkward conversations about pad changes and bowel movements I overheard during my latest trip to the ER were indicative.
What, after all, are anyone’s real chances of climbing a mountain or even the steps of the Amalfi Coast at eighty-six? Yet another reason to pursue my travel goals before my hips give out as well – assuming, of course, that the wine doesn’t destroy the brain matter I need to book a holiday before I get to it.
All I want are a few more “special” summers
I need a minimum of another decade for my kids to find their soul mates, for though I have accepted the unlikeliness of hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet in either of their homes – unless they belong to small dogs – I would love to meet their future partners before I pop off.
I want a few more “special” summers to dance again, and feel the cool splash of the ocean on my face, the sand between my toes. I’d like to wear another ball dress – ideally in a size 12 – and go to a few more weddings before the funerals start. But in the unfortunate event that I do lose my marbles, I hope my children stick to their promise to pluck out the coarse hairs on my chin and not leave me to rot in some terrible home in Woop Woop. I hope too that my husband sticks to his threat and becomes a fully-fledged hermit on the outskirts of the type of ghastly regional town he keeps trying to convince me to move to, and if he does take a younger model, I wish her a high tolerance for semi-clean bench tops.
What’s on your bucket list?
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