Today is the International Day of Older Persons and somehow it seems right that it coincides with the beginning of October.
I’m one of those fortunate people whose parents lived to great ages, eighty-eight and ninety-one respectively and today I feel a real sense of gratitude for having had such wise people by my side for so long.
Mother absolutely loved the writings of Doris Lessing and I think this quote from her about ageing sums up Mother’s views exactly:
The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion. (Doris Lessing)
As I went for my first swim of October today, I could feel Mother, with her lovely burnished gold hair, urging me one. She was a non-conformist, a rebel in many ways and was just as much of a water baby as I am. She never, ever changed and I hope that I can be just like her in that.
And, as for Father, well, this is the quote that sums up so much about his whole approach to life:
You know what ages a man -boredom. (Macello Rubini, La Dolce Vita)
Boredom was a word that Father prohibited all his life. He felt that there was so much to learn and appreciate in life that boredom just didn’t have a place.
Today, I thought a lot about his love of photography and nature and felt him smiling as I sought to capture the waves of pampas grass that he helped me plant in our garden in 1995.
One of Mother and Father’s greatest legacies is that they taught me that ageing is something to be embraced and not feared and that older people should never, ever be categorised but seen as their own unique selves.