As some of you know, Alan and I took a sabbatical a few years back, to move down to Windsor and look after my mother. My Dad had died the summer before and Mum, battling MS and encroaching old age, needed help to be able to stay in her home.
I learned a lot in the time we were with her. And I will always be grateful for the opportunity that we had. Both because of everything we learned and because it gave us a chance to hang out and spend some time with Mum.
And now, because I was able to see old age up close and in person, I'm not afraid to grow old myself. It doesn't scare me to contemplate my own eventual dwindling down. For that, I can be grateful to Mum and the time we spent with her, both at home and, eventually, in the nursing home that she needed to move into after she broke her hip (I'll tell that story in "F").
But watching her and the other oldies around her, means I'm not just going to slide into old age with no thought. No. I've got a plan. One that, hopefully will keep me healthy and engaged.
Right up until I die in a spectacular sky-diving accident on my 97th birthday (No, I have it all planned out - a rogue bolt of lightning will take care of everything. And my ashes will scatter gently over the countryside.).
I've studied this carefully and here's how it looks to me. There are people who remain healthy and vibrant well into old age. People who don't spend all their time going to doctor's appointments, trying to track down phantom symptoms caused by their own bad habits. I don't have to end up bored, lonely, needy and miserable. I can learn from the older people I know and have known who are aging well.
And I think it starts with the habits I create now. Plenty of exercise, plenty of rest. Lots of high-fibre food (aging bowels can be a nightmare. The more fibre I eat now, the younger those puppies will stay). Reading voraciously, over a wide variety of interests. Constantly meeting new people and making new friends. Keeping the bitching and whining to a minimum.
And even if all of that does no real good in the long run, even if I end up frail and sick far before I'm ready to, a martyr to my bowels, I'll know I did my best. And that I had a great middle age.