What age were you in 1967 when the Beatles released When I’m Sixty-four? (Go on, have a little sing along – no judgment here!) Do you remember thinking that 64 seemed so far away, and unbelievably old, that it was hard to even imagine what life at that age may hold? I recall my Mother not finding the song as funny as my brother and I did, and making repeated comments of the “Old age will eventually come to you and then we’ll see how funny you find it” vein, which made us laugh all the more, seeing such a concept was inconceivable!
Fast forward 40-something years and here we are; closer to 64 than we may care to admit. If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth having a pro-active think about the “Will you still need me, Will you still feed me?” questions. Or are you in denial?
If so, go spend some time in the Oncology waiting room of your nearest hospital. Even ten minutes there will give you (i) a sobering dose of reality and (ii) insight into the enduring nature of relationships as we age. You’ll see them all: ageing parent with adult child, couples, sisters, friends and people on their own. Whether they are waiting for appointments, blood tests, information, infusions or treatments, amongst the murmured conversations you’ll notice tangible evidence of support, care and togetherness everywhere you look. Love is demonstrated in the thoughtful gestures, patience, comfort (offered, accepted and returned), pragmatism, tenderness and flashes of humour.
While I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, it certainly is a salutary lesson for those amongst us who may wonder, from time to time, whether our relationships have enough of what it takes, to go the distance. Could hanging out in such a location become a new form of compulsory couples counselling, perhaps? 😉
Seriously though, I believe that none of us have to get through our ageing years alone. I also believe that none of us want to face illness or disease alone, especially as we age and find that simply expecting to bounce back does not make for a particularly effective recovery strategy!
It starts with you. Have a think about who your support crew will be when you are 64 or whatever age that song translates to now. Whether or not you want or need to, will you be able to rely on your parents, specific friends, children, partners, next-door neighbours or extended family members?
Then look yourself in the metaphorical mirror and ask if they could rely on you to do the same for them. Really? Are you sure? Do they know that?
If you need to do any planning, hold more honest conversations, mend some fences, be a more appreciative/kind/tolerant friend or partner, this is the time to start building better relationships – right now and in the intervening years. Reciprocity still rocks, just as much as The Beatles did, when you’re 64!
What strategies do you and/or your Beloveds have to handle illness and injury?