When I was much, much younger than now, I used to tell myself and all of my friends I never wanted to grow old (yes I was that kind of teenager). I wanted to live life at its fullest, and die, young, when still strong and beautiful. I did NOT want to grow old.
My mum Diana and I used to fight on a fairly regular basis. I’d say at the very least once a week we would explode in yelling arguments which almost inevitably ended up in tears (on my side) and in a red fuming face (hers). It was usually me screaming at her that she didn’t love me, and she… well, she was just furious.
Of course, like every healthy teenager, there were times I would get so incredibly furious at her that I’d think “I wish you’d just die and leave me alone!!!”. Fortunately at least I never said it out loud.
We were close, even then, in our own way. At least, as is often the case with emotionally crippled people in my life, I adored her and wanted her to hug me all the time, she tolerated me and sometimes seemed to actually want me around, even touch me.
We started to get closer after my first son K. was born, in 1996, and she started mellowing. Then she hated my partner (she was right) but K. was around so she wanted me around. Then my son D. was born, then Lady Diana died, then my son D. was in hospital, my mum and I were finally close for real, then she died, 4 days before my birthday. 1997 was not a brilliant year.
My mum’s birthday was last November the 17th. As she was born in 1933, she would have been 80. There are so many ladies that come into our shop. They are eighty, some of them, many of them much older. I look at them and think I wish my mum had reached 80. They sweetly say “I’m not much good anymore…” but actually they are fine, mentally, physically, they are just fine and wonderful. My mum died when she was 64, and I used to sing to her “When I’m 64” by the Beatles a lot.
I tell these ladies “No, Madam, you are just fine, just fine. We want you to stick around as much as you possibly can”.
And despite my horrendous moods and impossibilities and unpleasantnesses, I realise now that I want to be around for my kids and friends as long as I possibly can. I want to die decrepit and out of an impossibility to raise my chest to breathe anymore, that’s how tired and old I’ve got to be. Sure, I hate the stuff that happens to my body, I hate the changes, but eventually I’ll be old enough that it won’t matter. I hope I live old.