Posts Tagged ‘senior’

A spectacular Fall,

October 5, 2021

IMG_2318 bentley

Bentley

It has often be stated by doctors that hospitalizations of the elderly are for a large part due to falling. Well, this morning I seemed to have at a minimum reached the age of falling down. So far I never considered to even see myself as aged. True, I have often walked past an institution that is as British/Australian as an outdoor windblown dunny in the back-lane. And it is called The Senior Citizen’s Association or sometimes Club. It is so much senior that I always quickly walk past. The curtains are drawn solid and they are so grimly uninviting that one really would have reached the age of having lost the will to go on. I sometimes got a glean to the inside when someone dares to open a door and one sees little vases of plastic flowers akimbo laminex tables with splayed legs, so aged and forlorn looking that they are begging to be put out of their misery and strangled on the spot.

This morning was like most mornings. My newly acquired dog Bentley let it be known it was walk time after first tapping me on the bed to tell me to get up and not linger. I got dressed had the obligatory banana and cup of tea with milk and two sugars. He gets restless and this reaches its peak when I put my scarf, coat and hat on. When I get his lead he neatly sits down and allows me to slide it over his head but then bolts to the door, eager beaver that he is. We both bolt outside and at first will pull for hell and leather. He is besides himself and such a joy to behold. We strode out of our complex and started our walk which with him is at first the sniffing of both left and right nature grass strips of the latest dogs previous passing. Bentley has a kind of way that he lingers which makes me think he reads the latest happenings, a newspaper or editorial, left against trees, poles and grasses. He then replies and articulate that by lifting either left leg or right, sometimes both but not simultaneously. That would be impossible.

Anyway, is was after about a hundred meters or so of endless sniffing that some interesting smell or message pulled Bentley across from me while my attention was further ahead and not down to the terra firma at my feet. Bentley’s crossed my legs and his lead tangled my legs. I fell backwards unceremoniously without any further ado. Totally involuntary and without restraint. I haven’t fallen so spectacular since the 5th of Nov 1963 . (I remember it well, I was in Tirolerland, Austria, when skiing and meeting my future wife Helvi who wiped my bloodied face)

IMG_0900 knitting

I fell, not on snow this time but on an unforgiving concrete pathway. I remember cars coming to a halt but I was furious with Bentley, you f..c..ng rotten dog, who after all that love, treats and patting, tried to bolt. Quick as a flash I put my left leg forward and held it down on his leash. He knew the game was up and came to me, all apologetic and contrite. I managed to get up and held on to the leash and felt alright. No broken bones or bloodied face. A man across the road asked if I was alright which was nice of him. I said that I felt alright and continued my walk.

I am convinced that my time for the Senior Citizen’s club hasn’t arrived yet. We shall see!

French Farmhouse checking.

February 6, 2020

The ladder to the loft.

IMG_0421 French farm house checking

The ladder to the loft.

 

I can still see the ladders leading to the lofts of old farm-houses in the South of France. Anyone who has ever been to France might know and acknowledge the lure of old farmhouses. They were being advertised over the world and in the eighties and nineties, it wasn’t unusual to meet people that in conversation around the fondue set, would casually drop, ‘we have bought an old French farmhouse, and we are going there each year now for our holiday’. ‘We are getting a bit tired of holidays at Coffs’s Harbour and its Big Banana!

Old farmhouses with lofts are littered over the whole of the French country like confetti at nuptials. Mouth-watering ancient villages usually have a crop of those old places on cobble stoned lane ways where horses and cladded hooves have carved through the centuries little gutters which during gentle rains directs its water to a bubbling stream. The picture perfect would be the local church.

Of course, those old farmhouses were often riddled with woodworm hence the first task was to inspect the lofts and attics. In modern Australia most houses have internal man-holes to clamber through into the roof space. French farm- houses had access through a little door outside at the very top just below the pitch of the roof.

After several visits to France and numerous clambering on top of ladders inspecting lofts we were so badly infected with French farm-houses we could only think of buying one. Talk about getting a bean in the bonnet!

You know when life has reached a stage when a total change might just give a much needed and restorative impetus to keep plodding and have a go at a fresh start, try something a bit different. There is a term for it that lingers forever once you have absorbed the meaning. Is it called ‘mid-life crisis? The year of the sixty fifth birthday would soon be nigh and with that ‘The Senior Card’ with getting old, so often the banana skin on the doorsteps of the retired.

Of course, change involves risks but so does not doing anything. The risk of middle age ennui and bitter regrets of things we wanted to do but never did, nor tried. What can be more exciting than trying to live in another country? We could not think of a more glorious way of warding off retirement than making this change and move to France and learn the Franco lingo as an extra bonus.

We had already tasted the magic of rural France, the poetry of the potted geraniums on ancient window sills, the endless lanes of plane trees winding around the grape vines of the coming vintage, and the village squares all alive with men playing boule with women around the water-wells gossiping about the newly born or the recently departed.

France is contagious like that, and as mentioned previously, we knew a few couples already who had taken this brave step, and had escaped the dreariness of routine with those predictable daily habits. Marital whiplash with boring squabbles are often relieved by making changes well before the onset of mindless routine with silent evenings before the TV with morbid partner and Dr Phil.

 

(A work in progress.)

 

After we decided to go to France, my wife suggested to stay calm and not rush hastily into something we might regret. She reminded me that I often questioned the wisdom of my parents migrating to Australia from The Netherlands back in 1956. “Do you really want to give up on all your friends and acquaintances made through the years? We are living in quite a lively inner city suburb, within walking distance of so many amenities, shops, libraries, a stately Court-House and with a handy police station for extra measure”. We were living in cosmopolitan Balmain at the time of the birth of footpath dining and cafes.

All that was true. I tended to go on a bit about our first few years after arrival In Australia during the mid-fifties. We, after a short stint in the Nissan-hut Migrant camp, which was a horror on its own after the joy of a five week cruise on the boat between Holland and Sydney ended up living in an outer suburb of Sydney.,

We had moved to Balmain when the apartment in Pott’s Point became too small with the birth of our two daughters, Susanna in 1968 and Natasha in 1970.

We already tried moving back to Europe during a stint as an artist between 1973-1976, but after a while the lure of my large family of brothers and sister with their spouses and children, the Australian bush, and above all, to have the freedom of having rusted corrugated iron roofs and weedy footpaths, the chaotic or total lack of town planning attracted me back a again. Those Fatal Shores by Robert Hughes, spring to mind.

To be followed!

 

 

The Train to Rookwood

February 9, 2011

The Train to RookwoodPosted on February 10, 2011 by gerard oosterman

The Train to Rookwood. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/37682.html

The Kerry O’Brian’s interview with Woody Allen last Wednesday night on the 7.30 report would have to be one of ABC’s best coups. Woody’s interviews are collector’s items as he is notoriously shy of publicity. His answers to Kerry’s questions were quirky, witty and to the point. His best was towards the end when he seemed to reject the notion that getting older equates to the getting of wisdom. On the questions of why we are here and what the point of life was, he remains modestly unsure. Whatever he gained through all the years, he would gladly have exchanged it all for; quote, ’wiping 35 years of the calendar’, adding with a distant look, that he would probably make the same mistakes all over again.

This might have been a bit tongue in cheek but made me think how much profit there is in getting older. Surely, there has to be some reward for having survived all the misery and sadness of having lived through so much uncertainty and the many difficulties. It is not unreasonable to assume that one becomes better with the passing of years at coping with some of the misfortunes and events that could, with foresight, have been avoided, and that the benefits of getting older begets us the wisdom to not repeat errors and mistakes into the future.

We plod on with expectations of improvements, and hope that with age, we will undoubtedly get rewards for the courage, determination and resilience in having cobbled something out of our lives. When enough time has lapsed we can have the luxury of reflectively taking stock and do the accounts, and hopefully find out, that, by and large, we stayed the course and that we had achieved the things that we sat out to reach with the positives having outweighed the negatives.

When young, and bursting with enthusiasm and raging hormones, we recklessly hurled ourselves into the future, taking and accepting risks, relationships and partners all at once and with wild abandonment. We brazenly and bravely fought to make our mark. Nothing would stop us and we blindly believed that hard work and enterprise would ensure a stake in prosperity and much goodness, not just for ourselves, but also for our offspring and others. Deposits would be made on house and car, schools for kids would be booked years in advance, and inexorably with the passing of a few more years, we would reap rewards by climbing into even better and bigger houses with more bathrooms now and larger cars with DVD player hooked from the back seat for kids to watch Shrek when driving somewhere and anywhere.

Did we also not take in our stride the misfortune of family life gone off at a tangent or even astray, with lives, like forgotten letters in the drawer, damaged or lost through accident, illness and inherited gene, or the scourge of modern age, addiction to evil substance?

With the advance of years beyond the half century, we fully expect that wisdom and experience will guide us to calmer waters and ease us into a nice and comfortable latter part or even, with the luck of robust health and benefit of not smoking anymore, to old age. We paid our dues and mortgage man is now finally sated. The credit card we will keep on sailing with, just in case of the unforseen, the failing of car or broken and worn washer-dryer, a trip to Venice or even Chile’s Santiago.

Having steamed through that post mortgage, and for some, post marriage years, we have now travelled to the beginning of an advanced age with the cheerful Newsletter and Senior’s card in the post. The Senior Newsletter has holidays for the advanced seniors at Noosa and a plethora of advertisements for those handy battery operated electric little carriages with shopping tray at the back. Are we to zoom in and out of shopping  centres soon, using ramps up and down? With the sheer numbers appearing on footpaths now, it won’t be long and there could be outbreaks of motorized wheelchair-rage, could it not?

I suppose there has been a major drop-out of readers now. Who wants to get ahead that far?

Please, don’t get impatient. Just hang in here for another eighty or so of words, when at age eighty, we are almost there, indeed, we have arrived. How did we fare? It is time now to have one more go at something, perhaps golf for the very fit or, dread the thought, bowling with cricket gear all in pristine white and with men wearing neatly pressed pantaloons but suspiciously bulging when bending to bowl!

Once more, we listen hear and hum the forlorn ‘Le piano du Pauvre’.

                                                                   I am nothing

                                                                      I exist 

                                                         Only in the generous eyes of others

Somehow, with The Train to Rookwood now at station, we have so far stumbled, bumbled but stoutly plotted on. Time has finally arrived, with casket to carriage, no time for regret.

                                                                      Death

                                                                   Inaccessible

                                                                  Even to memory

                                                               Appears and goes away

                                                                   With a scull

                                                                    For a nod

The Train to Rookwood.

Poems by friend Bernard Durrant.