Fundamental learning starts at a very young age. One thing
that was repeatedly told me by my mother was the importance of good physical
health. Although she lived into her early 80s, she did not have the best of
health, particularly during the last decade of her life when the long-term
effects of a gallbladder operation restricted what she could do physically. She
also suffered with poor eyesight on account of tunnel vision, and she had high
blood pressure. These debilitating physical disabilities affected the quality
of her life.
By taking in what my mother had taught me in my youth, and
by observing the decline of her health in old age, the importance of good
health was graphically made clear to me. I thank her for advising me not to
smoke and not to become partial to alcohol.
When I was a kid, drinking and smoking were common social
pastimes, as indeed they are today. Fortunately, in recent times the number of
smokers has dramatically decreased, and according to government statistics,
there has been a sharp fall in binge drinking, with beneficial effects, not
only for those who have reduced their consumption of alcohol, but for the community
at large. Police report that there has been less violence on our streets, and
accident and emergency centres have had fewer injuries to treat.
Now, in my eightieth year, I accept that I am less strong
than I was only a year or so ago, and as a result I cannot do things I did then.
On the other hand I am grateful for the health I have.
Somehow, we have the mistaken notion that we will live for
ever, and we kid ourselves we are much younger than we are. That is fine, but
eventually reality affirms the truth that old age slows us down, reduces our
powers of healing, and adversely affects our memory, particularly short-term
memory. An increasing number of older folk are being diagnosed as having dementia.
Having taken hold of these truths we know the time for
adjustments to the way we live has arrived. Acceptance of this knowledge is the
hardest part, and making the necessary changes is not easy. We are reluctant to
forgo habitual activities, and we have no desire to become increasingly
dependent upon others, nor do we wish to burden them.
Why am I dwelling on these things? - Because I have come to
that point where I have taken hold of the truth. I recognize my weaknesses and
frailty, and I know that I must adjust to a new lifestyle. I’m hopeful this
will be positive experience.