Monday, 1 December 2008


When I was younger I used to think that anyone over the age of 25 was as old as the hills, shouldn't dance at parties, wear short skirts, or kiss in public.
Well, I reached 25, and shifted the goal posts. 35 was now the 'past it' post.
Got to 35. Still in short skirts, kissing in public, dancing at parties. Right, I thought, 45 is really the time to grow up. Wear twin sets and tweed.
Got to 45. Still in short skirts, albeit, slightly longer, kissing in public, dancing at parties. Giggle at fart jokes.
Now what?? I see that at whatever age I reach, I'll change the goal post, alter the sell-by-date, and carry on regardless.
My mother is 78. She hasn't a twin set to her name and has never worn tweed. She does this totally hysterical 'disco' dance, taking the mickey out of herself, which makes me wet my pants I laugh so hard.
She has a friend who rings her up pretending to be a cross librarian. Mum will get her back by pretending to be the local butcher. 'Mrs Matthews?' she'll shout in local accent. 'Where d'yer want yoor cow?'
Mum was a Samaritan until recently when she felt that the night duty was getting a bit much for her. This was not because of the night duty itself, but the fact that it ends at about 7am and it was a rather nasty walk alone in a rough part of town to get to her car.
Not long ago Mum had large piece of cancer cut out of her leg. She had to sit for a week with leg up. It hurt like bloody hell because it was on the bony part of the shin. This is a regular occurence. Mum just puts up with it and is thrilled when she doesn't have to go to doctor.
'Heaven today. No doctor, no visitors. Just us.'
She and my father have people queuing up to visit them. She literally has to say to people, 'I'm so sorry, we can't have you this week as we're full' as if she was a B&B.
This past week they have been fishing on the Tweed. (the nearest to tweed my mother will go).
Let me remind you that my mother is 78. My father is 81. They are staying in a 'hut' (its lovely, darling, and has the dearest gas fire) with two others.
Each day they go to the river and fish All Day. It is Freezing. They come back, make supper, eat it, and go to bed. And do the same thing the next day. And the next. And the next.
Well, my mother caught a salmon. It was Eleven Pounds. That is the weight of a Huge Newborn Baby. She heaved this thing out of the river. For 40 minutes. Landed it. Then carefully put it back in again.
I just love my parents. They make me look forward to growing up. At their age they could just as well be taking it easy, arm chairs and warm fire. The odd foray to the shop. Sudoku. Little walks. Grandchildren sitting at their feet.
But no, they are heaving monstrous sized fish out of icy rivers and sleeping in the equivalent of a garden shed.
Their next holiday is skiing. Austria. They have been every year since the early fifties. My dad puts his skis on, points them downhill, and bloody goes for it. I have a job keeping up.
My mother dons woollies and winter boots and does what she feels like for a week. After 40 years of not really enjoying skiing, she has stopped doing it. And just has the nice part of the holiday. Hot chocolates, and steamy cups of gluewein.
Brilliant, eh.
You'll be glad to hear that they gave up sailing in the Outer Hebrides a couple of years ago. Dad felt that it might be a good idea. They did a little trip to St Kilda, and that was that.
So now its just the fishing and the skiing. Oh, and the odd walking holiday. In the Lakes. Balanced with home, cosy fires and sudoku. And 18 grandchildren.
I'm going to be like that. I hope.
Because, as George Burns said,
'You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.'
Too bloody right.


Kitty said...

Hear hear! I have to virtually make an appointment to see my mother. She's so busy since she retired, I can't keep up with her.


Catharine Withenay said...

Having inspirational parents is such a great thing! Mine are totally different to yours, but nevertheless people I wish to live up to.

And look at that - ending a sentence with a preposition: my father would be horrified!

Off to go and learn English...

East Anglian Troy said...

You certainly have amazing parents - I'm sure they are great role models and inspiration to their grandchildren.
I wouldn't like to go fishing all day in this weather but I'm sure their outdoor lifestyles are a big factor in their preserving youthfulness at 78 and 81.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

What fantastic parents, LWM! I love hearing stories like that...absolutely wonderful. I must have said this before but one of our best friends is still diving at 70! I'm just so amazed I will tell anybody about her any time. I love her to bits...

Mud in the City said...

Inspiring. Age is often a sense of mind and I have great respect for the people who just say "why not?"

My Granny did a solo trip across Namibia at 89 'to have a look darling' and only gave up sailing after she fell off my great aunt's boat, went under it, and came up bobbing about in the river 100yards down still clutching her handbag!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Fishing on the Tweed? Which part - I live not far away!

Your parents sound like a complete hoot. I sometimes wish my mum would get younger, instead of older. If you know what I mean.

CJ xx

claires inner world said...

Totally agree! My parents are getting younger and sillier every day. I think it's something to do with being grandparents. They unite with my kids against the common enemy - me!!

cheshire wife said...

I usually try to put an age to everybody, relative to the age that I am. which is all very well, but I still seem to think that I am 21!

Your parents sound like fun! Mine became old the minute they got married.

Debs said...

What incredible parents you have. My mother said to me recently, "I still haven't decided what I want to do when I grow up." She's 68, but has a far livelier social life than I do, and so much more energy.

Ladybird World Mother said...

kitty - I know that one! Finding time to see my parents is quite hard...because of their commitments, not mine!
Catharine Withenay - hadn't thought of my parents as inspirational before, but they are.
Your english seems pretty good to me... and like your blog v much!
Troy - too right. They are outside so much that they stay healthy. I'd hate to be fishing in this weather too. Its hard enough going out to feed the chickens, let alone being up to waist in waders in icy water. Mad.
Hadriana - love the story of your friend. How brilliant to dive at 70. Would find it hard to dive at 48. Some people are just full of life, whatever age.
Mud in the city - I just love the handbag image! Still giggling. Plus Namibia aged 89. That is just incredible. Aren't people like that wonderful.
Crystal jigsaw - will find out which bit of Tweed and tell you!
My parents ARE a hoot... and have such a fun sense of humour, utterly silly but very funny. Love them.
claire's inner world - they sound like fun though! Even though you might want to throttle them around bed time...
cheshire wife - I read somewhere that 'old people are folks 15 years older than you'... mmm, sort of know what they mean..
Also know what you mean about being 21. Wow , you're so mature. I'm only 12!
Debs - your mother sounds like fun... am longing to be full of energy... will I have to wait until I am 68?!

Jen - Queen of Poo said...

Your parents sound awesome! I've tried to explain to my kids that no matter how old I get, I'm the same person, and I feel the same as I did when I was their age, except maybe a little more tired. ;-)

family affairs said...

How lovely to have such inspirational parents - grow old disgracefully that's what I say (and my post today certainly proves I'm heading in the right direction!) Lx

Ladybird World Mother said...

Jen - I think its so good if your kids sort of get mum would tell me that too when I was little and I did start to get what she meant. Having a good laugh with your kids makes them see you in their sort of light too.
family affairs - growing old disgracefully sounds just the ticket! Will start to do that today...