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.