Bernard has posed a few queries. A couple of them caused me to cast my mind back into the dim distant. And all because he reckoned he’d like to do a survey of centurions – no, not cricketers, but those who’ve reached a century of years. He has a series of probings he’d like to ask them. Reaching one’s hundredth birthday would be truly remarkable, but Salt states that one in a thousand of us do it. My physical health is okay, so I figure I am in with a chance. Maybe I’ll join the club – but would I want to? Well that’s another matter. But at this point in life, with thirty-five years to go, I’m already reckoning that my brain is turning to mush. Many, many memories are already lost to me – how many more will be gone after those three and a half decades? So, in case I do not get anywhere near it, I thought I’d respond to a few that he posed – the ones I’d mulled over in the days since his column appeared in the Australian’s weekend magazine insert. Maybe, if you also have the time to read this, you may also have the time to ponder on those questions as well – that is, if like me, you too have attained a goodly age. Or, on the other hand, maybe you may think that this silly old retired person has too many hours on his hands.
First Kiss? That’s clear as a bell in my synapses – even though it occurred an incredibly long time ago now, but then, it was my coming of age so to speak. I wish my mind was as clear about some of the other significant moments in my life. I had a youthful body once upon a time that had been thirsting for just that first kiss moment. Sandy, sweaty, salty – and it was totally, totally delicious. It set off all sorts of reactions. The local strand, two beach towels close together, a girl in a bikini wet from the sea. Bells and whistles. Fireworks.
Then there was another first kiss – decades further on and just as magically life affirming. Not a beach this time but a kitchen. That kiss has taken me to a very contented place in life in my autumn years – the opposite end of the journey I guess. The effect was just as the same as that very first time, but so very much more came of it.
Wedding Night? Now I am assuming, perhaps naively, that Mr Salt isn’t interested in any of the between the sheets stuff – but it did get me thinking. In recent years I’ve attended a goodly few weddings and they’re invariably magical events, none more so when my dear Kate and Rich made the commitment to their wonderful partners. It was at such an event that my brother seemed taken aback when I commented that I had only the very haziest of memory of his wedding many, many years ago now. It remains the case too with my own, as well as those of my other siblings. Numerous mates have been similarly wedded over the decades and there’s nothing there of those either. It’s as if, from the seventies to the nineties, my memory banks were in lock-down mode. That being said, I cannot conceive of my son’s or daughter’s ever disappearing for as long as I remain. And I had a ball at those ceremonies of my nieces and nephews in the new millennium, as well as those of some of my teaching colleagues. But maybe these will fade too. It saddens me that I’ve lost so much that’s clearly worth recalling.
Caused the Most Pain? There’s a simple answer to that. Death. Not only of those I’ve deeply loved in a personal capacity but, these days, it’s also the demise of many heroes of my generation – especially those of the musical variety. I’m rendered tearful, speechless and in need of time to get my emotions back in order.
The Best Decade? Well, that’s easy Mr Salt. This one. And it’s for the opposite of above – birth. This sexagenarian is incredibly blessed to be able to be around to see his granddaughters come into the world. A couple of days ago I was in Bridport, my second favourite place in the whole world, peering into the stunning blue eyes of Olivia, only a couple of months old, giving her her bottle. She fixated herself on me, her jaws working away at the teat, unwaveringly regarding me as if trying to work out where exactly I fitted in her ever expanding orb. She will work it out soon enough. My adored Tessa Tiger tells me in so many ways that I am important to her world and I feel so chuffed. My lovely lady’s two lads are descending on us for a few days over the Easter period and it will be such fun having them fill the house by the river with their zest and many, many charms. My Leigh is at her happiest when she is with those two little men. I find myself regarding babies and toddlers when I am out and about in Hobs, smiling at them, making eye contact. Maybe I’ll even pass on an appreciative comment to a parent about his or her tiny cherub. So yes, my old body isn’t what it used to be and clearly my mental acumen has gone down a notch or two, but having these four aforementioned small people around in my dotage – well, I wouldn’t be dead for quids. And how I’d love to live on and on to see their worlds unfold.
Happiest in my Life? Reading the above surely it is obvious. It really has to be the here and now, doesn’t it? As well as the love of those I hold most dear, I have our spot by the river here, my man cave, time and a gorgeous city to frequent. There’s a cruise beckoning as well as other trips beyond hazily forming, a ton of good books, DVDs to peruse and not even the woes of the Hawks can take away the pleasure of another footy season up and running. Man, am I ever lucky.
There are other questions that Bernard S requires answers to – but those will have to wait for another day. And the point of the exercise has been, as if I need reminding, that for all the awfulness on this planet, it is mainly filled with good people and they give to me far more than I could ever repay.