What we old people have is time: lots of it. Shall I cut the grass? Should I go for a walk? Day by day every moment is filled with choices and decisions. Mrs Llew has an almost Benedictine rule of life in which she maps out her day in hours of work and study. I go by impulse and am frequently paralysed by indecision. So the grass is not cut and it is dusk before I set out for a walk. What shall I do?
Looming large over all this paralysis of choice is the paperwork of a lifetime: old letters, birthday cards, mementoes, bank statements, MOT certificates, long spent insurance policies. All kept ‘just in case’.
What we old people do NOT have is time.
I have been spending some hours tearing up old, unneeded documents. So that was when I had a flat tyre and called out the rescue service. So that was when I had yet another hernia operation. Oh, here are the specifications of my now 11-year-old car. Did we really look like that, Mrs Llew and I , in 1986?
The photographs will stay. Much else will go to the incinerator in my garden or to the recycling.
But it’s hard, this surveying of 50 years and more and the bits of paper which are its faint footprints. And then there’s the loft. We have a hoard of ‘Private Eye’ magazines going back to the early 70s. I hope our daughter and her husband will make an e-Bay killing with those.
In sorting out these drying archives we relive our past. We face it. As a clergyman once said, don’t believe someone when he has no regrets.
There is much which I would have done differently, given the experience I have now.
While I have time I will make peace where I can, with others and with myself.
I trust we may forgive each other.We are like children really. I trust we may laugh at our failings. The devil, I’m sure, has no sense of humour. Laughter means hope – for the old that means beyond death’s door.
I greet my friends, living and dead.