203 weeks and 5 days | Going Grey

‘Going Grey’ was the phrase on my lips this weekend.

I’d decided late on Friday night that I was going to repaint the snug.

Again.

I’d only painted it just before Christmas but the colour just didn’t suit.

And hey. It’s only paint at the end of the day. I’ve never been one for shying away from trying new colours.

If it doesn’t work, paint over it.

So — instead of a pale silver (that did the room no favours at all) —  I decided on the darkest, moodiest charcoal grey instead.

My boy and I make a great team — especially when it comes to painting and decorating. I am responsible for cutting in with a paintbrush whilst he fills in the middle with a roller.

We adopted those roles so naturally. I don’t remember there ever being a discussion — we just started out that way. And here we are, twenty years on, doing the same thing.

Twenty years on.

Twenty.

A whole lifetime.

And here-in lies the thing that had been bugging me since my birthday last week.

I am getting old.

Going Grey
Going grey: painting the walls to match my hair!
Going Grey
In love with the colour — Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball

My skin is beginning to show signs of age.

And, like the walls of our snug, my hair is going grey.

But the visible signs of ageing are not really the thing that was upsetting me. Odd that when you start talking about ‘growing old’ everyone just assumes you’re talking about looks.

I’d posted a pic on Instagram early on Saturday morning.

Nothing unusual about that. It was a normal pic — nothing special — just a picture of me in my lovely new coat, that my boy had bought for my birthday.

But as I’d posted it — instead of a little caption about my coat — I’d gone off on a bit of a tangent and ended up writing about how I was feeling.

This prompted a fantastic response on my Facebook and Instagram threads. Lovely friends trying to allay my fears; reassure me that I didn’t look my age.

But it really, really wasn’t anything about looks.

The post was written in fear — rather than pride. Fear of the future. Fear of losing my parents — Richard’s parents. The dread of losing the love of my life. Anxiety of not being around for my own beautiful boys.

Going Grey
My gorgeous baby
Going Grey
Love this cheeky little face!

My birthday — instead of promoting joy and excitement — had thrown up so many negative thoughts.

I don’t look my age. And I certainly don’t feel my age. But chronologically — and biologically — I am that age.

But I am not ready to be any older. Not just yet.

I want things to stay exactly as they are. And this is the crux of the matter.

Things are perfect at the moment. My boy and I are so happy. We have each other; our health. We have our beloved sons; who we’d waited so patiently for.

We both still have both of our parents. All of our siblings.

We both have our own businesses — careers that we love. Working for yourself can be scary and unpredictable (especially at first) and for quite a few years money was very tight. But for the first time in ages we’re doing well financially.

Sure we could do with a bit of extra cash (who couldn’t?); but things are comfortable after a long time of scrimping and saving.

Life is good.

Life — for me — is perfect. There is nothing I want that would make it any better.

Apart from to stop time.

Going Grey
Roller-King
Going Grey
Edges-Queen

Things can change in a heartbeat. I know this only too well, through losing my friend.

But — death aside — one of the things I’d questioned, in my little rambling Instagram post, was whether I’ll actually ever begin to feel my age? I certainly do not feel as though I’m in my mid-forties, that’s for sure.

In my head, I’m still twenty eight.

Which brings me on to an interesting theory, flagged up by one of my friends in response to my question. Which would certainly explain why I feel the age I do.

He said that the disparity between chronological and mental age usually starts at around the age of eight, when we start to think of ourselves as older than we are; a fourteen year old thinking they’re eighteen for example.

The gap begins to close and at the age of twenty-five — or thereabouts — our body and mind finally sync and we feel our age.

Hurrah!

Although — don’t get too excited.

After that, the gap in chronological and perceived age starts to grow apart in the other direction. By our early thirties there is already a noticeable difference by just a few years. The gap continues to grow and those who are sixty-five have a perceived age of fifty.

Which is how he knows about this stuff.

He works for a funeral plan company and said that although they market their funeral plans to the over fifties, they know full well that the majority of people don’t even begin researching them until they’re sixty five. As that is when they think they are old enough to start looking at those sort of things.

He finished off by saying.

We’ll always be much younger in mind than body. All we can do is to try our very best to live young too.

Amen to that.

And so endeth the tale of ‘going grey’.

The snug looks amazing in it’s new shade by the way. And I feel better, having spent a full and happy weekend surrounded by friends and family. My fears have been shelved.

Until next birthday.

And the moral of the story is, no matter how old your birth certificate says you are, unless you’re twenty-five you probably won’t feel your age.

Going Grey
So the walls may be going grey but our life is still full of colour

113 weeks and 6 days | Death and taxes plus tiny miracles

Nothing is certain but death and taxes — that’s how the age old adage goes isn’t it?

It’s a pretty bleak proverb but never a truer word was spoken, that’s for sure.

We lost my nana this weekend. She passed away at around 6am on Saturday morning. She would have been 94 exactly a month today so it’s not wholly unsurprising that she’s gone but I still feel so very sad about it.

That said, I will admit to feeling much sadder about my grandad’s death. Even though he was the same age — almost 93 when he died — it really wasn’t his time.

28th May 2011.

Etched in my memory because this is also the date that my beautiful boy and I celebrate getting together. It was the day that we started going out with each other, nearly 20 years ago and we have celebrated it ever since.

And now it has another poignant meaning. It’s the day my grandad — the man my first born son is named after — passed away.

He’d broken his collarbone whilst trying to lift a fence panel that had blown over in the wind, ended up in hospital and was moved to a ward that had had an outbreak of Norovirus.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I was devastated. My amazing, blue eyed, grandpa — who’d been sent to North Africa in the 2nd World War. The furthest he would ever travel, it turned out.

His death was all wrong. He wasn’t ill — he was the most sprightly OAP I’ve ever come across — with a lightening quick mind and all his faculties. It was a terrible twist of fate that he’d ended up in in the UK’s most notorious hospital — Stafford — just after an outbreak of a virus, that ended up killing him.

And the thing that I just couldn’t come to terms with was the fact that my nana — the woman he’d been married to for 66 years — the love of his life, was left alone. Without her husband. I cried buckets about it. It was just so sad.

Death and taxes
Death and taxes plus tiny miracles | Bert & Alice’s wedding photo, 1945

My nana’s passing is just so different.

Although she’s been ill, on and off, for a year now, she wasn’t gravely ill. She was still chatty and ‘with it’. She didn’t really go into a steep decline until just over a week ago, when the doctor ordered a syringe driver. A palliative care device, giving a shot of morphine every time her pain levels became too severe. And once that’s in place, as my mum sagely noted, it marks the beginning of the end.

Which it did.

When my mum called on Saturday to say that nan had gone, I felt a strange mix of emotions. I felt great sadness that my single, remaining grandparent had gone.  Anger that I wasn’t going to see her again. Sympathy for my mum, who’d just lost her own mother (both her parents, now, in fact). And I felt relief that my nana’s suffering was over. In more sense that one. Her pain was gone and her loneliness — without her beloved Bert — went with it.

She’d had such an amazing life. The best part of a century, living through times that we’ll (hopefully) never see in this country again.

She’d been ‘in service’. A real life maid from real life ‘Upstairs Downstairs’; working in a big house, for people born into a life so different from her own.

In the war she joined the WAAF — the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force — something that she spoke about with great fondness and pride.

Death and taxes
Death and taxes plus tiny miracles | Nan (right) in the WAAF

The things she’s seen over the years are extraordinary. And she was my nana. How lucky was I to have such a brilliant and interesting relative? For so long too.

But now she’s gone.

This could be seen as a tragic tale but I’ll leave you with a little something that happened yesterday. Something that left me with an enormous grin on my face.

My mum and auntie went to the funeral director’s in the morning to make the funeral arrangements. They chatted about the service, the flowers, whether they should have pallbearers or not. And upon discussing the date, the options given were Thursday or Friday of next week.

My mum and auntie both agreed that Thursday would probably suit everyone the best so the gentleman went to get the diary, to make a note of it.

Upon his return he said to my mum, ‘OK. All booked in then, Next Thursday, the 28th May.’

28th May.

To say that this is a coincidence doesn’t quite do it justice. If I was asking for a little sign that my lovely nan and grandad are back together, this is most surely it. Saying goodbye to nan on the exact day that we lost my grandad is absolutely poetic.

And given it’s the day that my boy and I celebrate our own union — our own love-story — makes me so happy. A tiny miracle if you will. My nan is now back with my grandad and all is well.

Rest in peace xxxx

Death and taxes
Death and taxes plus tiny miracles | My lovely nan