How long do you think you’ll live for?
Excellently festive question, I know.
But relevant, when you consider the main character of Christmas is memorialised by the image of him meeting his death.
He only made it to 33.
I’ve made it to 43 so far, but then I’m not upsetting everyone by marching about claiming to be God’s sprog…
The Great Book of Fairytales (aka The Bible) tells us to expect threescore years and ten (70), or fourscore (80) if we’re especially hardy.
My next-door neighbour has made it to fourscore years and three. She never had children or married but her life is the opposite of lonely. A deeply religious woman, her days are filled with going to church, charitable work, the company of good friends and extended family, cooking and gardening. Her faith is her foundation.
When I worked with older people in a care home, the sharpest residents were almost always the women who had never had children. To the point where if I met a new female resident who was more than fourscore years and in possession of all her cognitive faculties, I could predict with a fair degree of accuracy that she wasn’t a mother.
I don’t know why this should be true, but it made me despair. Is it because we spend a minimum of twenty years having our brains pummelled by mumming? (NB during the course of my deeply scientific research, I did not observe the same phenomenon in the fellas – their cognitive function seemed unaffected by their children – PATRIARCHY!)
Is it because our brain cells are gradually killed off with all the ‘have they had enough to eat?’ and ‘why won’t they sleep?’ and ‘are they taking ketamine or just being massive dicks?’ that by the time our darlings leave home we’ve got twenty years of adequate brain-use left at best?
Anyway, too late. We can’t send them back now.
My 83-year-old neighbour is sadly currently in hospital and looks likely to have to stay in over Christmas. This seems especially cruel considering she is one of a dwindling number of people who have something to genuinely celebrate at this time of year.
Also cruel is the effect this will have on my festive Christmas cupboard (I don’t have an actual festive Christmas cupboard – it’s just my normal kitchen cupboard rammed with mince pies and yule logs which have already been replaced three times so far).
Every year, our neighbour makes us a Christmas cake. Because she is completely smashing and understands that few kids want to eat the curious mix of fruits and nuts and claggyness of a traditional cake, she makes us a vanilla sponge, iced and topped with Christmas trees, snowmen and angels.
We look forward to it every year.
Today, on discovering that her Christmas day will likely be spent on an under-staffed, over-stuffed Orthopaedic ward, courtesy of Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt MP, she wept a little into her tepid NHS soup. She then immediately despatched her sister (threescore years and ten) out to Marks and Spencer to get us one of their special sponge Christmas Cakes.
THAT is a caring Christian, folks.
If I make it to threescore years and ten, I hope my life is as full and vibrant as hers, albeit not as faithful. The Bible says that ‘older women are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine’…which kinda counts me out.
I’ll be popping in to see her tomorrow. I’ll take her some gardening mags and a packet of posh biscuits. I’ll also remind her that she cannot die for at least another ten years because we are not yet in a financial position to buy her adjoining house, knock through and create one gigantic eight-bedroomed mansion.
I know my Good Christian Neighbour will not let me down on this…
See you Monday.