Here I am, halfway through my three-score-years-and-ten, and still wondering why all those years ago I was so worried about getting older — it’s great and I love it.
And if I am halfway, and I’ve been growing up all this time, then technically it should be a downhill ride and freewheeling from now on. Although that does expose a rather sadistic irony: you spend 35 years slowly working your way uphill and then just before you reach the summit (and therefore the descent) they give you a bloody motorised wheelchair! Could’ve done with that on the way up. Bastards.
I still get a little bit excited on the days approaching my birthday, the same sort of feeling I used to get approaching the end of term at school. On the day itself I get a kind of euphoria and nothing seems to faze me for 24 hours — I’m not sure why as it’s rare nowadays that anything particularly special happens on the actual day and I don’t exactly go around in a mad “OHMYGODIT’SMYBIRTHDAYISN’TITGREAT?!?!” mood. I’m just … happy.
I’m different this year too. I wouldn’t say more mature as such, but I’m definitely in a different mindset (to use a cliché). I’ve realised something: I’m going to die. Not right now but I will, at some point in the future, expire.
When I was much younger and considering what my declining physical health would mean to me, the question of suicide popped into my head on more than one occasion. Would I be able to handle the downhill slide (of disability, not age)? And can I consider ending it all an option?
The answer to the “can I handle it?” question is “Yes, with help.”
The answer to the second question is “Fuck that, it’d hurt too much!”
Seriously though, one night a few years ago, Neill (one of my brothers) was driving me home after me, him and Russell (my other brother) had been out for [more than] a few drinks, and we got onto the subject of my disability and death — I vaguely remember telling him that his two kids gave me a reason to live. I made it clear to him, as I hope I am to you now, that it wasn’t a case of “I’d kill myself if it wasn’t for your kids” but more that, if I ever do get depressed, then knowing that I have family and friends really helps. But the bit that surprised me when I realised it was that it’s not the fact that they love me, it’s the fact that they let me love them. Sure, it’s great being loved but it’s bloody fantastic having someone to love. “It’s better to give than receive” fits nicely.
Changing the subject ever so slightly, the carer’s nephew asked me a question the other day that I genuinely believe I have never been asked before, despite it being a popular dinnertime conversation piece, and I was chuffed with the answer that popped into my head:
Marcus: “Would you say that the glass is half-full or half-empty?”
Me: ” … It depends.”
Marcus: “On what?”
Me: “Well, if you were pouring something into the glass then it would be half-full, but if you were drinking out of it then it would be half-empty.”
Marcus: “Ah, good point … I’m stealing that!”
My answer may not mean much but he was impressed!
Happy birthday to me.