Monday, 14 May 2012

Z would rather be old than not

In some ways, you know, I might not mind being old and decrepit.  When I was first married, the Sage took me to visit elderly friends of his who lived in a beautiful flat in Norwich, on the first floor.  Mrs G always let me ride upstairs on her chair lift (and she fed me Elizabeth Shaw mints and always pressed the rest of the packet into my hand to bring home).  And when darling Kenny bought an electric buggy some years ago, I was quite excited.  So he let me have a ride in it and I went off down to the church gates (about 150 yards or so from the house).  They go at quite a speed you know, it was great fun.  It was better fun when the then Rector, Ian (whose daughter's wedding reception will be on our field in July) drove past.  The expression on his face when he saw me in, he thought, a wheelchair, was very entertaining.  Later, he phoned me in some alarm to find out what the matter was.

Most of the older people I know are desperately anxious not to be seen in a wheelchair, however frail they are.  I'm not too sure why, if it made the difference between getting out and about or being housebound, or being exhausted by walking a few yards instead of sailing along in comfort and earning my keep by having all the shopping bags hung about me rather than the person with me having to carry them as well as care for me, I really think I'd be quite up for it.  Maybe that's easy to say now, when I'm not quite old yet, although I have been in the position of using a walking stick and being grateful for help - and sometimes finding myself in tears because of the unexpected kindness of strangers.

Unexpected, but also quite predictable, I found.  So many occasions - I never had to carry my heavy suitcase, nor stand on a London bus.  My face is quite anxious in repose, I am told, and I suppose I show tiredness quickly (that I am in the way of grinning scarily most of the time is because I've been asked so often why I'm worried, when I was just not smiling), so maybe I worried people ... anyway, I was humbled but never humiliated by being helped and looking vulnerable.


8 comments:

lx said...

On occasion, I have to use a walking stick to support a bad knee for a couple of weeks.

I have noticed that others are noticeably more considerate during that time.

Z said...

Yes, once they see that you need consideration then it's given.

Macy said...

I honestly think my mother just gave up when the reality of life in a wheelchair hit her.
And the thought of never being able to get out of it exasperate me too to be honest. Though personally I'd stick with it given the alternative.

john.g. said...

My wheelchair engenders great help from my friends!

Z said...

The reality of it must have been awful for her, Macy, as well as the shock of the operation and her previous illness. You made her smile though. And we all have to let go in the end.

John darling, I'd push your chair any time, if you know what I mean xxx

ElizT said...

I have a congenital frown. Have to remember to take specs off and smile when I want to talk to babies.

Z said...

I'm with you there, Eliz, with the frown. I put it down to short-sightedness - although I wear a contact lens now.

mig said...

I've heard a lot of people say they hate the idea of using a walking stick or a wheel chair. I use a walking stick whenever we go anywhere steep and it seems to me that wheels and sticks give you extensions of your own limbs - a bit like being bionic.
Also, a while ago I saw two elderly people rather obviously, and hilariously, racing their motorised chairs up the slope to Waitrose. Kept me smiling all day :)