You know how, quite suddenly, your life can change completely? Like climbing to the top of the Faraway Tree, there you are in a different world, mentally and physically?
It’s happened to me recently, in a nice way thank goodness; this is not a story of misery and woe, you can read on without the tissues. It is, however, a tale in two parts, so I will attempt to be brief. (Something I find difficult, you may have noticed.)
Part One started several months ago when some people I know and love – actually my daughter and her family – suggested I cease my solitary life and move in with them. We would find a nice big house to share, we would all save money and I would not be lonely any more. Translate: they would not have to worry about me lying dead for days in my unit, and the regular transportation of food from my place to theirs would be simpler. Ditto the ironing.
I pondered on this suggestion long and hard. I wasn’t actually that lonely. But I could see, as the years rolled by and I became more decrepit, that it might happen. And I had this vision, perhaps a little unrealistic, of myself in the role of matriarch; sitting regally in the corner, dispensing pearls of wisdom to two adoring teenagers while their parents plied me with coffee and gin, depending on the time of day.
So we found the house and we all moved in. What have I learnt?
That silence is golden.
That faith can probably move mountains because it can certainly move boxes your own weight (and wreck your back for weeks in the process.)
That smart young removalists do not listen to elderly women. Night one and a search for my toothbrush leads to the back shed, boxes row one, level four, three down.
That silence is golden and your advice is neither sought nor wanted.
That I thought I was a rather messy person but compared to two teenagers I am Marie Kondo.
That when two teenagers tell you “that is sooo 20th century”, you probably sound like Joe Biden.
That two families can collect enough unwanted stuff to require its own landfill site. I will let you know the date of the garage sale.
That some people think alcohol should be taken in moderation. (I agree with this in theory.)
That tolerance is the greatest virtue and my way is not the best or even the only way. Quite a surprise, that one.
That my son-in-law is a damn fine cook. No surprise at all. (And he does not need my helpful suggestions.)
That life as you know it will not end if you miss The Drum.
That silence is golden and sometimes it is best to just walk away (being careful not to flounce.)
And a thousand other things on which I have already discovered that silence is golden.
So the arduous, exhausting, horrid move (aren’t they all?) is complete and we are hoping that three adults, two teenagers and one adored cavoodle will all live happily ever. I am really busy, which is doubtless good at my advanced age, and I feel useful, which is also pleasant. And through all of this upheaval, I came to another life-changing decision, which segues nicely into …
Part Two. Though I wouldn’t be silly enough to make any wild promises, this will probably be my last blog, my last anything vaguely literary. After well over fifty years as a professional wordsmith, I realised I have nothing left to say and no new words with which to say it. So it’s time to retire. Not the done thing for a writer and I’m not expecting a gold watch or even flowers and morning tea with a few kind platitudes, but I’m going to do it anyway. I have writerly friends even older than I still wrestling with novels which they expect to finish and see published and god help them, I hope they do, but the thought of going through all that angst and sweat again is not for me.
I’ve had a marvellous career, I’ve made so many friends, met so many amazing people and had so much fun doing something I loved that I feel singularly blessed. There were down days, lots of them, but the highs were Himalayan and the memories remain so vivid, there’s enough of those to live on forever. Time to close the laptop and pick up a book – someone else’s book; maybe one written by one of my younger friends who still have a long way to go on this fantastic journey.
So thank you for reading or watching over the decades. I hope we shared both laughter and tears for that’s life.
Now I might go and do a bit of ironing. Also life.