Life is not a rehearsal so live for the moment

John Wilson reflects on turning 80. I thought it was going to be just like most birthdays, just another day!

But it was far from that. Your 80th is a very special birthday, you have survived four score years.

nn

To live to that age, you have surpassed a lot of people who have lived in this world. Some pass away early, some just wear out.

nn

At my age, I have lived longer than my parents – my mother by over 30 years, my father by three years. My grandparents – on both sides – lived into their 90s.

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When I was young, there was never the opportunity to talk to them. Even if I had wanted to, in those days it was unwritten be seen and not heard.

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To this day, I don’t remember ever speaking with my grandparents. A pity – though no fault of my own, just circumstances and the age we lived in – all the things that could have been said were never mentioned.

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Thinking back, and with hindsight, which is a wonderful thing, I would have asked a million questions that now plague my mind. Questions on how they grew up, what was school like, how did they meet. So many unanswered questions.

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I wondered why some of my friends were so animated about this day. After all, it was just another day with a zero in it, not fully realising the significance of this special day, when I supposedly joined the older people around me in the same timeline.

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I received a lot of birthday cards, one in particular from a couple in our village, who wanted to congratulate me on this special day. The wife had hand crafted a special birthday card – I wondered why. It took me some time during that day to become aware that this “was” a special day and people were pleased for me to reach this milestone.

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That is why my wife and two daughters went to so much trouble to make dinner that night, why there were “special gifts”, why there were so many well-wishers by phone in the morning.

nn

I guess I’m not used to being the centre of attention. My wife and I have been blessed by having two lovely daughters, with two hard working husbands, and four daring grandchildren into go-cart racing, cycling, sky diving and other sports I could only dream about. The opportunities for kids are endless these days and for those who are brave enough to try.

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So here I am, awake at 2am on a Saturday morning writing this down. Like many others, sleep alludes me from time to time, it seems a fact of life for many seniors.

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What I can say to those slowly drawing closer to 80: savour the day, appreciate the fact you have made it, and think on all the positive things you have achieved.

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Our family gatherings are full of laughter, everyone gets on well together, there is no pretending, there are no fights, daughters get on well together, they are more than helpful to their mother and are appreciated for their thoughtfulness. I’m sure my wife’s influence has more to do with this than mine. I think we all have some regrets at times – the way we have done some things, the paths we sometimes take, the things we could have done differently, and the lack of time spent with the kids when they were young.

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Life is not a rehearsal. We can’t go back in time, we can only live for the moment, that’s all we have. Ninety seems to be something to aim for. Even if I don’t make it, it won’t be for the want of trying.

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