Dec 20

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How I want to grow old

Dear lord, when I am old and grey, let me not reject the use of chopsticks because they are foreign.

Let me be a regular old biddy who haunts my local library, borrowing books on astrophysics, biology, Chinese and modern art; on taichi for the elderly, on how to cook Thai food, on computing skills for the 22nd century, and on the philosophy of ancient peoples in far-flung lands.

Let my days not be defined by the four walls of my room.  Let the events in my week be more than a trip to the hospital.

Dear lord, when I am old and grey, let my friends be old and grey with me.  Let us still play savage games of Cluedo together, and walk through the city, and make paella of an evening, and go the cinema and cackle all the way through in our shrieking voices, while young things glower disapprovingly, but are too polite to say anything more.

And let us dye our hair blue, when we are old, because we can, and because we’re past that time when we care that people might care, and freed from the need to look professional, or say the right thing at work, and we can just be ourselves, whole and true.

I am told, dear lord, that we younger generations are slackers and layabouts.  That with university fees of £9,000 per year, our rising costs and shrinking salaries, our debts accrued both in our lifetimes, and in the lifetimes of the older generations that went before, our housing market too expensive to be affordable and our shrinking state pension we can only access when we are 70… we aren’t trying enough.

If this is the case, dear and fluffy lord, then just this once I’ll say – gimme cash.  I swear I will not use it on ridiculous stupid things, but if an income can buy me time away from work when my back gives out and my flesh starts to rebel; if it can buy me a better walking stick, a more comfortable bed, and a carer who twice weekly will come and help me into the shower, and speak softly to me, and treat me with respect – why then, let me have wealth.  Because I am not convinced, the times being what they are, that I shall have comfort and dignity any other way.  And though I blaze with resentment and indignation that this is how things seem to be, and though I will fight with every fibre to make it different, when I am old, I may not have the mind to fight, or the patience or the time, and so let me be selfish, and have the cash to ease my way through my life.

And let me not care for my dignity, knowing that skin is only skin and time is only time; but let people still offer dignity to me regardless, because it is the right thing to do.  Do not surround me with people who tut and say, ‘yes dear, of course dear’ when what they mean is ‘no’; let there be kindness, but also respect.

And, even though I hate them in nit-picky principal, never-the-less when I am old, let me have a Kindle.  At long last, give me the time to read all the books I haven’t got round to reading yet, and save me – dear lord! – save me from daytime TV and BBC Radio 2.  And do not evolve technology to that point where I am befuddled, or worse, afraid of it, but rather I hope that I will be able to access maps and encyclopedias, online courses and films, and be able to skype with all my friends, whether I do so in passing, or from the confines of a hospital bed.  Do not make me fear change, dear lord, because I cannot but suspect that it is change that people fear, more than growing old.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.kategriffin.net/2013/12/20/how-i-want-to-grow-old/


  1. Larry P.

    I wish I could be all those things. There was a time in my life when didn’t think there would be your kind of fantasy. Now there is so much of it I’ll never be able to read all of it. I have three book shelves Hard cover books in the basement that I have read and about fifty books I haven’t read yet. I have a nook with books that haven’t read yet. In your earlier rambling about Kindles, you lamented the fact at not having any books on the shelf. Now I have to figure out what to do with those three shelves of books. It would be a lot easier if they were on my nook.

  2. Bob


  3. Ed

    A lovely written piece that sums up so many of my feelings better than I ever could. I may have to share this slightly wider (properly attributed of course). Hope you have an excellent Christmas and a fantastic 2014!

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