Age, they say, is just a number. But some numbers are more important than others. I suppose seventy is one of them. Three score years and ten used to be the measure of a good life. To be sure, lots of people get past that number, more and more as health services improve – in a country like Australia, anyway. The average measure of a life in first world countries is over eighty. But seventy is a pretty good innings in yer average cricket match. I’ve outscored quite a few members of my family.
So… what’s to say about seventy? I’m fortunate to be able to say the brain is still functioning well. Sure, I forget some things and walking through doorways is fraught with danger. But I can still do word games and I’m not bad at trivia. And I can write a book now and then. I’m good at all those little quizzes that are supposed to show if you’re headed for dementia and that is a matter of great relief to me. I can’t think of too many fates I fear more than losing my mind.
Mind you, I’ve had my moments. A friend and I visited the butterfly house at Kuranda on my actual birthday. We had to sign in for covid contact-tracing. The first question was ‘date of visit’. I turned to my friend and said, “What’s the date?” After we’d both stopped laughing we explained to the perplexed lady at the counter that it was my birthday. She laughed with us.
Then there’s the other part. The human body is a complex machine that starts to deteriorate from about age 25. We women aren’t really designed to function past menopause. I suppose back in our past nobody lasted much longer than forty or fifty years. You have your kids them make room for them via moving on to… whatever. Actually, I’m proud to say that my body is holding up pretty well, a bit like a vintage Rolls. Yes, there are some creaks and groans and the upholstery is rather a lot more generous than it used to be. The back could do with a refit and I have osteo-arthritis in my fingers but it’s not bad. I take myself in for regular maintenance (breast screen and colonoscopy) and I still take HRT. Oh – and I have to wear glasses. And that’s about it. I feel quite left out when my peers engage in discussions over their ailments and medications.
Maybe that’s famous last words. I should shut up.
One thing about a Milestone Birthday is that it’s a great excuse for a Big Bash. After a year of staying home – unheard of in the past decade – we took a drive up to Cairns in Far North Queensland for the big day, shared with a couple of friends. That’s covid-acceptable behaviour here since we’re Queenslanders holidaying in Queensland. But even so, the impacts of covid are obvious and devastating for the towns we passed through. Closed shops, empty restaurants, half-empty hotels. Tours reduced from once a day to once a week. I’ll talk about that in more detail when I write blogs for our travels.
But here’s one example. We were going to go on an organised tour up to Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. But then we looked at the covid-driven changes. No BBQ lunch, no feeding wallabies, no Mossman gorge. In the end we agreed we could drive ourselves to Mossman Gorge and to the Daintree River to look for crocs. It’s going to be very hard for these businesses to survive until ‘normalcy’ returns. Up here, international tourists are essential to the economy.
Anyway, life goes on. Everybody is sick of covid and looking forward to the vaccine – all except the loopy people who are anti-vaccination (despite the obvious success of polio, whooping cough, tetanus, malaria, smallpox etc etc vaccines)