Old age is not always an easy stage in life. At any moment you are threatened with death, illness, immobility or forced dependence – yeah I guess old age really isn’t for sissies. But there’s another side to getting old that we tend to forget about. The oldies are the ones who get to stay until the end of the party. They have lasted the distance and dodged bullets; escaped senseless death through accident, violent murder or illness, they’re still here.
I’ve just been thinking about all of this because of the recent passing of my uncle Liam Noctor, a brilliant warm man with a great sense of humour. In the past few years, my Mam and Dad have witnessed the loss of a number of their contemporaries, both friends and family. I’ve talked to my Mam about how difficult it is now to live, just wondering who is next. I’ve wondered about how older people manage to live with the ever present threat of death.
But I’ve realised that despite the challenge that old age brings in terms of the inevitability of death, they are still luckier than most. Essentially we are all faced with the possibility of imminent death; we simply can’t know when we will be struck down. Young, middle aged or whatever, disease, accident, violence, or personal stupidity can all take us early. But when you are old, at least you have the comfort of knowing that you lived until the end, you didn’t get taken early. You are going to finish their race. I only hope I am lucky enough to be allowed to keep running till the end and finish my race.