One of David’s work colleagues took early retirement this week. I asked what he was going to do next and my straight-to-the-point husband answered ‘Not work…’. This guy is a shining example of someone who lives a simple life – he has no mobile phone, no email address, no social media accounts and he is extremely content. It amazes me that anyone can get by these days seemingly so unconnected but he obviously can. His wife does have an email address, though; I think it would be almost impossible to function in today’s society without one. There are a few people in this village who only have a landline and a postal address – you remember – how we all lived about 20 years ago?! It’s extraordinary to think that since about 1997, we’ve gone from being perfectly able to live happy lives reading newspapers, talking on a phone in the hall attached to the wall with a wire, handwriting letters and cards and watching the news on the tv once a day to being connected All The Time, always checking emails, social media accounts and beeping phones, with so much news about the whole wide world coming at us thick and fast. We can find out anything at all – from how to debone a partridge to how long it takes to climb Kilimanjaro on the best route – in minutes. This can be a very good thing and a very bad thing (think self-diagnosis). It’s no wonder our lives are overloaded.
When I went to boarding school aged 12, I used to phone home once a week from the phone box down the road and calls weren’t long. My mum used to write me letters once or twice a week with news from home and that was it. That was all the communication I had with home aged 12. Today, my 18-year-old son has a mobile phone and a laptop – we can call him, text him, email him or Skype him and his brother and sister can see what he puts on Snapchat or Instagram (I can’t because parents and children don’t mix on social media in this household). I am certainly not speaking to him every day but I’ve had a couple of text exchanges and two chats in the past week and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. On one day I can hear that he’s discovered that his weekly contact hours with the uni are shockingly low, so I spend a sleepless night worrying, and the next day hear it’s ok because he’s chosen his modules and there are more hours and his course sounds brilliant. On another day I hear that he feels very isolated because his halls aren’t on campus and his flatmates are a tad annoying, I fret about him being lonely and then hear that he’s met up with a school friend who is living in halls on campus and has had a great time with him there. Maybe I should tell him I’ll speak to him once a week when he can give me his edited highlights.
I definitely feel slap bang in the classic middle life sandwich situation at the moment. I spent an exhausting and emotional two and a half hours with my mum and a psychiatrist yesterday. He was the first person I’ve seen with her who seemed to have a complete handle on what is going on – he was practical, kind, organised and reassuring; just what you need in a doctor and it was such a relief. Mum has been diagnosed with dementia on top of the Parkinson’s. This is not particularly a surprise for us but it is still a shock and we know now that she’s going to be in for an even tougher ride and we have to pull together even more. There are difficult conversations to have, legal stuff to put in place and practical considerations. I’m not sure I can really continue to write about it here. Personal blogs are just that – personal – and people write about what they want to write about and others either read it or they don’t, but I don’t know if I want to write about it or, even if it helps me to write about it, whether it’s right to do so. My head is in a spin. There is such a thing as too much information and definitely such a thing as too much sharing. I may go quiet for a while and pop up occasionally with flowers. Or I may rant and rave at the world and tell you what we’re having for dinner. Whatever I do, I hope you’ll bear with me.
Right! I have a dog to walk, meals to plan and food to buy. My brother is coming over tomorrow and we’re getting together with my parents for some quality family time. We need to make the best of it while we can. We all need to pack it all in and make the most of every day. Wishing you a lovely weekend, making the most of it with your loved ones.