Turning 70

By Biddy Collyer - 31 May 2018
A picture of a woman hiking
No party thank you. I decided to spend my big 70th birthday in Seville with my two daughters, spending precious leisurely time together, eating, drinking and just hanging out. There is no mistake, this is a big one. The bible talks about a man’s life span being three score years and ten. As it rapidly approached it appeared as if I was running into a brick wall that would stop me in its tracks. I cannot deny the fact that there are fewer years ahead of me than behind. What lays beyond? Senility? Immobility? Total dependence on others to look after my intimate needs? I don’t know but it felt scary.

A baby boomer, I also feel that I am being held to blame for the inability of the millenials to gain a foot on the housing ladder. Blamed for maybe becoming a bed blocker and taking up precious NHS resources. Blamed for having enjoyed all the advantages of being born after the war when the years of rationing gave way to the vibrancy of the 60s and 70s. 

I count it a bonus when I am not offered a seat on the tube, even as I acknowedge that with increasing years, come increasing invisibility. Where is the respect that are talked of in the Psalms where grey hair is a sign of wisdom not nuisance?

All very depressing, until I started to count my blessings. My generation are much fitter, by and large, than previous ones. I am as mobile now as I was ten years ago, I cycle and travel widely. In fact, I am planning with three friends, one older than me, to walk across the country West to East between Easter and Pentecost in 2020. My first grandchild is due in a couple of months. Life is still expanding rather than contracting. I share my home with a young woman who lodges with me. I can provide the shelter that she cannot yet afford. We laugh together, and on the odd occasions when we are both in of an evening, share a glass of wine at the local pub. I love it when she gently knocks on the door at night, wanting to talk something over. She values my years of experience and I value her excitement about her future and her joie de vivre.   

I don’t know how many years lie ahead. No doubt my mobility will reduce and my health decline. But I do know that this life is not all there is. Set within that brick wall that I felt I was facing, there is a Narnia style wardrobe door, through which I will someday be guided into a glorious future.
Biddy Collyer is a local writer, contributes regularly to the EDP and attends St Stephen’s church in Norwich.

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