Doug Massie, my last remaining Grandparent turned 90 this year and I know it sounds selfish but I really worry about going to see him these days as you are never sure when your goodbye might be the last one. I’m not wishing him away or anything but each time you see him you are reminded that all those years do take their toll on the body and mind – as he says himself “Old age doesn’t come itself!” I know how very lucky I and the rest of the family are to still have him with us and in reasonable health – even more so how lucky I have been with grandparents overall having grown up knowing seven in all; Granda Massie is the last one standing which is not something you would have put money on with all the bad health he has suffered over the years.
A man of good humour and patience he has always been honest and supportive of all the family. First to volunteer to help at any point while he was still fit and able to do so – running us to appointments rather than us taking taxis, doing messages for anyone without a car or just out for a walk and popping in to the house to see you. For as long as I have known him he was a man on the go with heaps of energy, but hen time took its toll and when he lost his wife, our Granny, a couple of years ago he began to age all of a sudden. He loved her to pieces and doted on her – even though she wasn’t always the most complimentary person about him – throughout her life and especially in her illness towards the end.
You don’t really think too much about the ageing process when you are my age, you just look at the landmarks and with me being just over four years from forty I don’t really feel too old. Then once you spend time with someone who has aged over the years you’ve known them, you do start to think about family and those around you and how none of you are getting any younger. Not in a maudlin or morose way, just that you know that once the last member of the family of that generation goes it’s your parents and their siblings that take their places. Something I really don’t want to consider – my folks, aunties and uncles aren’t old in my head, but I suppose again you can’t fight time.
Last time I went to see him before today, he was sorting through his funeral arrangement paperwork – must be an age thing! You do wonder if you hit a certain age and start to think about things like that; is there a moment or a birthday where you go looking for those forms and companies – or do they come to you? I want him and all my family to live for as long as possible, but as long as they are fit and free of any kind of illness or suffering. I hope he lives to see his century as long as his health is good and he wants to be around. You do take family for granted at times and it’s easy to convince yourself that the status quo will always remain – it won’t unfortunately. That’s why you should take the opportunities to connect with family you have lost touch with and spend time getting to know them as people – not just the labels we give them.
I look forward to visiting him lots more in 2014 in his 91st year of life.