Monday, 14 January 2013
I have visitors this week, family, their 45-year-old son is, as we speak, undergoing a heart procedure for very irregular heart-beat. I gather that his heart has to be painstakingly checked nerve by nerve for the culprit to be found and cauterized. Hence the lengthy operation - could be up to six hours. My sister and brother-in-law have travelled from the Karoo, a 7-hour trip by car, to be with him at this time. It got me thinking about life generally and more specifically, how we are inclined to examine our life's achievements as we head towards retirement. Do we harbor regrets? Of course. There is always cloud-cuckoo land in which we fantasize about the great things we could have done but didn't. Should we agonize about decisions taken in the past which could have been different? I think not. Hindsight is unhelpful. We did what we did at the time with the knowledge we had then. If I have any unfulfilled dreams, to date, I have never tried to bring them to the surface of my life. I am doing that today, as I wait for my nephew to come out of the operating theatre. For many years, I tried to act to please my mother: when I was about 40, I gave up on that and tried just to be myself. I have been madly in love twice in my life. In my twenties, I devoted three years to trying to change myself to fit the needs of my beloved. I couldn't live up to his expectations. It was devastating but the break-up taught us both what we should really be looking for in a partner for life. I was so lucky to find those qualities in my husband of 35 years, and so was my ex. I have often quailed at the thought of how I should survive should my beloved husband finally be taken from me by either age or disease. I make survival plans: I should get a dog, I would join an amateur dramatic society. I would simply be as busy as I could possibly be to stave off the loneliness. Children and grandchildren wouldn't cut it: they have their own lives and loves. My ultimate ambition that would transport me to levels of extreme happiness, I now acknowledge, would have been to train my voice to the level that I could have been a professional member of an operatic chorus. That would have done it for me. However, when push comes to shove, my priority was to be absolutely and devotedly loved by the man in my life. Nothing comes close to that. And nothing can take that away from me.