birthday gifts

Dear Sienna,

If things had gone as planned – as promised in the ideal world I used to live in – you would be turning four today. Anzac Day wouldn’t be just Anzac Day; it would be your birthday. And I would probably be wondering if the shops were open because I forgot to buy sprinkles to make the fairy bread for your party.

Things would be different.

But it isn’t your birthday today. Today there is no four-year-old girl at our house. Your big brother is still the baby of the family – though at eight he really isn’t a baby any more. When I see him with our puppy – the way he cuddles and calls him ‘Bubba’ – I know he would have been a great big brother. He’s not supposed to be the youngest.

And Indy? Well I know she wishes she could say the words: ‘My little sister’ without watching them fall to the ground – all meaning lost because you’re not here.

Today – on your would-be birthday – I wonder what you would look like. I remember ‘four’ with the other two. Such a gorgeous age. Would you be blonde like them? When you were born you had your brother’s legs and chin. Your eyes were the same beautiful shape as your sister’s. As tiny as you were there was no doubt you were so much like both of them. I wonder: what funny things would you say if you were four? Who would your little friends be? What would you like to eat? Would you have a favourite toy? TV show? Bedtime story?

But all of this wondering comes to nothing. Because you are not here.

Things are different.

In the void after I lost you I returned to writing. I wrote about you. That was the beginning. A collusion of inexplicable good fortune saw me land a most amazing job. Through it all I fell headlong back into a long lost love affair with the world of words. I became more *me* than I’d ever been. Because of you. The gift of you.

But you know I’d give it all back in a heartbeat if I could have you. Never gonna happen. Because everything is different now.

I don’t believe in heaven any more. Not because of you. Just because. Words like ‘god’ and ‘soul’ and ‘angel’ don’t sing to me. But there’s still one thing that does.

When I planned your funeral I struggled to find a song to play. The funeral people had some suggestions – and yeah Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven breaks everyone’s heart but wasn’t right for you. But, the day before you were to be born I got in my car and there, on the radio, was the song.

I knew immediately. Ok, it turns out this is one of the most requested funeral songs ever, so I am rather predictable after all. Nevermind. It still works for me. And this is why. As always, it’s about the words.

When I’m feeling weak/And my pain walks down a one way street

Yep. Not only do I love me a metaphor, but I’ve been down that one way street.

There’s also this:

Down the waterfall/Wherever it may take me/I know that life won’t break me

Yep again. When you’ve been through the worst you kind of adopt a bit of a ‘bring it’ attitude. It’s a strength that you have given me. Another gift.

And here’s the thing – the reason good ol’ Robbie Williams reached me in this way is because I *should* be loving a four-year-old little girl, but turns out I’m not. Call you an angel, call you whatever – but things are different and loving you as a memory, well, that’s what I’m doing instead.

So today,  this life of infinitesimal wonder, confusing and conflicted awe, marrow-sucking, torturous, life-affirming, mind-blowing, O Captain! My captain! Carpe diem–ness – today it sucks in the most exquisitely bittersweet way.

But, at the bottom of it all… I miss you.

Happy birthday.

Mummy

xx

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Filed under loss, parenting, writing

the best pr in town

The narrative of parenting is littered with clichés. From the ‘being a parent is demanding but oh so fulfilling’ proclamations to the constant worship at the altar of ‘unconditional love’ and the declarations that life was somehow incomplete until the progeny came along, parenting is a public relations dream come true. But I find myself occasionally cringing at how readily we spout banalities when we become parents. It’s a soapbox I have been on before but I return to it again because of a little piece of parenting propaganda from the Hollywood machine.

The film I’m talking about is Baby Mama – now don’t get me wrong, Tina Fey is my total celebrity girlcrush and I get all tingly and excited when 30 Rock comes on the tele. But I found myself weeping with both sadness and frustration at the end of the film and questioning how such representations of parenthood both influence and cloud our perceptions.

Baby Mama tells the story of Kate, a single woman in her late 30’s who has dedicated herself to her career and now finds that she has left it too late to have a baby. (How many hackneyed ideas can you spot in that sentence?) Kate decides to go to a surrogacy agency to have the baby of her dreams. The surrogate mother turns out to be a fraud who deceives Kate into believing she is pregnant in order to make a quick buck. Unbelievably both women fall pregnant to their prospective boyfriends and have perfect babies – ‘happily ever after’ seems inevitable.

I chose this film because I thought it would be filled with irreverent humour and irony – and indeed Sigourney Weaver’s turn as the über-fertile middle-aged director of the surrogacy agency was my favourite part of the film. But what I objected to was the ending where everyone had a baby (naturally I might add, so there’s a slap in the face to anyone who may have conceived a child by other means) and the distinct subtext was that these two unfulfilled women would now be happy because they had entered the exalted club of parenthood.

I admit I was emotional when I watched this film (it was around this time last year, on the day my angel should have turned three) but when I shared my thoughts with my best friend she could see my point. While we both love our kids and now can’t imagine life without them, we wonder why we never felt that we could have chosen a child-free path. The unspoken understanding is that it is a choice you might regret – that the happy ending will somehow elude you if you walk the road less travelled. Our consensus was that, biological imperative aside, parenting has an awesome public relations team on the job. As my friend said, “Having kids can be wonderful but so can other things. And sometimes being a parent can be just damn hard.” But this is not something you hear often. If someone does dare to complain about parenting or their children it is almost expected that they will balance the expression with a platitude such as, “But I wouldn’t swap them for quids.”

After watching Baby Mama I was once again left worrying for women who do not have children – either by choice or by circumstance. How do they cope in the face of the overwhelming juggernaut of parenting PR? Anyone who has watched a friend or relative struggle with IVF or other fertility issues undoubtedly knows the answer to that question. And so this week I have been asking: where are the narratives about women and men who are not, and never will be, parents? Where is the happy ending which doesn’t have kids in it?

What motivated you to have children? Do you ever wonder what life would be like without kids?

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the muse, the memory, the master

Ok -so uni is back. And this week it was my turn to post a workshop piece on the topic of ‘Nostalgia’.

The reading for the week was a piece by Bruce Chatwin called A Lament for Afghanistan. It was an ok piece. Sadly, I am not a fan of travel writing – am kinda not really a fan of travel itself. But part of this course has a focus on travel writing – being, as it is, a popular genre in creative non-fiction.

Anyhoo – the focus question to do with this reading says: “Chatwin’s memories of his travels in Afghanistan are triggered by thoughts of another travel writer, Robert Byron. Has any writer put you on a journey into your own past? Write about it, weaving your reading into the memory.”

I *knew* what I wanted to write about, but somehow I came out with a garbled piece about nursery rhymes, Enid Blyton and Little Golden Books. Gah!!! And I was running out of time (to say nothing of work deadlines and all that jazz).

Then, in a nice collusion of coincidence and intensity, I reached a point where the piece I wanted to write found its way to the very top of my brain.

The muse is a deadset mysterious thing.

Out it came. A piece about what is possibly my favourite book ever: The Great Gatsby. I could weep at the literary perfection of this classic. I loved it then and I love it now. (I even have the Popular Penguin coffee mug to prove it ;-))

But this is just a short piece, just a taste. I feel there is more as yet unsaid. It will come. When the muse says it is time.

Without further ado…

Of Cocktail Music And First Loves

The yellow cocktail music pulled me in. The words – exquisite, poetic and yet duplicitous – seduced me, while the tragic narrative broke me in two.

And in the protagonist I found myself.

I was fifteen, discovering ‘literature’ after a lifetime of books. It was the year when the whole world was wondering if George Orwell’s dystopian vision would materialise. I was, of course, perilously perched upon the Newspeak/ Doublethink/ Thoughtcrime/ Big Brother ride of the times. Contrarily, Emma thrilled me, because – and this was a surprise – I adored it. Catch-22 felt like a private joke Joseph Heller chose to share with me alone. And John Irving blew my mind when he introduced me to the weird and wonderful world of Garp.

Then came F. Scott Fitzgerald. And I fell truly, madly, deeply in literary love for the first time.

At fifteen – desperate to escape, dreaming so hard the dreams that would be my way out – The Great Gatsby gave breath to my deepest and most tender desires.

Metaphor captured me, made me listen: Her voice was full of money.

As a girl with pretensions to a writing future it hit me in my sweet spot.

And as a girl from a poor family, I got the metaphor on a visceral level. I envied girls with voices like Daisy. I was Jay himself – ridiculously smitten by an untouchable world.

He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

This almost impossible articulation of a transformative love – a love which renders the subject powerless in its wake – sang itself off the page to me with heartbreaking lucidity.

My own first love belonged to that world too. A girl of poetic beauty, whimsical charm and gentle charisma.  Like Jay with Daisy, I never forgot her. She made her way in the world and I watched – West Egg to East Egg – as she transcended. Above. Beyond.

While I waited. Below.

And all the time, beneath my own swirling surface, there burned twin ambitions: to be someone. And to be someone for her. To be worthy.

And then. Slowly I moved forward. Running faster. Stretching my arms out further. Hoping that one fine morning

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on memes and pox

I have no idea what a ‘meme’ is. Please don’t try and explain it to me cos much smarter women and men have tried. I dunno, something like ‘Helen Razer’s a homosexual’ comes to mind for some bizarre reason. Anyhoo. I take it to mean ‘crap people are talking about on teh interwebs’ but what would I know?

However, when I saw that the inimitable Kerri Sackville was writing about chicken pox, I wanted to get me a bit of that pox meme action. So here’s one I prepared earlier (as is my wont on this recycling paradise of a blog). Chicken pox and me have quite the history.

(Is nowhere near as funny as the Sackville one. Not that it’s a competition or anything. ;-))

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

There is officially a pox upon our house. Our six year old son, Levi, has contracted the varicella-zoster virus – or chickenpox to the uninitiated. And, as it happens, Levi and chickenpox go way back.

When I was pregnant with Indy a friend of ours contracted chickenpox. Neither my mum nor I could remember me ever having the virus as a child. Concerned for my little unborn one I rushed off to the doctor where it was discovered that I – like a contestant on Survivor – had immunity. Disaster averted. So when I was pregnant with Levi and my niece came down with the ‘pox, I happily went to visit her – feeling safe that my little passenger and I were protected.

A few months later our boy arrived. When Luke came over for a cuddle he noticed two distinct lines of scarring on our newborn’s cheeks. They looked exactly like preserved blisters. We pointed the scars out to the midwife and in double-quick time the room was full of rather important looking medical people. Levi was promptly whisked down to the neonatal unit and photographed for posterity. The head of the unit brought him back and informed us that, indeed, he had contracted chickenpox in-utero and would have to be examined for brain damage and vision impairment.

On Day Two I took my little guy for a brain scan while Day Three saw a visit from the ophthalmologist. “So what will we have to do?” I asked as he shone lights into Levi’s eyes. “Oh, we won’t be able to do anything,” he said, in rather clipped voice, “We’re just looking to see if he’s blind.” Not quite what you want to hear with a bunch of postnatal hormones running riot in your body.

But our son, while scarred, was born under a lucky star. On Day Four he was cleared of any chickenpox-related damage. As we went home counting our blessings we were warned to keep an eye on him in the future as he could run a remote risk of developing shingles – the reactivation of the varicella virus – rare but not impossible in kids.

So, last week, when one of the kindergarten mums told us that her son had chickenpox I dragged out Levi’s special story for a showing. Unfortunately, the next day the school rang to say that Levi was in sick bay, having become quite distressed at recess because of a ‘tingling head’. It seems his pre-natal exposure had not offered him any protection from his old nemesis.

An urgent trip to our GP eliminated a diagnosis of shingles but confirmed that our friend, Chickenpox, had come for another visit – and this time it was to be a visit of biblical proportions. Behind Levi’s ears, under his arms, on his back, torso and in his groin were a mass of bubbly blisters. He even had them on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, as well as some of the more dangerous ones veering close to his eyes. Over the next few days Levi had two febrile convulsions brought on by a fever of 40+, a ride in an ambulance and a night in hospital. Our poor, sick boy.

Hungry for information, I went to the guru – Google – as is the modern way. It was here that I made a rather disturbing discovery – The Chickenpox Party. In 2005, Shannon Henry wrote an article for The Washington Post titled A Pox on My Child: Cool! The article detailed the idea, held by some, that kids should contract certain illnesses in childhood in order to provide them with immunity in adulthood. It is believed that such illnesses are much more severe if we contract them when we are older.

The chickenpox party starts when one child contracts the pox. Out go the invitations to the gathering. Interested parents bring their offspring to this rather grotesque party and encourage them to eat from the same spoon as the sick child, cuddle up together and even play with the contagious blisters. Sort of like one big, poxy love-in. I’m not one to denigrate the choices of other parents but my little boy is so sick right now that the last thing he wants is a bunch of other kids over to visit, intent on playing Pop the Pox.

In Australia there is a vaccine available for chickenpox. It was not routinely offered until 2004 – two years after Levi was born. I wish it had been. My son is but a shadow of his former, energetic self and his angelic face is almost unrecognisable under the spots. This morning he sobbed when he looked in the mirror and wailed “Why me?” to the gods. I tried to console him by explaining how we sometimes catch things from other people. This just threw him into further distress as he recalled ‘high-fiving’ his best mate before he got sick. “I don’t want him to get it,” he said.

“Well, you will just have to go cross at the boy who gave it to you,” I said, hoping to cheer him up by apportioning blame.

“No,” he cried, with sad eyes, “he’s my friend.”

I wanted to hug him for his generous spirit – but he won’t let me touch him.

Damn you Chickenpox!

Have your kids had any of the so-called ‘childhood illnesses’? How did you cope?

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you love me how much?

Ok, so this blog is a haven for recycled pieces of mine. But that’s because I don’t think a lot of people read them in the first place. This one (slightly revised here to include the word ‘wanker’) appeared on Web Child about a year or so ago, but the mysteries of unconditional love still continue to puzzle and confound me.

You Love Me How Much?

I have long been a naysayer, disbeliever and hardened cynic when it comes to the theory of unconditional love. I have protested belligerently when the topic comes up in conversation – as it is wont to do quite often when parenting is discussed. I have been known to lament the fact that parents are inclined to – and I quote (myself) – ‘worship at the altar of unconditional love’.

I promise I am not being purposefully antagonistic when I take up this particular cause. Instead I like to believe that it is with a sense of philosophical purpose and the pursuit of that most wobbly of abstract nouns – ‘the truth’ –  that I push so fiercely against this idea (although perhaps I’m just being a wanker).

But has this week seen the conversion of the most skeptical of skeptics?

I have often wondered if I have been too strict in my definition of unconditional love. I have taken it to mean that you love (or indeed are loved by) another until the end of your days regardless of anything they do, are, think and say. It sounds impossible and unrealistic.

As a parent unconditional love would mean loving your child if they turn out to be a serial killer, violent paedophile or mass murderer. Could you still love Adolf Hitler if he was your son? What about Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy? What about the Australian woman who killed her lover and boiled his head  – would you still love her if she was your daughter? Recently, the media has reported that Martin Bryant – Australia’s worst mass murderer – is visited in prison by one person – his mother. Such stories seemingly play into the mythology of unconditional maternal love. I am left to wonder if Martin’s mum’s prison visits are really about love or, rather, a sense of duty, pity, guilt or even regret. Of course I hope to never know or understand.

The other side of unconditional love in the parental relationship is the love which is directed at you from your offspring. I have heard many a mum or dad wax lyrical about the sense of being loved unconditionally by their child – particularly when they are babies and toddlers.

Granted, toddlers do have a tendency to run ecstatically towards you when you have been separated from them for a period of time. But then again they also have the tendency to kick their legs, stamp their feet and even head-butt you in the nose if you refuse them any of their fickle desires. Unconditional? I think not.

And then, as kids get older, the battle-weary (i.e. other parents) have tales about nine-year-old daughters screaming, ‘I hate you’ or teenage boys causing the kind of heartache and anguish you would not inflict on a person if your intention was to love unconditionally. With all of these things in mind perhaps you can see why I have been unable to wholeheartedly embrace this particular parenting religion.

I’m sure that I should offer a disclaimer here: so let it be known that I have adored my kids since their conception and can’t imagine life without them.

And I guess I *have* known that they love me back, but I don’t think I have ever felt that they loved me unconditionally (according to my definition). I admit that when they were much younger I definitely felt unconditionally needed – after all, for ten months I was almost exclusively their source of nourishment. And I have also felt unconditionally wanted – the separation anxiety both kids felt when they started childcare was evidence of that. But unconditional love? I don’t think so. At least not until now.

It went like this: Last weekend I had arranged a session with a photographer so that we could get family photos taken. I don’t like to have my photo taken but we have barely a handful of photos of the four of us together so I had to bite the bullet. The day before the photo shoot I bought a new item of make-up. That night, as Indy and I cuddled up to watch a movie she looked at me and said, “Mummy, why do you have so much make-up?”

“Well sweetheart,” I replied – a lifetime of insecurity and issues about my appearance coupled with my simultaneous rage against society’s cult of beauty and my desire not to pass any of that to her, jostled for attention – “Sometimes I just want to look nice.”

With an expression of unguarded honesty Indy looked at me and said, “Mummy, you always look beautiful – even without make-up.” At this stage the cockles of my heart were warmed but my inner cynic was still scoffing. However, the defining moment was yet to come.

Indy continued, “But,” she said as she snuggled in closer , “Maybe you should wear some make-up for the photos – other people mightn’t see you the way I see you.”

With that one sentence I became a believer.

Do you believe in unconditional love?

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memoir & emotional truth

As part of my Masters this year I am doing a course called Creative Non-Fiction. This week we looked at the genre of ‘memoir’. From our notes: “What marks (memoir) from fiction is the claim to truth – what the author believes to be the truth or the emotional truth.”

One of our workshop exercises was to write about a house we lived in as a child.

My first draft was complete and utter crap. And after missing the first week’s class (through no *real* fault of my own) I was determined to redeem myself in the eyes of my teacher.

But it wasn’t going to happen with the nonsense issuing from my pen.

But then…

I went to see Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland. The film aside, Lewis Caroll’s book is one of my top five all time favourites. When it comes to the emotional truth about the absolute trippiness of childhood it’s perfect – and it’s not even a memoir.

Maybe it resonates with me because my own childhood was not a pastel-coloured one. It was considerably darker hued than anything Walt Disney may have conjured up. Dark shadows. Deep holes. Monsters.

Until now I haven’t shared a lot of my childhood in my writing. But, if I want to be a fair dinkum writer, I think I have to try to find some of that emotional truth. To occasionally reveal the wound, raw and weeping, before I put it away again.

So (with thanks to both Lewis and Tim) I wrote this.

The Farm

The farmhouse has an outside toilet. A long tunnel, boring straight down into the earth. Its smell is rancid, septic, the rotten part of being alive: the undertone of pine disinfectant does nothing to disguise its filth. If you dare to look down you see a liquid mass, buzzing with flies, writhing with maggots, ready to swallow you if your tiny bottom slips through the seat. I dread the long walk to the outhouse, but fear even more the longer return with  grotesque shadow-beasts unseen at my back. My five-year-old footsteps break with fleeting hysteria and propel me helter-skelter to the relative safety of the house’s threshold.

But the house itself is no dreamy sanctuary. There are no aromas of hearty soup, or dense teacakes baking in the oven, waiting to be slathered with butter. There is no roaring fire in the hearth. There are no cows for milk or crops for food, and the few malnourished chickens have been killed by the underfed dog. It is but an echo of a farm: run-down, possibly condemned, a charitable hand-out for the family with too many kids, a ne’er-do-well father and nowhere to go.

It is a house of dark disappointments. The barely hidden, yet unintelligible disappointments of the grown-up world: whispered behind doors, screamed in plain view, shamefully aired in public.

And the childhood ones.

The Easter bonnets (cheap cardboard, glitter, cotton wool) are abandoned on this, the last day of term. The car won’t start. Again.

I picture my classmates parading with their own creations, proud, before smiling parents. Parents with cars that go and toilets that flush. In this, my kindergarten year, they are not yet ‘friends’. Never to be friends actually, because I have the wrong lunchbox, the wrong uniform, the wrong family.

Not that it mattered. We left soon after for another school, another house, a new life.

But here, now, I hold my disappointment, keen and burning, close to my chest. My mother does not need more angst today. Impotent and raging, my father has already thundered out the door for the long walk to town. There, he will try to find someone to fix the car.

My big sister – a ferocious eight-year-old veteran of disappointment – is equally devastated. Her Easter bonnet was even better than mine. School prizes of chocolate – chocolate! – retreat back into our dreams, never meant for kids like us anyway.

And so we sit on her bed – a covetous bed built high into the wall. A place to hide, above and away from the sadness, the trouble, the hopelessness. I know I’m lucky to be allowed up there and so I keep quiet, cowed by her older, fiercer anger, her own dramatic and frightening powerlessness. She can’t save us either.

But… proportions.

Mum, at the door now, beckons us.

We’re on her bed now – nay, her bedroom suite: the one good thing she owns, a wedding gift from her parents, with matching wardrobes and dressing table. The top quarter doors of the wardrobes are sliders. Places of grown-up secrets: hurriedly wrapped Christmas presents, abandoned wedding rings, books I shouldn’t read, pictures I shouldn’t see.

But today its secret is sweet. Mum reaches up and brings down two foil-wrapped chocolate rabbits – slated, I realise now, to be delivered in a few days time by the Easter Bunny.

Under  the covers with chocolate – disproportionally sweet, melting, lavish, indulgent, special-occasion chocolate – we, all three, sigh out our sadness and despair. And the recipe for momentary happiness (cocoa, milk, butter, sugar) works its delicious magic.

For now.

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no country for old women

Ok, it’s my birthday on Monday. I am *so* going to rock 41. Can’t wait.

But no-one really cares about 41. Not like they cared about 40.

So here’s one I prepared earlier – like, when I was 39.

But it still works. W.B Yeats gets me every time.

No Country For Old Women

In six and a half months I will turn 40. There, I’ve said it. Am I concerned about this big number? Not in the slightest. Should I be? The answer to that is a little more complicated.

I was the girl who always got asked for ID at nightclubs so I have never really felt my age. My nightclubbing days ended when I had my first child, and I expect that if I put on my party duds now and headed out on the town I would probably be waved (or laughed) through the door without a second glance by every bouncer worth his badge. But I still don’t feel old.

I think I still look the same. Or at least I did until recently. A few weeks ago I was going through some old photos and found one of me at a friend’s wedding about fifteen years ago. It’s one of the few photos that I really like so I proudly displayed it on my desk. “Who’s that, Mum?” asked Indiana pointing to the Ghost of Mummy Past as I scraped my ego from the floor.

Okay, so maybe I do look a little different but I definitely still feel the same. I am as ridiculously healthy as I have always been. I can do everything I used to do except for cartwheels – and that’s just because I don’t have time to practice. But trust the medical profession to rain on my Botox-free parade. It seems all my aging is happening on the inside – I’m a sort of modern, female Dorian Gray.

The first indication of a covert attack by the forces of time – my ruthless nemesis – came after a recent run of miscarriages. I considered myself the random victim of an unexplainable mystery. That is until a kind young doctor thought he was being helpful by giving me the old, “It’s probably your age,” routine. Excuse me? One throwaway line and I had traversed the generation gap.

The second wave came a few weeks ago when I noticed that a certain area in my breast had an ever so faint, niggling pain. Because I have had a lot of pregnancies (eight at last count) my breasts have undergone quite a few changes and I had lost sight of what was ‘normal’. I rang our local BreastScreen provider but – here’s the irony – because I am under 40 I am too young for a free mammogram.

Not prepared to wait until next year, my doctor referred me for a mammogram and ultrasound. It turns out I have a cyst in my breast which is supposedly nothing to worry about. Except for the fact that my Google search revealed that breast cysts usually affect “middle-aged women from 35 upwards.” Excuse me again! Middle- aged! Perhaps I do have something to worry about.

Irish poet William Butler Yeats was the first to declare that this is ‘no country for old men’ in his poem Sailing to Byzantium. And I have to say I was starting to agree with him. The poem declares that:

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick,

Yes, I had started feeling a little paltry what with all this talk about age and getting old.

But I persevered with my friend Yeats. And I believe he has a solution. The next part reads:

unless

And it’s the ‘unless’ that is important.

unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress

There’s my answer.

I invite you all to my Getting Older Party. I’ll be the one in the corner clapping and singing loudly in my tattered mortal party dress.

Do you feel your age? How do you deal with getting older?

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