The frequency of “if I’d only known” being murmured under my breath is much greater with every passing year. Then you count the months, till the time to count down the days comes. Some feel it’s better to die from a heart attack. “No suffering” they say. It’s just a few moments of your life flashing before your eyes. Then, hopefully, Nirvana. Or St. Peter at some austerity-downsized pearly gates.
We should always take our mother’s advice. Without exception. Everything starts unraveling at 40. Your doctor visits are more frequent. Your mother’s stories are coming true. And the end, unexpectedly, suddenly and sullenly, can be seen like a not-so-distant fork on the road. And then you stop thinking of what choices that fork may give. You dread choosing the wrong one. You often wake up in a cold sweat thinking of the inevitable.
You downgrade expectations and start making bucket lists. You need to travel to all those places you haven’t gotten around to. You need to dress better to attract the young girls who love the slightly creepy looking daddy figure. You aim hard, day and night, to get more money. More ideas. You learn the art of seduction. You become more clever. And you lose your ethics and high standards because they’ve gotten you to here. And here is not the best place in the world.
You gain control. You splurge. You remember mother telling you that it would be exactly like this had you not listened to her. You care for yourself more. You become slightly psychopathic towards people outside your family and immediate circle. You become a metrosexual. You do every medical test available and then some, just to make sure nothing will prevent you from achieving your goals. But you leave out the colonoscopy. You’re just not ready for that one yet. And besides, you’d have to be in big pain for it to be serious in any way. Right? Don’t answer. It doesn’t matter. You somehow wish Thai food were not so greasy and spicy. Why do they think everyone has the digestive system of a 20-year-old?
You slowly realize that this is ludicrous. You’re driving yourself mad.
Later, you realize you’ve achieved some things. You’re now almost 70. You don’t own a yacht, but you know people who do. You’re happy with a steady young mistress. Everyone knows but says nothing. Your medicines are keeping you in good health and your steady walks on the beach keep you in good shape. And you know you’re lucky. The thought of bed pans no longer gives you a panic attack. It only gives you a momentary face twitch until you think about the young one yet know you only love the old one. That’s the one who looks the best. The other is a distraction. Something to make you feel good. Momentarily. Yet she’s indispensable.
You no longer look creepy. You are lucky. You have a bit more than those old men in government housing. Or the infirm. The lonely. You got through the crises of life and are ready. Unafraid.
Make bucket lists early. And as mother said “don’t live to regret.”