It has been an odd weekend, one way or the other. At 8.15 on Saturday morning I was meeting my brother outside of the hospital to go in and see my Nan. We – and when I say we, I mean my brother – had received a message from my aunt that an operation my Nan had been given on the previous Monday – which we knew nothing about- had been unsuccessful. Euphemisms like ‘being made comfortable’ and ‘ a matter of time were bandied about. Basically ‘go visit your Nan, she is going to die soon’. I have often said I wanted to live to 92, and that is the age my Nan is now.
“I’ve had a good life” she told me. “But I doubt I’ll be leaving here” After a few moments silence, she mused “I’ve got top’s hung up in the wardrobe I have never even worn, still got the labels on. Wonder if the receipt is somewhere, one of the girls could take them back.”
As her life draws to an end, my Nan pondered whether she had left her heating on back home; back in the little bungalow she would never be seeing again…
Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
I leave my house at about 6.30 every morning (it’s fine, there are 4 other people there, I am not advertising my empty home!) I leave with the full, though not promised, expectation, that at some point later that day, I will return. The dishes will no doubt still be there, as will the laundry and the bins that need taking out ; all will be as I left it. So, listening to my Nan talk about all of the things left undone at home really pulled me up short. If I were hit by a bus tomorrow, there is nothing I could do about it and all of the things I had planned would be gone, in an instant. But imagine if you were rushed to hospital and told, you just have to wait. All that time to consider what you have left undone and will never get to finish. What regrets would you have? How do you fill that time?
This news comes as I approach a particularly unusual milestone birthday. This month I turn 42, the age my other grandmother was when she died. I never met my Mum’s Mum, she died at Christmas in 1962 when my Mother was only nine years old, yet when we have spoken of her since, I have always thought of her as ‘Nan’. Her death was attributed to asthma, and as someone who is also diagnosed with the illness, I am annoyed by how it is often written off as unfitness (was literally told this by a doctor) and how we have to pay out for inhalers, despite needing them. It is still a killer. As you can imagine, when my Mum approached her 42nd birthday she became very paranoid that history would repeat itself; despite being well into her sixties now and 12 years clear of cancer, she still has her “I won’t make old bones” moments. Once she was given an inhaler and told she was asthmatic, but she refused to believe it and threw it away – she has never had any trouble with her lungs since. (Don’t get me started on doctors handing out Ventolin inhalers to all and sundry with the slightest wheeze!)
And so now, I advance towards 42, I am pondering all of the things I have planned over the next eight years on my Kettle List, and how I would feel I didn’t get to do any of them. I realise that I have only officially ticked off one item #14 visit Japan – Although I am declaring #38 Volunteer for 50 + hours as complete, I just need to write it up.
What if I end up with a list of items that I never achieve? I am not really sure at the moment how I would feel about that. All I can do for now is press on and try and get as much done as I can. To that end I have put down a deposit on a TEFL Level 5 course, which I hope to complete by the end of the year. This will move me one step closer to #33 Teach Abroad (Yes, I finally just added it to the Kettle List, seemed appropriate).
I also intend to get on with some more paper folding for the #40 Make 1000 origami cranes task. The planning for our trip to L.A has also stepped up a gear, with Hannah daily providing highly unsuitable suggestions for things she would like to do when we get there. I feel we may need to update our passports as they run out next March and we need at least 6 months on them. If we send all three off in June Hannah can upgrade to an adult passport – and finally be rid of her 13 year old photo. The thought that my youngest daughter will be 18 is also fairly sobering, and enough to make me press on with my plans, when I feel like just vegging in front of Netflix
Maybe, the lesson I should have learned from this weekend was not to plan too far ahead, as you never know what is around the corner, but if I do make it to 92, like my Nan, and I end my days sat in a hospital waiting out my time, I would like to have some great memories to look back on, and to be able to honestly tell my grandchildren that I have no regrets…except perhaps wish that I hadn’t bought as many clothes, like my old Nan does!