He'd let things – people, events or objects - pass by around him without so much as a nod of the head but, get too close and he’d clump you round the legs with his solid oak walking stick. His aim can be a bit hit and miss; sometimes all you’ll be left with is a purple bruise that will fade quickly, but at other times you’ll be dealt a blow so cruel it can leave you reeling for months, maybe even years.
Yes, time is definitely something that is so easy to take for granted, to overlook any potential for danger until it’s too late and you’ve got the scars (whether they’re emotional or physical) to prove it. This has happened to me recently. In the last week I’ve been given a metaphorical clump around the head and it’s made me realise that no-one is immune to the advances of time. 'Old Man Time' may be old but he catches up with everyone in the end.
I've been thinking about the issue of mortality lately because I recently received some news about my Nan. She is a jolly 86-year-old who will hopefully still be with us for many more years yet. She is a lovely lady who depends on her husband, my Grandad, who she's been married to for around 60 years (I hope my marriage goes the distance like that). She lives for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But, she has been ill recently and has needed some professional care to help her recuperate and get her back on her feet. Nothing serious has happened but this has given me a jolt of realisation that my grandparents are getting older, that they won’t be around forever. And that scares me.
I’ve known these two people - my Nan and Grandad - my whole life. They have cared for me, spoiled me, encouraged me...loved me. The naivety of youth allowed me to envelop all of my loved ones in a cloak of invincibility but, now I’m getting older and especially since having children of my own, I’m becoming increasingly aware of the passage of time, how fragile things become and how you need to grasp hold of these things and make the most of them while you still can. Before those things you hold dear begin to crumble and fade.
My life has ended up taking me away from my family. Nearly 300 miles away to be precise. It's time like this when I wish I lived closer and could do more to help and support those who need it. But, I can't. I have to make do with snatched weekends away now and again. It's not perfect but it's all I can do.
I'm lucky that I've only experienced grief a handful of times in my life and never was this linked to close family members. I have been fortunate not to have experienced the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking grief that I imagine turns up on your doorstep as an unwelcome house guest once a much loved relative passes away. However, I'm growing increasingly aware that this could be around the corner for me at any time.
Maybe some of this is because my birthday isn't too far away. It's not tomorrow or in the next week or so but still, it's getting closer all the time. I'll be one year older. It'll be another year past. We're all getting older and something I'm definitely understanding now is that time waits for no man. We need to make it count while we can.
So, let's raise our glasses. Here's to making it count.