Monday, 14 April 2008

94 years in a flash

On Saturday I went with my mother and the two kids to visit my grandfather. It should have been a two and a half hour drive but it took us longer because we stopped for toilets and again for lunch. It was such a long journey but we were still in the Highlands. I forget how vast the region is and how diverse the landscape. We left the mountainous rugged wildness of the west for the flatter, more manicured landscape of the east.

Papa is 94 soon but would pass for 80. His skin is unwrinkled despite his years and more than his fair share of hardship and sadness in his life. He should be a medical mystery as his health is relatively good and he is very old. He was born in a highland croft and reared in a house that was very poor; a stone cottage with a thatch, no water or electricity. Basic survival entailed hard hard work. His diet consists mainly of sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat and a good sprinkling of salt; lots of meat, milk, butter, white bread, jam, cake, potatoes, a few veg and little fruit. His drinks are sugary, stewed tea and full-fat milk. Since turning 80 he has become partial to the odd can of cola. Of course with a diet like that he has false teeth; but he is slim and healthy. The positive aspect of his diet is that it is simple, unprocessed and homemade. Porridge for breakfast and homemade soup. No fancy sauces and no ready meals. Although lately he has become partial to a microwave lasagne!

Papa said he can scarcely believe how old he is and that all those years have just passed in a flash. Imagine that, 94 years in a flash. Perhaps that reveals a life well-lived with people well-loved.

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