Sunday, 16 June 2013

Growing old is not for sissies

Growing old is not for sissies
16 June 2013

Growing old is not for sissies.  It really isn't.  And I'm not talking about growing old as in the odd grey hair and wrinkle appearing.  I'm talking about REALLY growing old.  As in geriatric old.

I am blessed enough to have three grandparents.  Four, if you count my step-grandfather.  All of them in their eighties.  And funny enough, all of them rather spritely for their age.  Active and busy. Mostly healthy too.

But something has been made ever so blatantly clear, just last week.  Apart from the obvious physical fragility that is expected and the norm with growing old, there are some other awful home truths too.  Control is yielded.  Sacrifices have to be made.  Changes are inevitable and hard to accept.

One of my Ouma Helene's longest, oldest and dearest friends, has decided, at 89 years of age, to move into an old age home.  It’s pretty inevitable, and actually all things considered she's been very fortunate to live in her home all this time.  Her health has been ailing, but she's got family living with her, as well as a fabulous domestic worker who helps her.  Still, having made the decision to down-scale, she now has to pack up her home of over 40 years.  Can you just imagine the mammoth task?

A lifetime's treasures, lovingly collected, has to be divided amongst children and grandchildren. Beautiful antique furniture, magnificent artworks and paintings, priceless trinkets and ornaments. All split up.  Glorious things one and all.  As for herself, she can take but a handful of things with her, due to space restrictions.  I can only imagine how heart sore it must be to decide what to take and what to leave.  Especially if you are sentimental and attached to your beautiful things.

I had the pleasure of being invited with my camera to record the house as is, before things are divided up.  Already many beautiful treasures have been allocated and given to kids and grandkids. Disassembling a life time's collection.

I would imagine that she will feel rather lost and lonely.  Even at a lost for the first while, until she's settled into her new lifestyle and made peace with her diminished space and possessions. Furthermore, I would imagine that it will be a huge adjustment for her family too.  An acceptance of time not standing still and the status quo being changed forever more.  Never to go back again.  The end of an era and the dawn of a new age.

I am fearful of the same happening to my own grandparents soon.  Their home has always been a haven.  A much cherished and loved home, filled with awesome memories.  It has been a consistent, stable presence.  Always there.  I was brought home to Cloetenberg straight from the Hospital after being born.  It is rock solid and dependable.  As constant as the dawning of each brand new day.

Beautiful.  Magnificent.  Glorious.  Breath taking.  Precious.  I can't imagine Cloetenberg, filled with my grandparents and all of her treasures not being there anymore one day.

Growing old is not for sissies at all.  Growing up neither.  And so we should enjoy every day.  Savour the abundance of beauty.  Because one is never quite sure for how long you’ve still got it.

Carpe Diem!

Magnificent gleaming copper collection

A cold wet winter's day and the firing is glowing warm

The sitting room

The grandfather clock, easy chair and copper treasures, right next to the fireplace

Another view of the lounge

A golden treasure - one of my Dad's paintings - so glad I got the opportunity to photograph it for posterity

Too beautiful!  All photo's were taken at Ouma Helene's friend's house.


  1. Shame, it must be the hardest thing to do, packing up everything that defined you and giving it away, but I hope she finds peace and happiness in her new home.

  2. Makes you realise, its not the things that fill the home that's important, its the love that makes it all worth wile. It has always been a special home , open to all, every single one of her grandchildren 11 of us in total have lived with her at some stage of our lives (bless her heart, it generally was over the teenager period) and Helene as you mentioned "As constant as the dawning of each brand new day" , this is an end of a chapter that makes us all extremely heart sore and we are going to miss her beautiful home filled with all the beautiful things that she did so lovingly collect over all her precious years. The beautiful memories will live forever. Love you my special, darling Ouma. xxxx Jayne