Sharing our dotage with a return to the simple life: opinion

ONE of the most quoted philosophies of the late American radio and television writer and broadcaster Andy Rooney is: “I’ve learnt that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”

I have to confess I know little of Mr Rooney — who died a couple of years ago — but I reckon, as someone who is well on his way to 60 (that sounds so old), he is spot on.

Because once you pass the 50th anniversary of your birth you certainly become more aware of your mortality.

And certain occurrences in your life tend to act as markers or reminders of your age, although I do like the wisdom of the saying that growing old is OK — after all some people don’t get the chance — but don’t ruin it by growing up.

The latest signpost for me was our youngest turning 21.

And while it made me feel very old it was nearly made much worse for The Lioness when it appeared that her male cub was not going to bother having a 21st birthday party.

What he failed to realise was one of a mother’s most sacred goals is to be involved with what has always been seen as an important milestone in a person’s life (the child’s, not the dam’s).

And she did not get much of a chance with The Princess Legend, because her eldest has inherited her mother’s efficiency and competence in all matters and there was just not an opportunity for The Lioness to play any sort of role.

Mothers spend the first 21 years of their children’s lives collecting memorabilia and pictures to embarrass them with at the “big” birthday party, a job made easier these days by PowerPoint presentations and other new-fangled technology.

And in the end it was a great day and the D-Mac was very grateful to his mother for robustly encouraging him to have a party.

But it has since occurred to me that my wife and I are now rapidly approaching the time when we will become empty-nesters, with The Princess Legend having already flown the coop and her younger brother giving it serious consideration.

So, it looks like the bride and I are going to have to spend more time together, enjoying mutual, outdoor pleasures like fishing, entertaining at “Sunday sippers” sessions in our backyard, cooking all our tucker on the barbecue and, during the cooler months, sitting around an open fire and talking about the relevant importance of nothing.

And gardening.

The household head has always had a hankering for growing things and I must admit I have been bitten by the same bug.

I originally thought about it a couple of weeks ago when I was musing on how some of us might have to start looking at a bit of subsistence backyard farming and community bartering to overcome the effects of the federal budget.

But then I realised it would also be a lot of fun.

I remember when I was a kid my late father coming home from work, grabbing a tin of brown sandwiches and sipping away while watering his beloved vegies with a hand-held hose.

It was obvious he found it relaxing and he took great pride in his beans, peas, tomatoes, radishes, onions, potatoes, pumpkin and the other assorted produce of his backyard.

Mind you, he couldn’t crack it with lettuce or celery — but then again, I don’t know anyone who ever has.

Now, I couldn’t care less whether or not our two billy lids ever join us in this endeavour.

But I am hoping they will come and visit and share in the fruits of our labour by helping us consume it.

We were blessed with their presence on Sunday night for dinner and both stayed overnight.

Which made Monday morning a whole lot more pleasant for both The Lioness and myself.

A simple thing, but we can only hope the kids are aware of how much it means to their parents.

And I reckon that goes for just about every mum and dad I know.