I’m with my father. He’s very old and frail. It’s still startling to see how much power he’s lost, each first time I see him. I took him out of the hospital to a fashionable restaurant in an expensive sea-side township.
Also, there were the boys in board shorts chasing them, and richer middle-aged men chasing both. I don’t think anyone there had ever seen an actual old person before.
I felt, noticing the shocked glances of the girls, that by bringing Dad there I’d introduced a memento mori into the scene, like the dancing skeleton among the beautiful young women in a Medieval painting.
I’m afraid I thought their shock was funny, just like those grinning skeletons did. People used to socialise outside of their own age group more, with courting couples and their aunts’ babies all at the same table. And old people. Now they don’t mingle so much: people the media would call attractive only mingle with other people the media would call attractive. It’s not their fault that they’ve been segregated from the very young and the very old, but it is silly. They’re impoverished, in human terms, because of it.
I hadn’t thought about that aspect of, oh, life, when I chose the restaurant. I’d just wanted to take my Dad somewhere nice, near where he used to live with my mother. He’s been one year and a fortnight without her, since she died. So I thought the shock of the old was interesting, but I didn’t worry about it. And my father didn’t notice.
I could see him remembering my mother, his wife, and his eyes filled with tears. So I hugged him, told him I loved him, and bought him a glass of champagne.
I’ll tell you a bit more tomorrow.