Saturday, 18 August 2007

As Time Goes on

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When I first saw this photo, taken in the office last Friday, I thought no, that cannot be me. We had the day off on Thursday for Ascension day, as did most of Europe (with the exception of the British - they have their Bank holidays) and there were only 3 of us in our department, so we made a couple of photos.

After getting over the initial shock of seeing a grey haired lady working on a computer and realising it was me, I remembered that I really do only have three years and seven months to go before I enter the eternal pension grounds. Actually originally it would have been only one year and seven months, but the Swiss voters and government decided it would be a better idea if we women all worked until we were 64 years old to save some pension money. Irrespective of our psychological and physical condition at this age we had to accept the hard facts. I said goodbye to many female colleagues as they left with a smile on their face at the age of 62 telling us "youngsters" it will go quicker than you think. Basically I have not had much time to think, although I may be in the grey ages I am still functioning as usualDespite the fact that all joints ache when you arise in the morning at six to be in time for work at seven, and things just do not seem to happen as quickly as they used to, I arrive in the office ready to go. In the last years the magnification on my glasses has increased (everyone says blame it on the computer, I blame it on my age), I managed to get tennis arm (not from playing tennis, those days are long gone, but from the computer of course) and now and again especially after lunch my thoughts go to my hubby at home - retired already for a couple of years - how he is relaxing and taking it easy for an hour or so, before he gets down to his houseman work.

Although I have become a somewhat grey eminence in the office (ask her, she has been here so long she knows how it works), I do notice that I can no longer join in conversations about where did you go on Saturday evening, I met so and so with his new girlfriend, or what about coming to the Stones concert in Zürich with me. My subjects of conversation seem more to be the price of meat, whether the local supermarket is still open when we have finished at work and did you see a certain film or sitcom on the tv yesterday evening. Luckily I do have one colleague in my office, a youngster in comparison, but in 5 years she will also be as far as I am today.

One of my reponsibilities is looking after our apprentice (probably because of the maternal advice I can offer). Actually I do get on very well with the youngsters, I just notice that their parents used to be at least 5 years old that me, today I can be glad if I am not more than five years older that they are.

Nevertheless, I can look forward to my days of retirement, doing things I always wanted to do. Going for walks, joining in with the village senior citizen gymnastic group and once a year taking part in the annual old people's excursion. I can even join a senior citizen club. In Germany they now have playgrounds for the elderly. In the newspaper Berliner Morgenpost I read an article by Bernd Philipp about playgrounds for the elderly in Germany. For those not being able to read or understand German, I did a translation

"The Playground for Senior Citizens is my oasis
Life for senior citizens can only get better and offers more and more diversications. In Preussenpark in Wilmersdorf there is the first playground for pensioners. Of course, I had to go and try it out.

Luckily no-one inspected my permit to check on my age. In any case I look a bit older and could easy seem to be a senior citizen. I have never forgot the colleagues that asked me (born 1950) “Tell me Bernd, where was you in the last days of the war? Or was you already a POW?” One way or the other one should not be resentful.

In any case at the grandmother and grandfather playground there was some very nice equipment to use for tuning up the circulation and the muscles, also for the joints. (Overheard:” my doctor said my joints are my Achilles heel”)

I quickly found contact and spoke with a few girls and boys at the playground. For example Barbara, she is 71 years old, good in form and here every day, quite early in the morning, because it is then quite empty. Then she goes with her car to the Grunewald lake to do some jogging. “Do you want to come too?” she asked me. I acted a bit bashful and told her “Actually I would like to but my mum won’t let ms go out with strange women ….”

Barbara laughed and told her two fellow gymnastic friends Regine (78 and Charlotte (81). The last of the two called to me “come again tomorrow, amusing men are always welcome.” I then said a polite goodbye and just wanted to go when a very resolute man with his camera came over to me and said “Grandad, be a nice person and go to the ladies, I am a photographer and work for various newspapers……”

Stupid as I am I did him the favour. Now I fight through the newspaper world every day and hope that I cannot be recognised on the photo. I already imagine Susi Super would react …. Something like “it is so nice for you to meet such wonderful people. Bring your new friends home ….” And if the newspaper article would appear with my photo Max would probably say “Dad you are really pitiful. Everyone is laughing at me at school - my dad at a playground.”

My son should be quiet. When I think of the tortured hours I spent with him when he was younger at the playground - a nightmare. Whilst he produced sand castles at an almost mechanical rate, only to destroy them one after the other, I was exposed to the verbal garbage of the younger mothers and fathers.

“Our Balthasar could say the alphabet backwards when he was four years old!”
“Just imagine Mechthild-Rosanna likes spinach most of all. Unbelievable. You can see she is different to the others.”
“As soon as he is 3 years old Friedrich will be in a course “English for beginners”.
“My husband was very comfortable in Irma’s crawling group. But he was the only man in the group……..”
“Our Penelope would love to have a sister. She said recently “Please no brother mum, I would throw him away” Isn’t that sweet?”

No, children’s playgrounds are not sweet. The senior playground in comparison – an oasis.

Now the insurance companies can slowly stop sending every 2 months offers for life insurance. Now I received an offer that was declared as an “Application for a life death insurance”. A life death insurance – that sounds funny, but is actually true when you think about it. The insurance company have already completed one for me. Actually I just have to pay monthly and then die. What makes me a bit nervous about this new attack from the insurance company is that on the envelope the words “express documents, to be dealt with at once” stand. What will happen next?"

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