With the exception of January, some old school friends meet for lunch at a restaurant in Carlton on the third Thursday of the month. This activity has been going on for many years. At my first lunch in March 2010, I was somewhat surprised to find that I had not seen 16 of the 20 attendees since 1952. It was a rather strange feeling to look at each person and to then focus my memory on their youthful images. Nowadays the average attendance is about 8. It is agreed that we don’t discuss politics, religion, or health (the group is interested in who is sick and the progress their treatment rather than digressing into talking about health in general).
In receiving an invitation to attend a lunch I was a bit apprehensive in accepting as I am not keen to mix with groups greater than six people. My preference is to engage in a meaningful, interactive conversation with a small group rather than to have a disjointed conversation with a large group. The latter situation results in me being bored, and what is more I find it disturbing to cope with the cacophony of voices which seem to get louder and louder.
Today there were five attendees. Upon settling down with drinks and a bowl of fries, Jim announced that he had been diagnosed with being in the early stages of dementia. This news triggered off a conversation in which we shared our knowledge of dementia, and Jim explained its short-term effects. Since my involvement with the group we have witnessed two of the group affected by dementia; one has died and one is in a nursing home. It goes without saying that the group will support Jim as he endeavours to cope with the different stages of dementia.
The ages of the group range from 78 to 81. Thus, it is to be expected that there will come a time when a member of the group will announce that he is having to contend with a serious illness; two of today’s absentees are in this category.
Jim’s announcement is a reminder of the need to give thanks for being blessed with the gift of life. Life is a risk, more so now that we are hovering around 80 years of age: we are well and truly seated in god’s waiting room. Our challenge is to live each day to its fullest, and to temper this enthusiasm with the need to better understand the ageing process.
I really enjoyed today’s animated and, at times, humourous conversation. I left the restaurant in high spirits.