THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Trying to make it to 70
My apologies for being absent two Sundays in a row, especially to those who, when I was missing for the second time, assumed that something might have been wrong health-wise or that I might have been heading for the other side.
Words cannot express how unbelievably busy I was during that period but, nevertheless, I appreciate the effort of those who miraculously managed to get through the ocean of calls that all but drowned me every minute of the day in order to ask things like,” Al, you alright?” or to offer advice like, “Al, do what you have to do but don’t push yourself too hard.”
Those relatives, friends and associates, as well as people who admitted that they didn’t know me personally, mostly expressed concern for my well-being and one man even told me he wanted me to live to be 120 and admonished me about doing anything that would deprive me of that achievement.
Well he set me thinking about what has become the main focus of my attention every Sunday morning, namely the obituary pages in the newspaper in order to see who “gone long” that I might have known during the course of my life as well as other persons of interest for one reason or another.
In so doing I have been noticing that just as many and sometimes more men and women under the age of 50 can be found on those pages than men and women over the much quoted biblical life span of threescore and ten (70 years).
By the way, the full Old Testament verse at Psalms 90:10 actually states: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (80), yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
The big question, therefore, has to do with why so many young people in Barbados are dying off so long before reaching that 70-year marker. On the other side of the fence, why are so many old people living so long years past the 80-year one without being cut off and flying away, as evidenced by the almost daily celebration by yet another hitting the 100 mark?
The irony is that on the young side, the food they eat takes much of the blame for their early demise while on the old side the food they ate gets much of the praise for the longevity. One of my medical friends like Sir Henry or Sir Trevor will more than likely solve that puzzle for me.
I once wrote a column expressing a desire to experience attaining that magical age of 100 years but these days I am not so sure about that anymore and will give you the reasons in another column.
Back to those long livers who fly away in their late 70s, 80s and 90s. I often notice that when I look at the photograph accompanying their obituaries it is impossible to believe that they really died at such advanced ages. The reason is that the text not only gives the date of the deceased’s birth but also the exact age at the point of death. But the photograph of the person is one which was obviously taken when he or she was in their 20s or 30.
Don’t they realise that nobody at 80-something has anybody around who can remember what they looked like at 20- or 30-something?
And I am taking this opportunity to plead and beseech my kith and kin not to do anything like that to me when my time comes to fly away.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.