Ageing for Beginners
My beloved father Victor would have been a keen Blogger. He loved writing articles, and in 1996 self-published a small book of his writings called “The Wind at my Back”. One of his 1st chapters was entitled “Ageing for Beginners” and as he believed, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, I happily follow in his inspiring footsteps.
Welcome to my Blog. My goal is to source latest information on health and nutrition, share fresh research on the importance of exercise on the ageing brain. In addition I aim to recommend books on Neuroplasticity and share insights from leaders in the personal development field. All of this continues to inspire and challenge me; I hope it will do the same for you.
Re-reading “The Wind at my Back” and looking at this photo has made me reflect on my father’s impact in my life in a whole new way.
He passed away in 2002 aged 87, after a long life well lived. His regular reminders to his children that “the world is our oyster” was something he took advantage of himself.
Born into a poor but loving and supportive family in the East End of London, he grew up sharing a bedroom with 3 brothers and left school at 14 to earn his first wage. His earliest influence was his sister Norah, a local librarian, who introduced him to opera, ballet, great theatre and a life of learning and opportunity. Unlike his 3 brothers who never moved from East Ham, he took Shakespeare’s words: “the world’s mine oyster” and lived and traveled around the world.
Surviving the Second World War, despite being sunk in the Atlantic during his time in the Navy, he got into politics and then with his first marriage into property, where he built his fortune.
Sadly losing his first wife in childbirth leaving behind 2 small children, he later met and married my mother Olivia, the daughter of an Irish peer and they shared 47 happy years together.
The older I get, the more surprisingly aware I become of how like my father I am. During my childhood, growing up in a very loving and positive home, I would have described myself as being closer to my mother, but from my father definitely came my love of music and movement.
Music was a big love in his life, from being a self-confessed morning bathroom baritone to enjoying an evening whisky before dinner, listening to the classics, opera, or My Fair Lady; it feels that there was always music in the home.
When I started preparing playlists for Ageless Grace classes, I realized just how many of the opera classics, Broadway musicals and Sinatra Rat Pack music were familiar to me.
We learnt all the childhood classic songs like “ There’s a hole in my bucket” or Loch Lomond’s ”you take the high road” from weekend walks in the forest or long car journeys.
He was supportive of his children’s interest in modern music, he didn’t particularly like our choice of The Beatles or Bob Dylan but he took us every Saturday to buy our first singles and actively encouraged our musical appreciation, for which I am forever grateful.
He acknowledged that he was often guilty of plagiarism, another reason he would have loved the Internet and the opportunity to Google quotes and give credit where credit was due, in his introduction to his book, he wrote the following, which so perfectly reflects who he was:
“All of us are shaped, at least in part, by the thinking and writing of others. I have acknowledged many sources, others have become so much a part of me that where they end and I begin is lost. A little of each of them has become the whole of me. At the end of the day, to have repotted ‘other men’s flowers’ has been a privilege that leaves me the richer, and I trust in no way diminishes them”
In his Ageing for Beginners chapter he reflects on what it was to turn 65 and enter the golden age of man, the age at which Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. My father saw this period of his life to make a difference in the world, and became actively involved with The Hunger Project, an organization committed to the end of World Hunger. He developed the Forget me Not Appeal, and created a unique system of fund raising sending birthday letters and a packet of seeds to politicians and celebrities using Debrett’s as his resource. Oh what fun he could have had with the Internet and how many more people could he have reached.
He would remind us that to whom much is given, much is expected and he was a true example of the myriad ways you can make a difference in the life of others.
My copy of his book was signed by the author to his “favourite youngest daughter”. He had a wonderful way of making each of us feel special, and his personal wording to his favourite eldest, middle or youngest daughter, made us all feel equally important in his life.
His enthusiastic energy and Joie de vivre, combined with the worrier Pisces made him a fascinating character, a life worth emulating and a person to honour, all of which makes me proud to be my father’s daughter and to age as gracefully as he did.