Saturday, January 30, 2010

Milestones

When I think of the word milestone I recall so many years ago when they really were just that. They were permanent markers made of stone suitably engraved with an inscription of the distance in miles to a major city, usually London in my case and of the closest settlements either side of the marker. They were so permanent, so trustworthy, so important that the name milestone took on a completely new meaning; that of an very important event. It is used by business now to measure their trite happenings and by families to mark major events in their lives.

So it was too with Jack Wilson. In his nineties, all he had time to do now was to remember back over his life and to recall the milestones in his life. One afternoon in the retirement home whilst all the other residents, played their games, snoozed or prattled inconsequentially to their friends, Jack made the effort to remember the milestones in his own life. He wondered whether like Shakespeare he could place the seven ages of the man that he once was and the events that marked them.

So Jack thought about his seven ages. Mewling and puking he certainly did but gladly didn't recall them much, or did he? He cried a lot because his older brother bullied him and even broke an arm once, a fact hidden until his mother noticed he only used his left hand.

Perhaps that counts as the whining schoolboy he thought. No, that's not right he enjoyed school, he certainly was not unwilling to go. He had a lot of friends and loved sport and later was entranced by the girls that a few years previous had seemed so silly. How strange it seems now to recall that thrill of just touching hands with that cute girl when they were both fourteen. What was her name, Glenda, Glenys, Gladys? Perhaps none of those.

Now to Shakespeare's lover. Did he sigh like a furnace? No, his romances were fun, disastrous, sad, and ultimately fulfilling and joyful. No, the bard must have got that wrong. Hang on though, he did remember sighing once when given the heave ho by... by... what was her name? Oh yes, it was Leone. She wasn't a lion she was a tigress!

Now what about the Soldier that was quick to quarrel? Luckily with no conflict at the time of his National Service that period passed as a minor irritant prior to forging his career and starting a family with his beautiful wife. It was great for mateship and putting your trust in others but was he glad when it was all over and be a normal civilian again. Later he found a good job that he enjoyed, how they built their first house, and seemed to achieve so much.

What was this Justice with the round belly as the fifth age that Shakespeare was on about? Jack reckoned his fifth age was the best but without the round belly! With his wife Susan and his children growing up, getting some of their freedom back. Perhaps W.S. was right after all the way the two of them gave advice to the kids, embraced their children's spouses into the family, helped them in their careers, babysat and did things as a little clan of their own. Oh what joy life was then.

I've always been lean thought Jack as he recalled the sixth age of man. He laughed at the slippers and spectacles and the 'shank shrunk.' But then he bit his lip. Yes "his manly voice turning again to a childish treble" certainly did that when Susan passed away and he was lost with little to console him and he bawled like a baby.

Snap out of it you old fool he said to himself you are reverting to childishness, it happens to us all. You lived a wonderful life. A wonderful life. Jack slowly nodded off in his chair.

Some time later one of the helpers came around and found Jack asleep.
"Come on, Mr. Wilson. Oh, look you are drooling and your teeth are coming out. It's cup of tea time. I've got a chocolate Granita biscuit for you"
She touched him gently on the hand, but it fell abruptly off the armrest. She felt for his pulse then quickly returned to the office to report that there was a problem with Mr. Wilson.

13 comments:

  1. Wow, what a story and a life. It kind of sobers me to think I'll look back on my life's milestones. What will I see?
    Winged Writer

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  2. Life is just one milestone after another. Loved your story.

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  3. I loved your story. It makes me want to write my own. I think I'm in the rounded age...working so hard to keep trim but losing the battle.

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  4. A great record of an interesting journey. Thanks for a rally good read.

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  5. I like how you structured this. I've always been comfortable with the idea of growing older, since it beats the only alternative we're given.

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  6. very cool, i love that "Jack Wilson" (nice) kind of sees his life flash before his eyes to the tune of as you like it.

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  7. Phew, it comes to us all, and it's amazing to think that every age or stage of our lives are recorded in our memories.

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  8. A lovely portrait..should have felt gloomy but was strangely lifted by the fact that he had a lot to look back on..Jae (thanks for your visit)

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  9. Lovely. I really enjoyed his fifth age; his comfort and his clan. And then the memory of his sixth age and a goodbye to his wife and then, what seems, a goodbye to all. Very complete.

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  10. At the age of 88 I can certainly relate to this story! Great writing.

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  11. I love how you used the prompt and Shakespeare in this. I'm wondering too, how much is fiction and how much is you. Did your brother break your arm? There is a lovely story here but sadness too. Just like real life.

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  12. It is strange that we can compact and compress our lives into these seven ages like Jack has.

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