I was recently reading a friend's calendar on the back of her toilet door and I realised that she (and myself) are moving in friendship circles that are lapping at the edge of those of my parents. My parents I should point out have reached that tragic time in their lives when, at ages 90 and 95, have outlived all of their families and almost all their friends. It's a bitter sweet victory of sorts.
But I digress. Because there on that haphazard calendar were all the friend's birthdays, dutifully recorded, and alongside the names were the ages, most starting with a six, seven and even an eight.
Perhaps the impact may have been lessened if another friend (who I suspect is revelling in her younger age) had made a throw away comment just the night before. (Perhaps too, alternative reading material may also have proved a useful distraction.)
The comment made was in response to an earlier column of mine where I mentioned that my social life was currently revolving around the babysitting duties of myself and my friendship circle. We regularly find it difficult to find a time when we are all unencumbered sufficiently to meet up (and talk coincidentally about said grandchildren).
If it is not the babysitting that fills in our time, it is a myriad of groups involving various sports (mostly of a fairly sedentary nature), crafts, games and morning and afternoon teas. It appears my friends are all "joiners" or at least, keen to pursue their passions into their twilight years.
Quite smugly, this friend told me that I would probably have my freedom restored in about 15 years. She said this with some authority, which made me wonder whether she too shared grandparent status, although her unlined face and cheery nature made me believe otherwise.
I joked with her that in 15 years, my social life might head the way of my parents who would always check the funeral notices before they planned their weekly activities. My mother in particular is a great reader of the classifieds and I have been regaled with births, deaths and marriages over breakfast since childhood. But this diligent checking has taken this to a new and sorry level.
I spoke of a similar future with a laugh in my voice, but on reflection, it may well be the obituary writers who have the last laugh.