This afternoon at our Nomination Whist group, May announces that it is her birthday this coming Friday. She will be 94 years young and celebrates by winning the first of her games with a whopping 140 points, beating Mr
B into second place with just 123 points. Believe me, beating Mr B takes some doing.
I would give a great deal to be like May when I am 94 years old, given that (God willing) I live that long. I love the fact
that, after she has parked outside our house and before she sets off down our garden path, she sits in her car to apply a fresh coat of lipstick. Attagirl, May! I remember watching my dear Mum applying her "lippy" and asking her what it was for. "It brightens
up my face," she told me. It would make a good advertising slogan, don't you think?
May likes to arrive early at Nomination Whist so that she and I can have a natter before everyone else arrives. Today she
tells me about her working days as a nurse and how, the moment anyone hears you are or were a nurse, they insist on coming out with all their ailments in the hope you might have some answers for them. "I always point them in the right direction," May tells
me, sagely. I bet she does.
I ask May what is the secret of her long life. I know Young Faris reckons I have reached a Great Age but compared with May I am a Spring Chicken. Hardly out of the egg, in fact.
So what do you think May said? Was it all about diet and exercise? Leading a stress-free life? Eating fat-free food? Eating fat-laden food? Avoiding sugar? Piling it on? Something to do with multi-vitamins? No, none of these. May's secret to a long life is
quite amazingly simple: wash your hands.
It is, she explains, the only way to avoid infections. May washes her hands at every opportunity, not just the obvious. When she returns home from the supermarket,
she tells me, she unpacks all the packets and tins (no Internet shopping for Our May, not as long as she can get to the shops under her own steam) then washes her hands. You never know who has been handling those packets and tins she warns me, the Light of
Zeal in her eyes. I am impressed, in spite of myself.
When the children of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters were tiny, she introduced what was called "the soap test." After washing their hands before
dinner, for example, they would hold up their hands to be smelt to prove they had used soap, rather than rinsing their fingers under running water. May would have been proud of them.
May is a Gal Who Knows
Her Own Mind. I will long cherish the memory of her accosting the Lib Dem candidate in a local election as he crossed garden paths with her on her way to our front door. He was a pale, gibbering wreck by the time she had finished dishing out her views on Politics
in General. This was, I must point out, nothing to do with the fact that he was a Liberal Democrat. May would have been equally challenging whatever the political party. Unless there was a Wash Your Hands Party which she would doubtless espouse with open arms
I tell Mr B we need to buy May a birthday card for Friday. He says we should make it a rude one - which he revises to merely "cheeky" when he sees my raised eye-brows. He is right, of course;
May loves nothing more than a good laugh. It's why she loves our fortnightly Nomination Whist sessions where there are laughs a-plenty with May leading all the rest. She has always been a bit of a performer, Our May. She shows me a photograph of herself aged
about thirty in some Am-Dram production. She looks stunning.
I can't imagine May in a rest home (she would re-organise the place within days) but many people of her age can't live independently any
more. Every resident of a nursing home, I think, should have on their bedside table a photograph of themselves as a young person, so that the staff looking after them can see the person they are, beneath the ravages of age.
Happy Birthday for Friday, Our May. You are, indeed, a Legend in Your Own Lifetime.