That is of course a complete and total exaggeration.
I have however been made to feel completely physically inadequate. In size, shape, strength and stamina. I turned into my mother. I needed help from my son and I panicked for a moment that I was going to be totally stuck and need outside assistance and I was already considering being ridiculed as an unfit helpless tourist who couldn’t walk up a hill without help. I had a moment when everything stopped. I couldn’t go up and I couldn’t go down.
We were climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. A bare 251m above sea level it’s a nice amble for the locals, an occasion to take the dog out for a walk. Most of it is just a gentle walk with some steeper bits but naturally my children wanted to go up the very steep ascents. I let them do the final ascent on their own while I went round the gentler path. I still tripped up and kept pausing to look at the view, otherwise known as catching my breath. And I needed to catch it as I was struggling. It was a good thing that my hay fever and all side effects are minimised when I’m away from home or I wouldn’t have made it to the top at all. Eventually I did only to be told that I was slow and needed to exercise more. 3son told me that the Wii was insufficient and I needed to go for walks and drink less beer. Thanks.
Then of course, we had to start down again. 3son decided to take us on a steep descent. I did say I wasn’t starting down unless there was a proper path. There was but there was a bit of a steep slide that just stopped me in my tracks. I was scared. I was angry that I was scared but I was scared. The steep paths and steps in the town of Edinburgh had already made my knees ache and I was well aware that I didn’t have the rapid reactions that I used to have that I would need to stop me falling. 3son and 4son were running around the rocks and slopes like they were children without a care in the world and without a sense of their own immortality. I remembered being like them and it was a while back. I thought of my mother, and those occasions when we used to go on walks when I would scamper over bits and my father would gently help my mother, sometimes needlessly but always with care. I would feel contemptuous. Now the tables were turned.
I had always feared turning into my mother, on a physical level at least. Someone who worried about her appearance, was constantly on a diet (none of which ever worked) and who lost her vitality. As she passed into her seventies she gained a stick and started walking shorter distances but she still leads her walking group, although she moved from the fast walkers to the slower ones.
I eventually, with 4son’s attention and guiding hand made it down that very short steep slippery slope onto a path that became a jacob’s ladder, steep but safe. My legs had turned to jelly by the time we got to the bottom. I was also very please d that I had been sensible and brought trainers to change into as when I first slipped I was in flipflops which were inadequate for the final ascent and really would have been dangerous and stupid to stay in.
As we walked home (via a restorative pub lunch) I contemplated my options. I could indeed drink less beer, although I cut down substantially last year and 3son really has no clue how much/little I drink. I could make sure I do my Wii exercise the recommended 2 days out of 3 rather than less often. I could do it for longer and therefore make change faster. I could learn to eat less. I could make sure I go for short and long walks regularly. I could learn to look after my body in the way I theoretically want to but aren’t actually very competent at doing so.
Holidays are always an opportunity for reflection. This brief moment has triggered a very emotional and physical response.