Growing Old Gracefully

Mrs Fortuna Esprit


I came here with a British passport. Sixty one, I came here leaving my family behind, even so, I came here on my own. So when Dominica went independent, we are no longer British. So I had to apply for my citizenship so that I can became British again.  

Grow old gracefully, this is what I am: eighty two, I will be eighty three in October this year. I don’t mind getting old. Right now though, I should be enjoying myself, go on holiday, visit my family, visit people. Go America, go Canada, go America. Not even London I can go now. Not even London I can catch a train and go and visit my family, my people.  I can hardly do nothing.  Never mind the diabetes, that I can cope with, but that back pain it’s too bad.  

Me and my son, the other day we were talking about old age and illness and all that I said to him, with my generation our parent was depending for us to look after them. You know, support them when they get old, but now I cannot see that happening. Look, that was case; I can’t see the way life is in this country.  Everybody is so busy. It’s like people have no time for people.   As long as you are well appreciated in your old age, you know. That’s the main thing. 

Things are now people going into a home, or in hospital uh every kind of treatment they are getting no respect and all that, you know. But I believe it’s because of money too, you know. Lots of people are working very hard and it’s a big responsibility or a lot of responsibility. Only last week they were saying about how many hundreds of people that died in a hospital. They leave them just to die in their own excrement, their own urine. Die of thirst. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me. No. I would like people to treat me with respect if I go into hospital. I don’t want nobody to treat me bad. Very nice, polite, and a paper, and a cup of tea. Be nice to somebody, gentle, very nice, a very nice gentle way. Not rough or criticise you know because one is black, because one’s religion. All these things are happening. It’s in my mind all the time. I looked at it. Sometimes I would say, let me bring one of my family, my people here and I never know what going to happen you know. But I would prefer to have my family looking after me than somebody which I don’t know. But if someone have to come in and do what they have to do that’s how it have to be and how it have to be. The government is of no help. They are making things worse. Especially with all these cuts that is going there. With me getting a little pension they are taking a pound, two pounds from it. Now it looks as if they are trying to make me pay council tax on a pension which I can’t actually live on.  With illness, um, I was exempt asking me to pay in post office. I can hardly walk. (Laughs)  I’m not afraid of changes but if it is good, I don’t mind, but if it is not good, I don’t like it. (Laughs).