Recently, when the doctor suggested Vitamin D tablets for bone density, he asked me what flavour I’d like.
“Sorry?” I was still coming to terms with having not-dense bones and wasn’t ready to move on. But, you know, they only have ten minutes…
“Well, they come in two flavours.” He paused a bit embarrassed, “Lemon and…tutti frutti.”
The way he said tutti frutti was interesting. It was as if his mouth hadn’t been trained for those words and his lips were feeling self-conscious. They were used to saying things like osteopenia or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory at high speed, when the rest of us go all red and rubber-lipped. But we clearly have the upper hand when it comes to fruit flavours.
“Can you say them again?” This was not unkind but necessary, due to the lip scrutiny, after which I’d forgotten the choice.
He cleared his throat, “Lemon or, er, tutti-frutti.”
“Oh well, ” I said cheerfully, “I think I’ll go for the tutti frutti please!”
I’ve been taking them for a few months now and am grateful not only because my bones will be denser but also tutti frutti flavoured. Good to know. In case you need to eat me.
Hopefully that won’t happen any time soon. But I have been (weirdly) thinking that most of us probably do have a flavour and this can seep out of us, often without our knowledge or permission – warm or grumpy or funny or preoccupied or kind. And the flavours can change with the years. I think I used to be more trusting than I am now, automatically seeing the best in people. These days I can be suspicious. What do you mean, you disagree? What are you after?!?
I don’t want to be that older person who is critical or patronising or rude, looking down on the young and rolling my eyes all the time. I don’t want to be bitter and resentful because most of my life is over. I believe there is better to come. Also, I want to hang onto my younger friends and laugh and remember how to be hopeful and brave, how to have adventures. I have some great role models, older family and friends who are outward-looking and curious, adventurous, supportive. One ran the London marathon when she was 60. Others, in their 80s, still volunteer to support people through church and in their local community. Another can’t go out much but Whatsapps people to encourage them and help with difficult decisions. These people are definitely tutti-frutti flavoured.
Some things add flavour to us too – quiet places, wide spaces, water glimpsed through trees. I need to remember to seek out these things because they make me calmer, kinder.
This time next year I will have had a big birthday (and a published novel – a lifelong dream). I’m probably over-thinking (surely not?) but I’m wondering, you know, how to be 60. Some of you will have passed this milestone and think it’s nothing. Nevertheless, big birthdays are a thing, even at 30, 40 and 50. But my suspicion is, any age can have sprinkles of delight, if you get the right flavour.
Recently, I’ve been a bit…lemon. But, with the assistance of God and Vitamin D, I’m aiming for more. For tutti frutti.
So what flavour are you?
I’m a freelance writer and teacher with interests in education, mental health and community. I like to blog about everyday life, hope and the silly, incongruous things that shape us and make us who we are. My novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an amazon ebook has now also been released in paperback. It’s the story of what happens when a woman buys a house without telling her husband.
My full length novel, Braver, will be published by Fairlight Books in the summer of 2022. The book tells a tale of unlikely friendships and heart-breaking decisions. With themes around mental health, identity and the need to belong, Braver explores how a local community responds when something threatens its very heart.