W-h-a-t?! Are you grunting or talking? Huh? Never mind. Where are you?! This has been carrying on in our home for some time now. And I’m not talking about a few hours – it’s been a couple of years. The standard morning ritual. 

When you buy your dream double-storey house, the last thing you consider is that one day you and your partner will be screaming non-sensical phrases at each other. However, we’re in deep, deep denial. There’s nothing wrong with our hearing. He says I mumble; I accuse him of bad diction. 

And of course the house is far too big. It’s highly frustrating walking from one end to the other, trying to find each other; then up and down those pesky stairs. And once at the bottom, you’ve completely forgotten why you’re there. On the upside, at least I’m getting a couple of hundred steps in. I’ve never managed to reach the magical 10 000 steps a day. Apparently it only counts when the step-counter App thingy on your phone records it. Unfortunately I have no idea where my phone is.

My husband uses the dreaded ‘O’ word. Maybe we’re getting Old? I pretend not to hear him. Stop mumbling darling. That’s the best I can come up with.

Alas. Who are we fooling? Only last week, or was it the week before that… Never mind when. I was carrying a truckload of shopping bags. A handsome stranger offered to help. I was quite flattered, until the little upstart called me Tannie and suggested that maybe I should park in the space reserved for the Elderly. The ‘E’ word is just as bad as the ‘O’ word. It’s okay to be regarded elderly when you’re 90-plus. I’m so not ready for that label. Please, not now. Not for the next 40 years at least. If Cher can do it, so can I. And no, I’m not going to divulge my age. 

Every morning as I gingerly toddle off to the bathroom, I keep reminding myself of a friend’s pearl of wisdom. “If it doesn’t hurt in the morning, then you’re dead.” Okay, some good news:  I’m alive then. Alive but grumpy. The elderly Tannie is not a morning person. Percy is too deur die mis to be in any kind of mood. The only morning creature is our enthusiastic Lab who happily wags her tail when she spots me staring out the window with bleary eyes, trying to figure out what kind of day it is. 

Useless exercise, really. I don’t have my glasses. And I have no idea where I put them. No point in asking Percy; he can’t speak human before he’s gone through his morning bathroom routine. After his second cup of coffee I start slowly, with an easy question: Sleep well? Silence. I’m about to repeat myself when he unexpectedly grunts: Huh? Okidoki, we’re having that conversation again.

The other thing that I keep on losing these days, besides my sense of humour, is my mask! I’ve had several, and all have mysteriously disappeared. Ah! Maybe in the bottom of my handbag. Which of course I can’t find either. It’s such an epic, I might as well stay home today. Oops. No can do. I have a shop to run. 

Finally, I’m masked and wearing a pair of old reading glasses that I dug up somewhere. Now the battle of the mask and the specs starts. The mask causes the glasses to steam up. Can’t see. Take glasses off. Okay, breathing is easier. But my vision is still a bit blurred. Hello, because you’re not wearing your glasses, Tannie. Where the hell did I put them? Eish. The search is fruitless. Not for the first time in my life, I head for the chemist to buy yet another pair of cheap reading glasses.

As a teenager we would go visit my grandparents who had long since retired. The oldies seemed to just aimlessly wander around the house not doing much. I actually felt sorry for them. Oupa, what do you and Ouma do all day? He looked at me earnestly: My kind, ons soek. What are you searching for – happiness, meaning? Nope. Goeters, stuff. All the time.

I finally get it. When you stop searching, that’s when you should start worrying. As I’m working on my laptop I can see my battery is running low. I’d better go search for my charger. Quickly.

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