Growing Old Gracefully – what’s that all about!

In December 2017, I wrote:

“I left Melbourne, my birthplace, in 1969, and despite hundreds of visits back over the years, I’ve never felt a need to return to live there. Been tempted many a time, mind you, especially after finishing my working career in Sydney seven years ago, but the pull of my beloved footy team has kept me in the harbour city. Let’s face it, I moved from Brisbane to Sydney for one reason only: the Swans. To be closer to the team I’ve followed since I was a kid and to be able to get to games again. And what years they have been!

Marshall and I have been in Sydney now for nearly eighteen years. It is home. It is comfortable. It is familiar. But there is no family. They are in Melbourne and England. And as we get older, and in some ways more vulnerable to what ageing offers – dammit! – family and the birthplace beckon.

But we just can’t decide.”

I was offered a variety of suggestions at the time, but nothing eventuated.

A year later, Melbourne is now on the horizon.

I haven’t written anything since the footy finished. Been overseas, been ill (being sick in a foreign country is no laughing matter!), been in hospital, been on and still taking the wretched cortisone, been down and anxious, and been in no fit state to even think about putting pen to paper, let alone constructing coherent sentences.

But I’m back!


At our most vulnerable, the stark realities of life eke their way beyond the surface. The important things take on a whole new meaning, and each and every moment becomes one to treasure, as if it were our last. Our values change, and our hopes and inspirations lift a gear. They have to.

At these times in our lives, adjustment and perspective are indeed required.

As I lay in hospital before Christmas, one of my main incentives (apart from getting well again) was to be able to get to Melbourne in March to watch my beloved Swans play their first game of the new footy year.

Adjustment was necessary. Change was needed. Challenges were aplenty.

Perspective, on the other hand, was easy. Perspective is always easy. All I had to do was look around me, look at those terminally ill people in the hospital beds next to me, read the newspapers, watch the news, hear the stories of people and their suffering the world over, and perspective wins outright – every single time.


A few days before Christmas, the cortisone started kicking in. The chronic fatigue that had set in while overseas and until I was out of hospital (that accompanied the eventual diagnosis) started to lift. I was then determined to get to Melbourne for Christmas, Courtins and the Cricket.

We made it to the Boxing Day Test (haven’t missed one since the ’80s) and loved every minute of it – especially Pat Cummins.

Also in December, Marshall was told that the dreaded Mr Alzheimer had come to visit. What to do? Adjust and revisit perspective!

So, a year on from my article in December 2017, the decision has been made for us. The move back to my home town is well and truly on the horizon.

One of my main aims now (once truly well enough) is to plan selling, buying, and moving, so as not to interfere with that all-important day, the first footy game of the season: Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, Bulldogs v Swans, in Melbourne.

I’ll be there, by hook or by crook, and for as long as we can, we’ll then be traipsing up and down the Hume in SWANZ to Sydney for our home games there. (Major problem is that I might lose my NSW rego, and SWANZ is already taken in Victoria! Oh dear!)

And as for Growing Old Gracefully. It might be a euphemism, with the connotation “Showing signs of aging, but still powering forward with life” being a positive one, but at times I just simply refuse to believe that a mere statistic, telling me the number of years that I’ve been around, matters at all! It doesn’t!


Do you love the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE
Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE



About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Gee, it can be a real bugger growing old! Retirement, to downsize or not, to move closer to family, are all issues and more we confront as we grow older. Then, the worries of health and illness to throw a spanner in the works can make it a very difficult time as we age. Like you Jan, I’m weighing up my options at the moment, particularly the downsizing issue, but to make that defining decision is hard, too hard that it gets pushed into the background when it needs to be enacted upon. I also need to make some decisions before next footy season! Go well Jan!

  2. Onya Janet Maria! I for one will very happy to fave you closer – I can stir you much more readily!
    Sister Jude x

  3. Well said,Jan.

  4. Marie Teague says

    Good article Jan. If you move back to Melbourne, you won’t have to stay and put up with us Cats supporters in Ocean Grove when the Swannies lose to the Cats!!! Looking forward to you coming home Jan. Sister Marie. X

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Jan, Happy New Year, great to see your words back on the Almanac.
    Best wishes to both yourself and Marshall, glad you were well enough to make it down for the Boxing Day Test, no doubt you’ll enjoy living back in the best state in Australia!

  6. Thanks one and all. See you all in Melbourne sooner than later!

  7. Neil Anderson says

    Best wishes to you and Marshall. We shifted (only about 40 ks) six months ago to another 6 acre farmlet. My idea was to live right in Warrnambool preferably next to the emergency department of the hospital. In other words thinking it would be a practical decision for our age even if it meant giving up on rural views with space around us. My wife didn’t agree with practical pig and wasn’t ready to give up her beloved horses and other animals.
    Six months later as we look over the valley with views of Mount Warrnambool, I’m sure we made the right decision. The actual shift was labour intensive doing it mainly by ourselves, but the weight-loss was a positive to come out of it.
    So I suppose all that doesn’t help you to decide re your shift. Get plenty of help and allow lots of time before the actual shift day. With our previous shift we were still doing the final clean-up as the new owners pulled up outside in the removal truck.
    I hope you do get to the Bulldogs/ Swans game in March but you will forgive me if I barrack for the home team on that day.

  8. Hi Neil. Nice to hear from you again! It’s great that you’ve made the right decision to move, with your views over Mount Warrnambool. We all know, deep down, when the timing is right, it’s probably organising everything and accepting that it’s going to happen that is the hardest, initially. I’m sure we’ll manage, as long as I get really well and stay that way!
    Pity you can’t get to the actual first game in March, we could have finally met! Maybe another time?
    Take good care

  9. Bloody oath Jan! I so love this point: “I just simply refuse to believe that a mere statistic, telling me the number of years that I’ve been around, matters at all! It doesn’t!”

    Yes, we all have to make decisions based on extenuating factors and circumstances but that should not determine what we want out of this world. The Swans are as good a thing to hang your hat on and anything. They have done you proud. Keep on keeping on. Cheers

  10. Keep on keeping on Jan. I thought age was only a number when I retired in June at age 63. Envisaging my future on the Senior PGA tour. Now my bones ache for a day after every round and I take regular nana naps. December I wandered into hospital to see the cardiologist and met an old mate coming out as I was going in. He is in his 70’s and I had always thought him “old and crumbly”. Gazing around the admission ward I thought “I never signed up for this club. What am I doing with all these old people.” The body keeps score and youthful (and middle aged) indiscretions become latter day obligations.
    I still rage against the dying of the light – but at a more measured pace. Best wishes to you and Marshall.
    I have a secret to reveal. Bobby Skilton was my boyhood VFL idol. We stayed near South Melbourne markets for the GF. On the morning before the game we took a drive to Lakeside Oval and I have a picture of me and Skilts – him adorned in blue and gold. I can email a copy for you to burn. Cheer. Cheer.

  11. Hi Rick,
    Thanks for commenting. Yes,”bloody oath” has been very appropriate these past few months, with the odd stronger language thrown in! However, I’m always trying to get things in perspective, and reading your recent article has been very apt. So thank you
    All the very best

  12. Thank you Jan. So glad that you feel a little better after your bad experience overseas. You do write well, and you must be in a state of trauma with one thing and another having to pack, move find a house and such like. Good luck

  13. Hi Peter. Thanks for your “Keep on keeping on” message. I have every intention of doing just that – bugger the age component!

    I know exactly what you mean when you experienced “I never signed up for this club. What am I doing with all these old people.” Oh God! As i lay in hospital for a week (admittedly feeling “really ill, old and past it” most of the time” I’d say to my sisters who’d flown up from Melbourne to be with me and Marshall, “I just can’t bear this, all these old people everywhere, I have to get out of here…” I’ve never thought of myself as “old”. and hope I never do.

    However, getting on the plane to Melbourne Christmas eve, still fragile and weak, a kind young guy offered to carry my case up the steps to the plane, and people rushed to lift it into the luggage area above – and I was so grateful. To them, I was obviously “old”. The important point though is the kindness from others.

    I think it’s great that you have a photo of you with the great man, despite the draped colours. Bobby would be tickled pink to know he so many admirers.
    All the very best

  14. Thank you Sheila. I’m sure we’ll manage with the move, once well enough

  15. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great perspective Jan. May 2019 take a turn for the better for you,Marshall and your Swannies. Ain’t it time we saw a Swans v Pies GF?
    My mum, who recently turned 88, has lost her mobility, but is still sharp mentally. Doctors found nothing but old age as the cause of her immobility. She looked up to me like an 8 year old and pleaded: “But, I still feel young”. Bless.

  16. Hi Jan

    I hope things are on the improve for you both and the March 23 date can be kept.

    We look forward to updates on your leap back to Melbourne.

    All the best

  17. Many thanks Phil and John

    “But I still feel young” – absolutely love it, and can hear and feel your Mum’s words, Phil.


  18. Keiran Croker says

    Hey Jan,
    I’ll be pleased to have you back around the old haunts in Melbourne … hopefully at South Melbourne! Unfortunately I’ll miss the first Swans game against the Dogs due to my music obsessions .. Yackandandah Folk Festival this time.
    I hope you’ll be able to get to some of the the Almanac Lunches at North Fitzroy Arms, otherwise I’ll aim to catch up at some games.
    Keep cracking on … these days I’m spending a lot of time with my 95 year old Mum who is still living alone in our family home of 65 years!!

Leave a Comment