Sheffield Star columnist Monica Dyson asks if the best things in life are really free

Oscar Wilde once said: “When I was young, I thought that money was the most important thing in life. Now that I’m old, I know that it is!”
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I’m certainly not knocking having money. It’s something that we all need to survive, even though someone did once say ‘The best things in life are free!’

However, during this present dreadful time, certain things that we have formally taken so much for granted have taken on a whole new perspective.

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As a pensioner, having a pension is a blessing when we compare our situation to people who, through no fault of their own have suddenly become very badly off due to businesses failing, whole family members out of work or inadequate benefit payments.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, in April 1991Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, in April 1991
Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, in April 1991

Many of us are finding that we are able to save money as we are not spending on much, apart from food.

Even though I think we are all a pretty resilient lot and it takes more than this to really knock us down, there is no doubt that things have been frightening.

My worst fears are that life will never get back to how it was before. There seems to be nothing to look forward to.

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The biggest joys have been having phone calls, seeing my children and grandchildren on video links, reading and having a walk each afternoon. Oh, and Netflix!

And I know there have been restrictions lifted but, like most people of my age group, I am cautious and often scared also, to be honest.

I dream of browsing round M & S the way I used to, spending Sunday afternoons at the cinema and then having a meal in a city centre bar.

I want to shop in my favourite supermarket without wearing a mask, visit the gym again and the theatre, meet my friends for a crafty glass of vino or two and call to collect books from my local library.

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These are the simple ones. I dare not think of a day when I feel that I can safely board a plane to a favourite holiday destination.

So, it is a fact that there are many things that money can’t buy you. Good health is one of those.

The number of rich people who find that out is frightening, like Beatle Paul McCartney.

With an estimated £730 million, Paul found to his cost that his money could not save the life of his beloved wife Linda, who died in 1998 of cancer.

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The Beatles’ prophetic song of 1964 said Can’t Buy Me Love and they found out that it could not buy health, either.

So, can money buy you happiness? Well, if you are unhappy, you can certainly make your life more comfortable if you don’t have to worry about finances.

But it won’t stop you from getting lonely if you have no one around that you care about.

However, it seems that people who suddenly come into a large amount of money can find that they have more friends than they know what to do with, and it’s amazing how some relatives come out of the woodwork when there’s a lottery win around.

So, what are the best things in life, leaving money out?

I think freedom must be at the top of the list.

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Not only the same way that lack of it scourges so many people’s lives in so many countries, but at the moment here in the UK, the freedom to live our lives as we always have done.

Then there must be your friends, those who are there for you no matter what, and of course your family who usually love you, warts, and all.

True love is not always easy to find. If you have found it, then it is something money can’t buy.

Some people can get to the end of their lives and find that they haven’t ever really loved anyone, unless it’s themselves in some cases!

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Keep humour and laughter in your life. Having a laugh is a real tonic, as long as it’s not at anyone else’s expense.

Your memories are especially important. People, when once asked what would be the first thing they would save if their house were on fire, after people and pets, would say their photos. Today you would have to save your computer, tablet, and mobile phone!

You cannot buy honesty or integrity. Sadly, there does not seem to be very much of it around these days.

We get so used to being lied to by politicians and other people in the public eye.

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I would like to get to the end of my life and be thought of as someone who stood by their beliefs and convictions no matter what.

Therefore, you can’t put a price on being true to yourself and to the things you believe in.

To have someone who supports your dreams and encourages you is priceless.

Reading is priceless. Also, reading is cheap, and you can find that out by joining one of the wonderful libraries in Sheffield.

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Having a roof over your head and enough food to eat is something that so many people take for granted.

But in today’s world, where people have left everything they own to escape from violence, war, or persecution, it is not something to dismiss lightly.

Seeing your children and grandchildren grow up to be decent, caring, and worthwhile people is priceless, even though you know that the financial burdens of rearing children was considerable.

Once you become a pensioner you know it was all well worth it.

One of my friends says that for her one of the best things in life and something so simple is getting into bed with clean sheets!

She says it’s a feeling money can’t buy!