Saturday, July 21, 2018

... AND THERE WAS LAUGHTER

There is no accounting for the power
of freshly minted love - it's forever

We wrote our names on a laughing rock
chosen from that rocky beach that
applauded with each receding wave

We looked at each other and in that look
knew that the Universe did that just for us

That little beach with its raucous applause
was just for us and no other - our love so pure
With indelible ink we wrote our love on
a chosen rock to remind us - to remind us

We believed what we wanted to believe
You can't blame us for that

Monday, June 4, 2018

NOISE

NOISE

I turned the volume down
to take the edge off the voice
I should be turning it up to hear
more - more is better
Lately I wait to install my hearing aids
cherishing the silence of morning
A high keening is all I can hear as though
a mourner is miles away in pain
I adore the sound of wind the
happy chorus of spring peepers
and late summer cricket song
But not the emptiness of constant talk
And not noise for the sake of noise
Those places that thrive on cacophony
as though some good would come of it
as though loud was the new American dream

Monday, May 14, 2018

THE YEAR I BECAME AN OLD MAN or THE SOUND OF THE OTHER SHOE DROPPING

This is a rather plainly spoken post.  
Probably more information than you want to know.  
Perhaps you would like to do something else.

Age is something that creeps up on your blind side - at least it seems that way to me. One summer I walked along an island trail that clings to a cliffside that drops off over a hundred feet and thought little of it. Next year on the same trail I seem to be thinking about it more than just enjoying it. The next summer I notice that I don't feel sure at all and the next time I am on that trail I have a telescoping walking stick that now accompanies me anytime I am on irregular terrain. Age.

A few years ago I was walking up an inclined street on the way to work and I am short of breath. No pain, just a little breathlessness. I mention this to my PCP and she orders a stress test and what do you think? I have some sludge in my anterior coronary artery. I have slightly elevated BP. My cholesterol is a bit high. I am prescribed a daily regimen of pills for the first time in my life. Age.

In a regular scheduled physical my PCP asked about my ability to empty my bladder freely and I tell her that I do have occasional issues with that, so I am referred to a urologist for the first time in my life. After an examination he announces that I have an enlarged prostate. Another pill - and the pill works. Age.

A couple of years ago I began passing a little blood in my urine. A call to my urologist and we do a cystoscope procedure - we look into the bladder and find two tumors that must be dealt with. This is day surgery and it is successful. They were malignant tumors. The exact same thing happened recently and two more cancerous tumors were successfully removed. While anesthetized a biopsy was performed on the prostate to follow up on a suspicious bump discovered by a digital exam and cancer was discovered. Age.

I recently completed a series of 28 radiation treatments to deal with the prostate cancer. I feel great. I am essentially a-symptomatic. But I have cancer which if not treated somehow could become a different kind of serious problem. "They" say this works. I'm hopeful. Hope seems to be the coin of the realm as far as old people go.

The good news is that my doctors are optimistic.  Nothing like a happy doctor!  Good news #2:  I live in Paradise and I have wonderful friends, many of whom are not afraid of a nice warm hug.  I mean - think about it.

Finally it's like learning a new language: the language of old age. But it's more than words. It's the way you do everything.

Monday, March 19, 2018

THE ROSEBUD THEORY

There are so many jokes in the standard repertoire about aging that it would be impossible to gather them all.  I'm so old I have stopped buying green bananas.  Anon.  I'm so old my insurance company sends me half a calendar. R Dangerfield.   I'm so old that the sight of flowers frighten me. G Burns.  I'm so old that when I order a 3 minute egg they want the money up front.  G Burns.  I'm so old the candles cost more than the cake.  B Hope.  This one by Steven Wright stops me cold: How young can you die of old age?

Of course, none of the above is original with me.  Not even growing old.  It just feels unique.  It's one of those things, that if you do it (grow old, I'm talking) you feel alone.  I don't care if the room is full of cheering friends, which, of course, is nice, but even such an outpouring cannot remove the footprint of time planted squarely in the middle of your back.

These things don't occupy your mind  too much until you pass 50, or for sure  60 for most of you.  I say all this from a lofty perch in the midst of my 80s.  That's when it gets serious.  Friends and family begin dying off much too quickly for comfort.  Children you once knew or haven't seen in a while are now voting adults if not parents as well.  Then one day you realize you are *thinking* about it all the time - well, a lot of the time.

A while ago I was commiserating with CA about the recent demise of my main computing machine.  It was only 4 years old.  What to do - what to do.

Now, here is how an Octogenarian processes such a situation.  OK.  Should I go ahead and replace the laptop with the present version or wait for the inevitable upgrade at some unknown time in the future?  I'd like the new model, but will it arrive in time?  That wasn't a joke.  I'm dead serious.  Whoops!

There comes a time in life when the idea of delayed gratification is  a kind of dark joke.

How about this from the Song of Solomon:  "Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither".  I kind of like that.  The Rosebud Theory of big ticket purchases in old age.  It has a certain charm, don't you think?

I've always liked the way Robert Herrick brought it together:

     Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
     Old time is still a-flying;
     And this same flower that smiles today
     Tomorrow will be dying.

A version of this was posted in January 2015.  It just felt right today.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

NATURE WILL HAVE HER WAY

Nature will have her way.
She thinks in terms of tens of thousands
while we piddle along with thirty days
hath September. . .
Fifty to a hundred years makes a tree
then come four men with chainsaws.
They were damaged goods
from the weight of ice and snow.
A glimpse ten thousand years hence
would likely be a revelation on this little
three acres with a ledge overhead.
I wonder how that can be arranged?
Ten thousand years ago is "dust in the wind"
while hence - who knows - an iPhone movie
proving we lived and died along with 
those lovely pine trees, which, of course
were doomed from the start.
Doomed from the start  - Interesting.
So we travel along singing our song,
It's important to sing our song.


THE OTHER

We scrambled over rocks that slanted to the sea,
to find the cave we saw from the boat.  She had
been there before, this was my first time -
I carefully chose my steps.  I wondered who was first.
Are there any signs that some 'Other' might have left?
And how long ago and who - what difference does it make?
None, of course.  We were there.  We are there.

But there it is - a small cairn in a rock cleft.
Stones like small marbles stacked, neat, telling - the 'other'.
So it's not a private niche, a solitary find, a personal shrine.
I wondered if there were such things except in our inward focused minds.
Our native need to own, to possess.  'This is my place'.
Then it happened - the ceremonial fire, smoke, the drum
and the 'knowing' that we are the 'Other'.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

THE END IS NEAR

Growing old has one major drawback –
the nearness of death, closer and closer
the end comes. I have friends who say,
'i don't think about it'. They lie.
I have friends who have died. They know,
I stroll among gravestones and listen.
The din of voices is almost deafening.
I have found that bending low and
putting my ear to the stone sometimes
drowns out all but that one who long ago
laid down – I wonder how and why.
The metaphor smothers us in truth –
all living things die. The story goes
that even God died, but he had a key.
Not fair. The end is the end is what I think,
But I love surprises as much as anybody.