Let’s say that you love life so much
that you outlive your spouse and friends
and enemies, your taste and hearing,
but not your income or your brain.
“102 and sharp as a pin!”
Though your gold retirement watch has stopped,
you’re still delighted, when you wake,
that you don’t have to go to work,
or, if it’s a summer weekend,
that you don’t have to mow the lawn.
You don’t miss shoveling after snowstorms
(those who do die in their eighties),
and since you never learned to dance
you never had to give up dancing.
Ditto golfing; ditto skiing.
For forty years or so you worked
and had no time for sports or games;
for forty more you didn’t work
but felt no need to waste your time
doing things for fun, not money.
If you’d had the chance to go to college
like the popular psychologists
who read Sartre’s Being and Nothingness,
which they condensed for Reader’s Digest
pieces you paged through at your dentist’s
that advised you to GET OUT AND DO THINGS!
you’d have said that Existentialism
grossly overvalues Doing
at the expense of Having and Being.
At one hundred and two, being alive
with memory and desire intact
and having sufficient funds to live on
are astonishing accomplishments,
impressive as a high wire dance,
one misstep away from death—
which, of course, you’ll soon make.
Longevity’s a dirty trick.
But, considering its alternative—
a short, unhappy, work filled life—
it’s a trick that’s well worth pulling off.
You did great! Bravo, Pop.
Return to table of contents for Issue 9 Summer 2015.