Monday, February 16, 2009


"Old age is hell," my grandmother said. There were ghosts with us this weekend in Florida. We talked about my Aunt Evvy, who recently passed away, and another close relative of my grandparents who underwent an unexpected heart operation this week.

"No one's ever beaten it, so what can you do," my grandfather said. They talked about losing people you love and have lived with for decades, how it feels to be at an age when your close family members and friends are succumbing to their years. How it feels to live inside an old body, when certain words or names are just beyond the tip of the tongue and when each trip on the stairs demands a firm grip on the barrister. L and I would jog up the stairs into the condo: "you're just showin off," she would say.

And they said, "you'll get there one day," and for a moment I couldn't wait to be elderly, to understand. And then I thought of what must happen to reach that point: the children to be born, the careers to rise and fall, the mistakes and the wounds and the triumphs and the thousands of moments I would not dare give up. How many evenings of late-summer light, how many Christmases, how many kisses and tears and cheap or genuine or inexplicable laughs. I felt ashamed for wishing to skip so far ahead. And I felt chastened by the lack of any kind of guarantee of making it to that far place down the road. How lucky to walk these steps with them, and to have a good woman beside me as we peer down our own path, unknowable and unseen.

I feel really complicated right now, like I don't know if my heart is bursting or breaking.

1 comment:

Henry said...

This post makes me think of the song remember when by Alan Jackson.