Sunday, August 18, 2019

last times

Like a scalpel lightly applied to epidermal flesh, intimations of mortality snuck into consciousness the other day as I hugged my older son goodbye while he prepared his return trip to Georgia: It might be, the tickles suggested, the last time I ever saw my older son and the first thought into my head was, "I'll miss him." I am now almost 80 and a prognosticator once told me I would die between 83 and 85. Assuming the prognosticator and actuarial tables are accurate, it is time for the 'last time's' to start kicking in.

It felt like a cut along the surface skin -- nothing horrific, just a cool nudge and some gap in my being opened up in that hug. A wet rag was dragged across some much-used blackboard and suddenly things were cleaned. Looking back, I do wish I could have done better, but as my wife observed doggedly, "Can you change any of it?" The answer is no, but that doesn't stop my wishing I had done somehow better by my family ... my wife, my children ... couldn't I have done more? Probably yes, maybe no ... there's nothing to be done now. Coulda-woulda-shoulda ... ah well, the scalpel tickles with precision.

What does an 80-year-old person do? I mean, like what? I watched a bit of a documentary about the gathering in Woodstock in 1969. Thousands of people, lots of music, and a sense of hope, I guess. I looked at the pictures of the crowds and realized that crowds did not appeal to me, then or now. I never was brought up in a family and the family of man struck me as dubious, then and now. The greater the number, the more suspect the conclusion ... and yet, how cozy. Individuals convince each other with abandon ... do they thereby convince themselves? Up to a point, I guess they do ... but then the scalpel tickles along the epidermis -- just the point of the scalpel.


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