Saturday, June 27, 2009

It tolls for thee, but not today. And probably not tomorrow, either.

Dear reader, I have been thinking about mortality a lot as of late. A lot, as in a lot a lot. I recently wrote a poem called "My last will and testament," which, fine, but I have a slightly nagging feeling that I may have crossed a small line.

The objective reasons I am always going to this cold and lonely place in my fevered brain:

1. my grandma.
2. Betty the dog.
3. my children have grown and left the house.
4. my husband the historian is working on the project of his retirement, with all the plans and preparations and talking about money &c. that that entails.
5. I have more grandchildren in my life than I can count on two hands. (I will pause, so that you may reflect.)
6. I am a poet and may be disposed to fits of melancholie.
7. My hair is grey. -Ing.
8. I am older than I once was.

Whatever. Last night, in Summer Hours, there was a wonderful but heart-wrenching scene in which an older woman, mother of three grown children and grandmother to many, after a family party and after everyone has departed, sits in the dark and basically says (to her long-time housekeeper), "I'm old and when I die all kinds of things will die with me--my memories, my secrets--and that's as it should be. My children shouldn't be burdened with all of it." I sobbed (I have worked out a technique where I can sob almost soundlessly, so don't worry about my cinematic compatriots--they didn't miss a thing.) and sobbed. I thought to myself, I am going to end up like that lovely Frenchwoman, alone with my thoughts and my memories and my stuff and my secrets but probably without her long elegant figure, sleek coiffure, blah blah blah sob sob sob.

Except that the woman in the film, elegant of figure and sleekly coiffed, had just celebrated her seventy-fifth birthday.

Yes, that's seventy five, as in, just shy of four score years.

And I, dear reader, am fifty-one.

I need to get a grip. I am not in the autumn of my life. I am in the latter part of the summer. Like, early August. Mid-August, tops. I am not in the evening of my life. I am in the afternoon. Mid-afternoon. For crying out loud, I am in the picking roses and sipping lemonade and making a delicious dinner part of my life.

I am going to work on the project of not preparing so assiduously for my own decline and fall. Rather, I will prepare for a lot of happy years ahead. I think it's the only practical thing to do. To wit: you will not see me in a mini-skirt, but you will see me riding my bike. I will probably keep using inappropriate slang because I can't resist the newfangleness of it all. I am going to stop referring to my house as the coffin they can bury me in (so I don't have to sort through and/or move my stuff). I'm going to enjoy every minute with my friends and my darling husband and my stellar and adorable children and my delectable grandkids. I am going to throw more parties. To borrow a phrase, I'll be old when I'm dead. That will be plenty soon enough.


  1. can a line be small? Aren't lines infinite?

    Months ago, I wrote a poem about my death and how the people who love me the most will dig up my grave, pry open my skull and search through all my memories, thoughts, and ideas. When I read this post, I thought of that.

    Live it up, L-Dawg! (you said you enjoy the "newfangled slang")

  2. Fits of melancholy about mortality sometimes come at a time of change, just before the birth of a new phase.

    A regimen of afternoon cake makes the soul hardier and the changes more pleasing. Or so I've read.

  3. Don't you know 50 is the new 30? So, you're like in the June of your life. Tops.
    It's definitely time to drink more lemonade and, if I may suggest, eat more fish tacos.
    And cake. Definitely cake. And sonnets about how those young folks don't know whats the what, etc.

  4. With very slight edits, your list of objective reasons could be my list of objective reasons. And I am with you in the melancholy and in lots of happy years ahead.

    I need to work on the soundless sobbing.

  5. Oh we are so in the same place.

    What a fabulous, wry, witty, melancholy, funny, lovely post.



Related Posts with Thumbnails