Tuesday, January 26, 2021

On Getting Older

Last night, a person who loves me said it was hard to watch me losing some of my abilities, especially observing my trouble walking under the influence of arthritis.

I replied that I have long accepted the inevitability of some decline, and I still appreciate what is left, diminished as it is.

My beloved, stoic, and heroic wife, Tina Su Cooper, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent for the past 16 years, agreed with me one day a few years ago that if that day were our last day on Earth, it had all been worth it.

I have about a 50% chance of living into my mid-80s and a 25% chance to making it into my late-90s, (my mother lived to 98), and I am living carefully to maximize the time left and to be here for Tina if I can.

So, last night, I told the one who asked that the following poem by Robert Louis Stevenson might well be my requiem, too:


Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

I doubt I will gladly die, however.
Perhaps "gladly" if in continuing pain or perhaps after great 
disappointment, but probably sadly with
reluctance to leave those I care about.
But life has been plenty. 

We live in particularly favorable times,
all things considered, so different from
Hobbes's description of the
state of nature, where life was
"solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Short may have been the best part.

Over a century ago, Robert Browning wrote,
"Grow old along with me.
The best is yet to be,
The last for which the first was made."
How many of us would agree?

Later that evening, I engulfed my usual mound of prescriptions and over-the-counter supplements, some of which, I hope, do some good. 

After we are born, there is only one guarantee. Two, if you include taxes.
So be it.

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