We have this tree just on the street side of our retaining wall. An Oak tree, while it helps beautify the street, it doesn’t do a damned thing for us, such as giving a little shade. What it does do each fall season, however, is drop an unbelievable number of dead leaves on our property. When enough of them accumulate, I gather and put them into a refuse can. Over a full fall, I may have four or five reiterations of this.
Yesterday while I was raking them into piles, the thought came to me that these were dead leaves that had reached the end of their time and fallen to the ground, or hid in the bushes and plants bordering the lawn. I then thought that what the hell, here I am about to hit No. 85 in January and pretty soon I’ll be at the end of my time.
I’ve been thinking along this line for quite some time. If I were religious, I guess I would be thanking God for each day that I have and for the years of fulfillment that I have experienced. I read the daily obituaries in the LA Times (which does an excellent job with these) and notice that the mid 80’s seem to be a common “departure” age. Again, 85, I wonder and speculate on how much time I really have left.
While I continue an exercise program at the local fitness center (cutback considerably from prior years since my pacemaker was installed) and try to eat healthfully, I do cheat with desserts and continue to imbibe a beer or Bushmills when I feel the need to do so. While I try to stay cognitively “there,” I find myself misplacing keys and glasses too often. Also, my recall of names and events is seemingly on some kind of delay; I would be a lousy Jeopardy contestant. Add to all of that my replaced knee, the detached Retina, the need for hearing aids, a bone spur on one of my toes, the Pacemaker and all of the damned medications I take (I’m a walking drugstore), and I am persuaded that the old bod is falling apart and that my time may be coming up.
But then when I think about those leaves lying there and the fact that there will be a rebirth of them on that tree in the springtime, I realize that I too can have a rebirth. I’m not addressing my physical features here, but my frame of mind. Why in hell should I be contemplating the end when I feel pretty good and still have much to do? The old brain may not be what it was, but it will suffice.
My determination to bring support and affirmations of well-being and appreciation to others remains as strong and demanding as ever. And I have been blessed with the finest of families and friends. So, what the hell, if it happens, it happens. I sure am not going to worry about it. Now, on to the next project.
Arnold Silverman, commander of the Laguna Beach VFW Post 5868, served in the Korean War.