Very few people of my age express themselves about such things and I will not purport to speak for them, but only for myself. Old age from day to day, sometimes hour by hour, is a kaleidoscope of feelings. These sentiments may be common to us, or they may be uniquely mine. I may feel this way tomorrow or perhaps totally differently. But at this moment of this day it seems to me that:
We think, or at least hope, when we are young, that we will find our old age to be a treasure house filled with accumulated stores of rich experiences, the warmth of love both conjugal and platonic, memories of accolades received, difficulties overcome, dragons slain, and wealth attained. But we discover before us, when we reach the end of that passage which divides middle from old-age, not a treasure house, but a desert, strewn with broken dreams, empty promises, unfulfilled desires, lost opportunities, bleached bones of poor decisions, skeletons of friendships, and yearnings for things that will never again be ours.
And we stand wonderingly: did we ever somewhere, at some time during the long years we spent on the road to old age do anything truly meritorious? Does someone, somewhere occasionally treasure a moment we spent, an experience we shared, or a kindness we did, for them? Or are these words of Shakespeare: “This life, which had been the tomb of his virtue and of his honor, is but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” true?
Julius Caesar is fictionally remembered as saying as he collapsed into death, “Et tu, Brute?” But we wonder . . . is it more likely that his actual last words would have been, “Sic transit Gloria Mundi?”
Or . . . did the glory ever actually exist?
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Writer's Note: This is not intended to be a plea for sympathy or even empathy. Every age of Man has it's unique attributes. I have experienced life as a child, young adult , middle-age, and now old-age. Most of you have not yet entered into this sanctuary I now occupy. These few words are simply my attempt to use words to create an image of "old age" (I am 86) as it appears to me on a given day. It may never be the same for you. If it does, know that the trail has been blazed and there are ghosts around you (as there are for me).
Few people express themselves as well as Don Carriker. Why is that? In my view, it is because he has always bared his soul, exposing his feelings as a man who can look into the mirror and then turn around and share with us what he saw. His stories are the kind I search out and most appreciate.
Thank you, Dick for those words. As anyone who has read my stories know, I am a recovering alcoholic who has been sober now since 1981, by the grace of God. In the days when I was a slave to alcohol I "let no one inside." Part of the process of finding my way out of that toxic servitude was some very deep self-analysis. I saw things I did not like, but I also saw things that I treasure. Most of all, I discovered that I can be lovable and loved as who I truly am. I like to share this because it may help some struggling soul emerge from slavery to a substance.