Elegy for a retiree
Today I was 70 years old. Six words I thought I would never say. What has happened to the years? I can remember being 25 and full of stamina like it was yesterday. But it isn't.
My mind is young but the rest of me is 70. T.S. Eliot wrote: "I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." In a way of speaking, I do that.
My parents died at a young age and, despite our differences, I loved them dearly. I never thought I would live past 50, but here I am past a lifetime, past military service, past a grown family, past a series of ailments, past three surprise birthday parties – one at 30, one at 50 and one at 70. Bless my wife, and exercise and Lipitor. I lie in bed some mornings and look back at the vast property that is my life.
"I've been so many places in my life and time. I've sung a lot of songs. I've made some bad rhymes." I get it, Leon. I cannot believe all that I did to survive. Many jobs, many places in which to live, many good deeds, many laughs, many regrets, many hangovers.
I'm beyond settled now. I follow the same routine each morning - my yoga, my coffee, my crossword puzzle. As my father would say: "I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning."
The only mental difference between me and that 25-year-old is that I fantasize less. Throughout a life of work and scurrying from one day to the next to succeed, I always kept the dream that one day I would write the great American novel, hit a line drive out of the park, play the piano, win the middleweight championship of the world, date Julia Roberts. I know better now. But that's OK.
I had a few 15 minutes of fame along the way and that was enough. My glory is my family and my friends. I'm learning to be OK with my mortality and living for the moment; enjoying each moment surrounded by family and friends who finally appreciate the gentle, reflective me. Grateful for a full life and the peace I've finally made with myself and my being. But oh, if I could swim that mile again once, kick that football 50 yards, hit that high note once more.
"Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart." Thanks, Francis Albert.
Nick De Cerchio