Nineteen is young and gorgeous, full of life, teeming with expectations;
It is life as it should be, radiant, crazy, alive, frustrating and impetuous.
Ninety is experienced, wise, a full life lived, content and resigned to time that is left.
Sixteen and seventeen a whole life ahead, brimming with hope and potential;
Grades, relationships, applications, disappointments… intense confused emotions.
While ninety-one snoozes, reminisces, the TV blares loud and the phone isn’t answered.
A teen is wide-eyed, mind open to soak inhale knowledge from books, lectures, opinions; Philosophical discussions during wee hours, curious as to how he will impact his world.
Eighty-seven is where should I live now and who will care for me?
But a shift, a rift, a change, irrevocably setting our life adrift.
A dark shadow falls on the teen, weakening from sixteen to a hundred years an old man.
While the eighty-five year old turns ninety and more, strong and stronger still.
The elder’s possessions are support hose and oxygen and a bra without elastic.
And the teenager has pills and ports, doctor visits and organs that fail.
Parental house then apartment, now a space filled with pictures and fewer clothes.
Would I but welcome his messy room over a house with trappings of the old.
Eighty-nine is tired, finished, waiting to see loved ones on the other side.
Almost twenty has hands reaching towards him unexpectedly and way too early;
When the ones grabbing ought be sexy young flirty with light and love.
A legacy at ninety-two spells out generations spilling to the next, stories of life well lived.
The teenager has few scribbles, chords played, treasures no longer holding his scent.
The grandmother has bequeathed her eye color, her strong will, pieces of her soul.
Yet no generations will follow him, never any children, no girlfriend who loved;
No one will carry his genes, smile, talents, or carry on his wishes hopes and dreams.
There are no clues I can find, the answers to the conundrum of age and aging inadequate. How and why and how can a teenager can crumble and wither before his grandmother. The energy and calm I call upon to care for the person who has already lived when my heart’s full desire is to tend to the other is one of the ironies of my life, a modern Shakespeare’s satire that I wade through with a smile that is false but lipsticked. I don a well-placed mask to cover the part of my life which is a sham, to hide what I really feel and am mortified to admit.
It takes an inhuman amount of energy not to flail at Gd for the unfairness and injustice of it all, but I am shrewd enough to understand that it’s not personal, that my corner of the world is but a slice of the teeming universe I will forever grapple with.
On days like this I look forward to other, better ones. I know I will scrape myself together and mend with tape and clips or chocolate and love. And I add this chapter to what will one day be my opening and closing statements of how a life should be well lived.