dilluns, de febrer 20, 2006

What I thought of Natalie's Letter (English / Welsh)

It's always nice to receive a letter from my Aunt Natalie. I don't have too many relatives left, and of those, Natalie is by far the oldest. Her brother Lloyd is also still alive, and must be 89 by now. He's well for a man of his age, but not as well as she. Lloyd doesn't see or hear much, and has had to give up on his model airplane hobby as he can no longer see them whizzing about his head. Surely he must have given up on feeding the alligators too, which live outside his mobile home on Lake Wales. Natalie and Lloyd, but Natalie moreso, are all who are left who remember Mathew Henry Jones from Bethesda, Wales, and while I was never as close to them as I was to my mother's family, now in my 30's I'm proud (rwyf yn falch) that they are still alive. I get to see Natalie, perhaps, once a year, and this is more a testament to her stalwart grasp on living life than to my dereliction in duty to visit my aged family members. Nearly every time I return to the family homestead, Natalie is off somewhere visiting relatives in the Lehigh Valley.

At 93, she has forsaken further trips to Florida, and feels that she will never see Lloyd again. Short car trips are all right, but she is leery of long plane rides. In stead of being maudlin about it, she is sanguine: this is the reward for living a long life.

If I should live as long as she, and I hope I shall, I want to be just like her. She isn't just alive, she is living. At her extremely advanced age of 93, not only does she drive and cook and clean for herself, she also has a social life. Her mind is sharp, and so is her wit. She is not a member of the aging living dead. In this way she is my hero. If, by hook or by crook, I'm alive at 93, I want to be doing at least as well as she, and my goal will be to be doing even better!

She is like two other elderly friends of mine, Sheldon and Dorothy, who, both in their late 80's still live alone in their massive penthouse apartment, which is only accessible by climbing a flight of stairs. They still go out socially, still swill Scotch and Gin, and still throw parties for 50 or 60 of their friends from time to time.

Sadly, not everyone who is young can understand that life doesn't have to end when you're old. Case in point would be our waitress at the brew pub in Troy where Sheldon, Dorothy and I went this past Friday. The waitress, perhaps all of 19, talked loudly and slowly to Sheldon so his 88 year old ear's could pick up the squeaky vibrations of her youthful voice. Fair play, Sheldon does wear hearing aids, and could use a bit of assistance from time to time. On the other hand, one doesn't have to speak to him like he's an eight year old.

Luckily, I spent a lot of my youth around old people, and I know them well, and I know how I want to grow old and how I don't, and goddamn it all to hell, following in the footseps of those old people of mine who lived and died well, I will grow old on my own terms. I want to grow old like Natalie and Sheldon and Dorothy, throwing parties, travelling, driving my own car, and writing letters to younger people with the message that my Aunt Natalie always closes with:

Take care of yourself and enjoy all the things you can...

No one knows the value of life, I suspect, more than a 93 year old woman who has lived hers well and knows the days left are very few...

What My Aunt Natalie Wrote (English)

Feb. 8, 06

Dear Robbie,

I was going thru some snap shots the other day and came across two I think you should have.

The one is a picture of my father's younger brother, Moses Jones, his wife Polly, and daughter and here husband. The other is of a beautiful collie. The daughter used to raise them and got prizes for some.

I'll hang onto the pictures and when you come down home sometime, maybe you can come by and get them. The is some info written on them.

Since you are the only one interested in that side of our family, thought you should have them.

I'm fairly well. Really should be happy to be as good as I am at 93.

How is your house coming? Thanks for the cards you sent in the summer when you were on your travels.

Jan. & Feb so far have been very nice. Jan. was quite warm. Of course we'll have about 6 weeks of winter yet, but every good day helps.

My niece is coming from Allentown tomorrow and we'll so some running around. I still drive, but only to grocer, drug store, Drs and church.

Take care of yourself and enjoy all the things you can.


diumenge, de febrer 19, 2006

Springtide of Your Demise (English)

It won't be long now
the days are growing longer
the earth is thawing quickly from its fitful slumber
soon it will be time to bury you again
I have buried you every year since 1994
twelve years I have lowered your body into the thawing grounds of our ancestors
a year for every apostle
three times the perfect Daoist number
four times the sacred Celtic number
and yet I cannot fathom that twelve more won't come
and I will not do the same
if I breathe another twelve
I will hold your hand on your deathbed
I will kiss your hollowed cheek
I will look into your blank eyes
I will recall your disconnected voice
artifact from your living time
crack crack crackling on the magnetic tape
I will remember how we mourned the others' passing together
how we hugged and kissed and never parted without saying
very simply
"I love you."
My mother will soon join you in the earth's embrace
then there will be no one left who really remembers you
but me
Me, all alone, to remember all those tales
all those times
all that love
Me to be what I never thought I really would be
"The Last Leaf on the Tree"

I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o'er the ground
With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
"They are gone!"

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said--
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago--
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1895

dilluns, de febrer 06, 2006

Palabras para el 14 de febrero (Spanish)

En búsqueda de lo imposible
Mejor ponerme las pasiones
en tomarme el vino
espíritu santo de Bácano
Este asunto de amor es perros
como se dice
al menos es un asunto triste
al mejor es un desastre emocional
que suerte que solo me molesta en lo abstracto
un concepto rídiculo proviendo de mis deseos puriles
a ver
los últimos momentos para quejarme de lo que no existe llegan
como llegan los pájaros de lejos
llega la primavera
llega la ausencia más profunda con los vientos calores
como el haliento de un amante de sueños
pues sí, me canso
y sí mi corazón rebelde deja sus armas
la caza ya no vale la pena
y yo, soldado privado, dejo mi comision
el puto Cúpido puede joderse
y que me deje en paz