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...

5 comentaris:

Fletcher ha dit...

Gods, if *I* don't feel like a worthless git! I'm half her age and dont do as much.

I should give her my remaining years so that she can be productive. I'd just waste them.

Tree ha dit...

I loved this post, mon ami. You are fortunate to have had such admirable elders.

Gwyddno Schenectady ha dit...

Hi Fletcher, nah, I don't think she would want your remaining years unelss you really weren't going to have fun with them :) She has had a good life, and an artistic one at that (I have some of her oil paintings hanging around the house). One things is for sure, it's never too late to start going for "the gusto" as we used to say in the 80's ;)

And Tisa, ur right, I was very fortunate to have my old people. The only bad thing is how I much I still miss them!

ptownnyc66 ha dit...

S'mai! Dw i'n newydd dod ar draws eich blog - da iawn! Dw i'n byw yn Efrog Newydd, a gallwch chi ymweld a fi ar ptownnyc.livejournal.com.

Fydda i'n dod 'nol i ymweld ar y safle hwn :)

Gwyddno Schenectady ha dit...

Cwl - Mi siwrnais i'ch safle chi, ac ydw i'n ddeall yn iawn, taw 'cyd-wladwyr' ydyn ni? ;) Swn i wrth fy modd un dydd pan fydda'i ar ryw daith i'r Ddinas i gael sgwrs â chi yn Gymraeg. O le 'dach chi'n dod yn wreiddiol?