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Syndic Literary Journal

Watching and Waiting

By LeRoy Chatfield

I heard second hand the wife of a longtime friend and colleague was in hospice care.  I called to talk with him about whether this was true or not. Yes, he answered in a subdued voice full of resignation and anguish; we discussed it and she decided this week it was time for hospice care.  

How are you doing, I asked? LeRoy, this is where we’re at: we’re here, watching and waiting!

Watching and waiting. These past few days I have been thinking about their situation: watching and waiting.

Truthfully, watching and waiting is a good description of my old age. Watching and waiting for the first sign of dementia, or the fever that bespeaks infection, or the advent of chronic pain that will drive me to serious drug relief that is certain death.

 Looking full square into the eyes of my old age, I have no future to speak of, and certainly no future to plan with. Except for the occasional travel to visit family, keeping abreast of the horrific daily news about the Pandemic, and our country’s drift to fascism,   puttering with my literary publishing – Syndic Literary Journal and Easy Essays –   my life is drifting to its final conclusion.  While not too many years ago,  I used to keep half a dozen project balls in the air, now I am reduced to barely one.

I take my daily three-mile walk with Fergus – some days more, some days less – but I am faithful about the walk, and besides, Fergus wouldn’t let up on me if I wasn’t.

 I have daily chores: emptying the dishwasher, making the morning coffee with my special 3-filtered process,  feeding Fergus his breakfast treats,  light duty garden care including picking up the dog dirt and  feeding my  Koi,  then in the late afternoon or early evening, I prepare  the hors d’oeurves and pour the drinks for our daily cocktail hour. Nothing too strenuous here, but as my daughters are wont to say: it is age appropriate, and so it seems to me for an eighty-six year old man.

It took me several years to realize that my  life status had forever changed: I had become an old man! I was not in a state of denial or trying to pretend otherwise, but I was slow to recognize the change or even to focus on it. 

Two things happened.  Beginning in my early 70’s, I was often addressed by store clerks as “young man”. Of course I was not young, I knew that much, but I believed their friendly greeting was a short-handed way of saying: not to worry, you are not too old. By the mid-70s I began to be addressed as “Sir” – especially by males or by “Hon” – especially by middle aged females.  This was a marked change.  “Sir” is a culturally ingrained greeting of respect reserved for someone older than your grandfather and “Hon” was a female greeting of affection and a compliment that means: you are old but you still look pretty good for your age.

But what finally pushed me over the cliff of old age were the family photos taken at various holiday and family birthday gatherings.  When I looked at  myself in those photos I said to myself: who is that old man?  Can that be me?  And it only got worse with each succeeding year! It was me! I had become an old man.

Which reminds me!  Did I tell you about my 20-year old sure-fire method of brewing a great tasting cup of coffee? 







Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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