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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Writer’s Bloc: The Wonder of Aging

Michael Gurian Special to The Spokesman-Review

Tennis racket in one hand and pen in the other, I am a man who no longer moves with the same vigor he felt in his youth. I see the direction I will go to reach the finality of life – it will be a summer day, I imagine, when I will lift my glasses off (or a daughter will do it for me), and lie down on dewy grass,

my skin covered with scars that no medicine can rub off, tattoos of transition from servitudes and arrogances to a laconic knowledge that I’m going somewhere else than I imagined in my college years,

so that when children and grandchildren look at my head, they see white hair floating on the air like foam left behind by the tide, and with the shovel of their own thoughts they will fill dirt in the spaces my new silences have left them,

while I remember a man who hoped to become a tribute to God (and accomplished it, in his way), his children whispering how the old guy took a whole life to become himself,

and I on the summer day sitting down in a chair on the back porch, my mind a mist of thoughts, will let it happily occur to me that my constant itching eczematic skin and my dented, wrinkling thighs and these droopy shadowed eyes and aching neck and scarred knees and endless canker sores and sleeplessness incurable and paunched belly and skinny arms – what else? what more? – these boil-baked-bumped feet, this gray weed-covered peanut, these sagging pecs (where once I wore armor), these bent shoulders –

each is a reason for applause, each a slowing stubborn challenge to the loss of the single breath that delivered me into the world, each a centaur battling in my bones against death,

while my eldest daughter walks up to me, “Dad, come on, let’s go play tennis. There’s a court open,” and my youngest one, “Daddy, you’re squinting!” lifts my thick glasses back onto to my eyes, both women bending to read over my shoulders this poem I’ve been writing,

“Dad, come on, you’re only fifty four, don’t think like this,”

Ah I see it so well,

how both of you will chide me for looking beyond you to death, when I should be living, with you right now, the many stages of my miraculous age.

Copyright Michael Gurian 2013, from “The Wonder of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After Fifty” (Atria/Simon & Schuster, June 2013)