he’s 86 years old.
frail and weak in a hospital gown
depleted of long-term hope,
settles for the paradise of tomorrow.
tomorrow, oh tomorrow, what a beautiful idea.
tomorrow, now scarce, has never been more
beloved by the old man. never really thought about.
it’s when things become limited
that they’re truly appreciated.
tap tap tap
the doctor, young, oh so young, and vibrant
walks in his room, puts the charts up
on the wall and begins.
he tells the old man that he has a leaky heart valve.
it needs to be fixed.
or he only has months to live.
the doctor tells him,
make no mistake, this surgery is high risk
due to its invasiveness and your age,
but I think it’s a risk that is worth taking.
it is up to you.
the old man, tired, tired of hospital visits, doctors, bad news,
just so tired, sits back and looks out the window.
it is a pleasant fall day. he watches the commotion
of life out there,
and it was beautiful. he pictured himself,
sitting under an oak in the shade of a sunlit day,
as he often loved to do, sipping his coffee
and smoking his cigar.
just one more day.
Oh, just to see those crazy squirrels
run all around and to hear those annoying birds.
just one more time.
just to watch one more ballgame or to
hear the beautiful voice of george jones.
that’s all he wanted. he was man with
nothing left but memories. and he lived in them,
fully, and only occasionally did he come back.
circumstances like this forced him back,
and he loathed it.
his sad, bloodshot eyes had seen the death of siblings,
two wives and a daughter. they’ve seen war and all its agony.
they’ve seen love and love lost.
he was an eyewitness during the
most tragically beautiful century in history,
in all its glory
and in all its depravity.
oh, how he had guts in youth.
in the hills of West Virginia,
the women, the drinking, life, the future.
he lives in these memories.
he was happy once.
and now he’s reduced to a choice. a hard one too.
risk dying now for a little longer life,
or take no risk now,
and take death on.
what a choice.
he’s a man who hadn’t taken many
risks in life. he was content with
the average, the routine.
after the risks were weighed and pondered.
the ultimate choice was finally decided.
the old man, sitting upright in the
hospital bed, sipping his coffee,
peeking out the window of eternity
chose not to go gently into
that good night. he chose to rage,
rage against the dying of the light.
there’s still a little more
coffee in that mug,
a little more smoke
left on that cigar.