To Make An End

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language.  
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
                                                                    - T. S. Eliot

As another year draws to an end, and with it the approaching close of my eighth decade on this journey, I know I am among the most fortunate of my fellow-travellers.  For sixty years of my passage, I’ve been accompanied by the wonderful young woman I first met when she was but sixteen.  She is young no more, of course, but as W. B. Yeats wrote in When You Are Old (almost as if he had her in mind)---

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

I still do.

Also with me for fifty-plus years of my journey have been the two magnificent daughters who have graced their mother and me with their love, their friendship---and increasingly now, their protection against the failings of age.  When they were little, we made a pact to hug them close for as long as we could, then let them go when time dictated.  As you might expect, the hugging was easy; the letting-go was hard.

But it has been written that when we love someone, we should set them free, and if they come back, then their love is ours forever.  That has certainly been the case for us, for which I’m eternally grateful.  Our girls are women now, but as I’ve often told them, although they are no longer children, their mother and I will never stop being parents.

In due time, those women brought two wonderful men into our lives, and with them produced five wonderful babies of their own---four granddaughters and a grandson for us.  It was as if the cycle started up again, but with my wife and I one step removed this time---loving them, wishing the best for them, but somewhat distant from the immediacy of their lives.  We strive to remain relevant, of course, and they, in return, take pains to make it so.

Kahlil Gibran wrote of that in his meditation, On Children---

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

And in that last line lies the very essence of the joy and sadness, both, that are implicit in our lifelong journey.  Things begin.  Things end.  Things begin anew.  Or so it has always been for me, and will be for some time to come, I fervently hope.  But there will eventually come a moment, I know, when no next beginning will follow the final end.  Despite my reluctance to face that day, I do not fear it.  My approach to its inevitability is summed up in this final stanza from one of my own poems, I Haven’t the Time--- 

I haven’t the time for anger or rancor, or grumbling, self-pity, or frown.
Life’s about living, getting and giving full measure before it winds down.
When that day is nigh, as ‘twill be by and by, I hope it will be widely said,
That as man and boy, I strove for the joy of living until I was dead.

My closest companions along the way have certainly brought that hope closer to reality than it might otherwise have been.  To paraphrase the late Queen Elizabeth II, my dear family have been my strength and stay the entire way.  As we enter into 2023, I hope for all of you who read these posts that you will feel as blessed as I, and that the ending of this old year, no matter its triumphs or tragedies, will be a new and happy beginning for you.

To make an end is to make a beginning.

Happy New Year! 

9 thoughts on “To Make An End

  1. I loved this Brad and sent it along to son Bryan and Lynn. We just chatted to them today about those strange feelings when ( your) children launch themselves into the world.

    Like

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