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! 

Two Resolutions

“Okay, you first.”

“Me?  Why me?”

“You don’t want to go first?”

“It’s not that I don’t want to.  It’s just that I’d like to have a say in deciding.”

“Okay, no problem.  You want me to go first?”

“You can if you want to.  Or, I will…whatever.”

“Jeez already, make up your mind.”

“My mind?  Why’s it me who has to make the decision?”

“You don’t.  But one of us does or we’ll never get through this.”

Silence.

“Okay then, you can decide.”

“You sure?  In that case, you go first, like I said in the beginning.”

“Yeah, because you don’t want to, right?”

“It’s not that I don’t want to.  I already told you that.  But one of us has to, and you told me to decide.  I chose you.  Why are you making such an argument out of this?”

Me?  How come it’s me who’s arguing?  Takes two to tango.”

arguing

“Okay, look, I’m not arguing.  All I’m doing is trying to get us started.  If you want me to go first, I will.  If you want me to go second, I will.  Just tell me what you want so we can get going on this.”

“Oh, so now I’m the one who’s holding us up?

“I didn’t say that.  But I need to know how you want this to go.  I’m ready to start, but you can go first if you want to.”

“Right, so it is me who has to make the decision!  Just like I thought!”

More silence.

“Okay, let me try again.  It’s not you who has to make the decision.  I said I’d decide who goes first because you said that’s what you wanted, and I chose you.  But, since you have a problem with going first, I will.”

“Who says I have a problem going first?”

“Well, apparently you do or you’d have started by now.  I’ve already suggested that three times.”

“Suggested?  Is that what you call it?  Telling me I have to go first, like I shouldn’t have a say in it?”

“Look, I’m not telling you to do anything, okay?  I’m inviting you to go first.  Or second, if that’s what you prefer.  Just make up your mind or we’ll be here all day.”

“And that’s my fault?  Seems to me you’re the one who’s trying to control everything.”

Prolonged silence this time.

“Look, for the last time, I don’t care who’s in control.  I just want us to get started on this, and obviously somebody has to go first.  Who do you want that to be?”

“You’re asking me to decide?”

“Yes…please!”

“Meaning you don’t want to.”

“Jeez Louise!  Okay, I’ll decide, and I’ll go first.”

“So, now you’ve changed your mind, right?  ‘Cause earlier, you said I could go first.”

“You want to go first?  Please, be my guest.”

“Your guest?  So now I need your permission to go first?”

More silence.  Gritted teeth this time.

“No, you don’t need my permission.”

“I mean, you’re not the boss of me.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Okay.  So now that we got that settled, you can start.”

new year

“Yes!  Thank you!  Finally!  Here it is then, my New Year’s resolution.  I resolve in 2020 to be more patient with everyone I meet.”

“That’s it?”

“Well, that’s my first one.  I have some others, but now it’s your turn.”

“Why are we doing them one at a time?”

“It’s called sharing!  I share one of mine, then you share one of yours.”

“Yeah, I guess, but we could do your whole list, right?  Before we do mine?”

Silence again.  Hostile now.

“You don’t like that?  You’re determined we have to take turns?”

No reply.  The beginning of a snarl.

“Okay, already, I’ll read mine.  Sheesh!  You don’t have to be so grouchy!  Here it is, and I hope it makes you happy.  You ready?  I resolve to try very hard this year to be less argumentative.”

Open disbelief.

“How’m I doing so far?”