REFLECTIONS ON MORTALITY
The photograph is faded and yellow, taken in my twentieth year.
When Reagan was President and I wore Navy whites,
And life seemed endless and I had no fear.
For I was slim and tan and young and nice to look upon – or so I’m told.
Years unnumbered lay before me, pages of life yet unwritten,
And if it occurred to me, I laughed at the thought of growing old.
Now the photo album has come unbound, pictures of my now-spent youth,
Lie tumbled and jumbled in a box full of memories –
And when I look in the mirror it tells me the truth.
For the man I once was has long since gone, his trim form but a memory.
Hair has greyed, waist has thickened, and though I’m still strong,
I see the old man I’ll soon become standing there, staring into me.
Too soon! Not yet! There is so much living I have not done!
Sensations unfelt, things untried, I feel that I must hasten quickly;
For more than half the sands in my hourglass have already run.
Youth was a blur, youth was an era; it felt like a short eternity.
Now my father is gone, my mother is old, my siblings about to retire,
And when girls smile at me, it seems like a cold act of charity.
I see with a clarity the young cannot know, I see the future that beckons;
The slow decline of my body, the withering of my mind,
As all the choices I have made demand to be reckoned.
A decade, perhaps, maybe two or three, is all that I have remaining.
Will I be hale and strong til the end? Or an invalid,
Helpless, lying in bed, demanding and complaining?
This cannot be! I won’t allow it! I refuse to grow any older!
How many before me have screamed at the clock thus,
Their demands growing louder and bolder?
But time, the great teacher, instructs us all in reality,
For no matter how much we scream and rage,
We cannot outrun our mortality.
So what can we do, but live, and live large, seizing each day as it comes!
We know not how many we have, or how few –
As we march to the beat of our own set of drums.
From this day forth I shout from the ramparts a new battle cry;
Let all who hear take note and take heed,
If nothing else I will live ere I die!
This is the last third of my life’s brand-new creed.