Friday, June 10, 2011

What did Papa Heinz feel when he turned 59?

When my father turned 57, two years before he died, I composed a poem although there was no reason, other than my own inexperienced youth, to suppose his death was anywhere near. I laughed when people said "he died so young" two years later, yet surely he had no idea.

I said for years that I would welcome going at the same age. As I got closer, however, my tune began to change: I like being alive, warts and all.

Upon turning 59 today, I have already thought and rethought this. When I turn 60, next year, I'll heave a sigh of relief. Then keel over. Just kidding! (Or perhaps the joke will be on me.)

It would be worthwhile to know when one will die. A friend was diagnosed with a terminal disease, given a few years and spent all his savings before dragging on in poverty for a decade longer than predicted.

Doctors know nothing! My plan is to stay away from the medical money extraction machine as long as possible, to age in place to avoid feeding tubes and the like, and generally to go gently into that night. The plans of mice men men, right?

Still, if I die this year, say six months from now to match the exact life span of my father, I can't say I'll go with much too much fight. Barring some unforeseen development, of which life is admittedly chock full, I have done just about all I'm going to do and I'm plum out of new ideas.

Oh, last thing: I called my father Papa Heinz drawing on the fabled 57 varieties of ketchup in an old slogan. Thank your stars I speared you the poem.
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