I hope to have the sense of peace I’ve always imagined is present in the breast of the aged members in our society.
I imagine myself, on a covered porch of wooden boards. Behind me a screen door filtering a Bessie Smith tune on the kitchen radio. Before me, flat land for miles until it begins to slope gradually into the mountains. I’m on the porch swing today. Just staring. Smiling. My eyes look up to the sky and squint, remembering other skies on other days. Some of them real. Hard to tell which memories I created. I wonder which paths I’ve not taken that I’ll remember as fact when memory becomes harder and harder to check against reality.
It’s funny to think that the life I lead between now and then may not be the one I remember. Comforting, too. No regrets, because it’s easy to convince myself that I’ve led an amazing life. That I filled that place that now lays open in wait for fate to pour me just one glass that will never run dry.
Even if I’m not on that porch. If the kids sold it and put me in a mountain care center for the elderly. If the only mountains I see are a photograph, hung slightly askew on the matte white wall. Even then, my mind will give my eyes the gifts that we find in a play or a very good book. I’ve always had a good imagination.
And it’s Sunday. So I remember a play I saw, years ago, on a farm in Vermont back in September of 2012, and the line that so touched me then was, “I don’t work six days a week to be made little of on the seventh.” Back then I worked as hard as Colm, the Irish fisherman who spoke the line. Back when I was a farmer. Before. It takes me a while to cross the room to the half-size refrigerator I share with a nice woman from Missoula. My left hand wavers a bit as it grasps the handle and pulls open the door.
On the bottom shelf is a small box containing my vegetables from the farm up the road. Senior shares they call them. Smaller than the CSA shares we used to put together at the farm in Jericho. This week is our last of eight weeks. I pull out the onion, tomato and head of lettuce. The corners of my mouth turn up into that familiar “u” at the thought of the young farmer who so lovingly peeled off the skin of the onion, chose a perfectly ripe tomato and the freshest head of lettuce. And I think of all her dreams, and what may lie in store for her. I sigh, hoping her life will bring her as much joy as mine has to me. I look at the photo on the wall, and make myself a sandwich.