The Old Man
The Old Man
LIFE AS IS
"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self. "
"That damned dream, again last night. Frustrating as always, but this time it included Franco. What in the world could this be about; why this dream, what's the point?" The Old Man was muttering this as he awoke.
The Old Man grinned a bit as his eyes opened (once again) this morning. He came to life wiping the sleep from his eyes, gradually realizing he had lived another day. He spoke a quick word of prayer, giving thanks. He was a man of faith, a believer in prayer despite plenty of past sins and vices.
He nearly simultaneously gagged erupting into one of his coughing fits. A few 'gah dammits' were shared with the nurse who happened to be doing her thing at this unfortunate time. In a minute or two the fit passed; the Old Man finally settling down catching his breath. Being sick and feeling bad made him mad.
Peace for the moment anyway; this was a part of his life now. Physically he was not really well, to say the least. He was an Old Man, all this is part of life's seasons he would tell you. One of life's last seasons he would emphasize.
As often happened these days, he found himself in a stare, a day-dreamy presence. He was looking at nothing in particular, the bathroom doorknob more or less. He was having a flashback, taking him back to the death of his father. He was visualizing his own father in his last few moments - what a sad time that was of course. In those last few hours, he was with his father watching him struggling to just exist. He could still see his father's face as his breathing ceased upon his death. This was one of those deaths that some would refer to as 'a good thing'. How true those words can be and at the same time how stupid they can sound! His Dad had suffered minimally really; he lingered and struggled for a few months. The time had come and now the Old Man's father was ready.
This was not an image the Old Man liked to remember. In fact he hated that visualization, that image etched in his memory. A shell of a face, a shell of a man was left, his life and soul were gone where they go.
This 'hatred' at least somewhat stemmed from a lifelong hang-up of not wanting to see people's bodies on display after death, at funerals, etc. The Old Man vehemently avoided this morbid tradition of viewing people - at the funeral home or anywhere else. He realized others didn't think as he did about this. He was adamant about this and to anyone listening he made this known. He routinely shared a story that happened somewhere in his past regarding this obsession.
The story was about him attending a visitation with a friend. Somehow in the midst of mingling, he suddenly turned around to find this stranger's corpse on display right behind him. He found himself staring at this body unavoidably just for a moment. The Old Man would tell you the surprise glance was enough to actually make him mad. He made his way to an exit and waited out in the cold until the friend showed up to depart.
Just a thing, but a big thing with the Old Man. After people die, we are in God's hands. He didn't want or need to see dead people; he would remember them in a better form - ALIVE!
The Old Man often thought and joked about how with the little bit of memory he still had, "why couldn't I just get rid of that piece (of memory)?" He didn't dwell on it but for sure had taken no pleasure in seeing his father's face in death.
These days there were still times interspersed with the Old Man feeling well; things being normal and living back home as well. For now, he was not home; likely just another week or so in the hospital while he recovered and rehabbed. A minor surgery had been necessary but he expected to be ba