Death – A Meditation (Excerpt)

Just the other day at her favorite cafe, Rose witnessed a 96-year old man pounding the ground with the rubber end of his wooden cane. He pounded his cane in front of a young female college student. She wore her hair in a loose ponytail, and when she stood up you could see “pink” printed across her ass. She was quietly minding her own business, sitting on a comfortable couch for one, eyes glued to the screen of her Macintosh. On his way to the bathroom, the 96-year old man stood in front of the young student, very close to her sandaled feet. “Red toenails, red toenails!” he yelled, with a thump of his cane on “toe.” He repeated, “Red toenails, red toenails!” and swung his cane in the air, shuffling down the corridor.
Rose envied that man.
On the way back to his seat, the old man passed the table where Rose sat. She did not ignore him or look away. He said, “Pardon me Miss.” He inched by her table very slowly, with the help of his cane. And then he swung it in the air. Rose noticed his hunched-over shoulders, his raggedy fedora, and the dribble down his chin. In that order. “Now I’m all wet,” he announced. Rose smiled, and examined the faces of those around her. They each looked uncomfortable, staring at their computer screens or hiding their faces in their books.
The old man started speaking to a young male student sitting on the couch made for more than one. He sat alone. “What are you studying?” he asked. The young man’s arm had been making swirling motions on a large white board seated on his lap. Without looking up, he told the old man he was studying to be an EMT. “I’ve got to memorize all this,” he said, flipping through a pocket-sized manual. “I never went to school,” the old man said, “I learned the hard way – on the street, I say.” The young man feigned a grin and went back to his swirling. He had been heavily sighing all afternoon, and continued doing so. Turning to the elderly woman with him, the old man revealed, “I’m 96 and she’s 88.” He swung his cane in the air near the young man’s coffee cup, “Watch out, watch out!”
Rose watched. And she smiled.
Rose is still budding, and she still feels her cheeks blush at embarrassing moments. Rose envied the 96-year old man. He’s closer to the prize. Keep your eyes on the prize.

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