The fear of no words (tf)

There’s nothing I fear more than growing old. No words.

I’m middle-aged now I guess. Slightly over the hill, but I’ve still got my hair and I can still see my shoes. I know where I’ve been and it hasn’t always been pleasant. But at least it’s over. I’ve had my heart broken and I’ve had my ego pummeled and I’ve gotten the tar beaten out of me and I’ve been thrown out of bars and I’ve done amazingly nice things that nobody was around to see and some pretty bad things in front of the world. I’ve lost good friends and made better ones. My eyes are bad and my hearing, thanks to 30 years of Pete Townshend and Keith Moon, is worse. But through it all, I think I’ve been more of an aid to mankind than a hindrance. I can sleep at night. Not always very well, but I can still sleep. After a pill. Or two.

It took me over 20 years to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Once the decision was made, it took me about 20 minutes to discover that I would never make any money at it. It happens. No sense fighting it.

Music and words. Words and music. Legal pads and pens and guitars and pianos. Stages, both being on them and writing for them. Creating. Pushing. Being satisfied and then changing my mind. And in between trying to make a living. A huge pain in the ass that bit, but important I suppose, especially when the bank owns your house and car.

I feel young some of the time. I think young. Some might call it being immature, but I prefer “childlike”. I still call people older than me “Mr” or “Mrs” and look behind me for someone else when friends of one of my kid’s call me the same.  I eat crappy junk food and wear battered jeans and t-shirts and Chuck Taylors and baseball caps (with a severely folded brim….I draw the line at that straight brim thing the kids are into these days). I don’t shave much and I leave stuff lying around everywhere and constantly put my feet up on stuff I’m not supposed to put my feet up on. On the weekends I can sleep until noon with very little prodding and then eat half a box of Fruit Loops for breakfast. Or lunch. I have Snoopy stickers on my guitar case.

I just don’t feel all that grown up.

Which scares me. I’m not sure I’m ready to get old. I don’t know enough.

I’m not sure I have the patience for aging.

Too many times now I’ve seen advancing years affect not only the body but the mind. Sedentary I can live with. But fear and confusion as a medical diagnosis? I don’t think so. Life has enough of that already. I watched what Alzheimer’s did to my Father. I watched him fight and fight against the dying of the light. And if he couldn’t beat it, nobody can.

It stole his ability to read and write….and he loved these things even more than I. What’s worse, he was aware of the slide. I’d see him punching his own head in frustration when comprehension came too slow, or, increasingly, didn’t come at all. I know it broke his heart as clearly as I know it broke mine.

To me he always seemed ageless.

And then one day, he was old.

And the words were gone.

It still scares me.

No words.

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on March 13, 2012.

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