I SAW AN OLD MAN shuffling down the street. His steps were uncertain, his head down, carefully watching the path, wary of obstacles. At his age a fall could be serious. He was dressed neatly, with that loose old-man's look of clothing that once fit a larger frame. Not a man so much as the imprint left behind by a man when the man himself has gone. I recognized him as the father of a friend, and remembered when he was a vigorous man of middle years, a professor at the University. Now he was in old age, the tedious ante-room to eternity. His friends were old, or sick to death, or dead. His wife was dead, and his daughter-in-law did not like him around. I looked at him and I realized with an unexpected intensity: I am not going to do this. I am not going to wait, to hang on to every breath, to cherish every heartbeat simply because it's mine and it's all I have. Leave 'em laughing.
July 17, 1994
"I Hope I Die Before I Get Old" is a refrain from the song "My Generation," by The Who, from the album The Who Sings My Generation, (1966).
"Always Leave Them Laughing When You Say Goodbye." - George M. Cohen (1878 - 1942), title of song (1903).
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