Thursday, August 27, 2015

A tender, little essay of epic proportions

Harry kept writing during his elderly years, thanks in part to his attention to learning computer technology, and his impeccable memory. He posted writings on this blog in 2011, the year I took this photo, and continued to write for several publications.

The back story to the essay below is intriguing. Harry submitted it for his monthly column in the October 2013 newsletter ("Inside Creekside") in the Silver Spring, MD, community of Leisure World. On a visit to my parents' apartment, my daughter and I noticed the newsletter and read his essay titled "The Back Nine". We were touched by its tender sentiments and agreed that it looked exactly like something my dad (her Zadie) would write. But still we asked, "Did you really write this?" He said, "Yes, but it was a while ago." We didn't ask him what he meant by "a while ago."

After Harry died (seven months later), I came across the essay on the internet, which led me to search further. I found it everywhere -- the essay had gone viral! Some people had claimed the byline; others wrote Anonymous or Unknown. When Harry became an active web user, did he push the essay out into the web universe? Did he email it to others who pushed it out? Do you suppose he wrote it years earlier for another publication and it kept spreading? Or, did Harry have the only lapse in memory I'd known?

In any case, please enjoy the essay.

The Back Nine

And then it is winter ...

You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is, the “back nine” of my life and it catches me by surprise. How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go, and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me, and that “I was only on the first hole” and the “back nine” was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is – my friends are retired and getting gray; they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me, but, I see the great change. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant, but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd become.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore – it’s mandatory! Because if I don’t on my own free will, I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know that though I’m on the “back nine”, and I’m not sure how long it will last, this I know, that when it’s over on this earth, it’s over. A new adventure will begin! Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done, things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not on the “back nine” yet, let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the “back nine” or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life, so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

Life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one. Live it well! Enjoy Today! Do something fun! Be happy! Have a great day! Remember: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” LIVE HAPPY IN 2013!

Lastly, consider this: Your kids are becoming you, but your grandchildren are perfect! Going out is good. Coming home is better! You forget names, but it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!! You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything, especially golf. The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore. You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”. You miss the days when everything worked with just an ON and OFF switch. You tend to use more four-letter words: What? When? ... ?  Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere. You notice everything they sell in stores is sleeveless! What used to be freckles are now liver spots. Everybody whispers. You have three sizes of clothes in your closet, two of which you will never wear. But old is good in some things: old songs, old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!

Stay well, "old friends!" It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

Today is the oldest you've ever been, yet the youngest you'll ever be, so enjoy this day while it lasts.

Harry poses on his 92nd birthday in 2013. On most days he enjoyed "old songs, old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!"


  1. Eileen Turner wrote:

    Harry sent this story to me a while ago and I loved it so much I saved it. Unfortunately it got destroyed when the ransom virus hit my computer in February. Thanks for sending it again.

  2. As always, profound thoughts. I can relate to a lot of this!

  3. Les Evjen wrote:

    How blessed I was to have had Harry as a friend and mentor for nearly 20 years, most of which came from being a contributor (and receiver) to an Internet Forum started by our friend Tom Sherman. He did not always agree with the politics of my writings but he encouraged me to keep writing and keep an open, tolerant mind about people and events. After his passing, I promised myself to do exactly that and life has been a happier experience ever since.

    Harry had the rare ability to honestly examine life deeply and to put his observations and conclusions in exquisitely written sentences. He taught me to be patient with my judgements of others . . . and myself. That life was a journey to be enjoyed with both loved ones and friends. That wisdom comes as much from the heart as it does from the brain.

  4. Harry's long-time friend, Ron Hall, wrote:

    Just finished being taught by Harry about the back nine. Some great advice to be sure. Reminds me of an old saying: Enjoy life; it has an expiration date.